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It is no secret here that  BrookLodge & Macreddin Village are advocates & enthusiastic about Wild Foods

 

Wild Garlic is truly in season at the moment. Here at BrookLodge & Macreddin Village, we harvest and widely use Wild Garlic accross our kitchen all year round. It truly is a wonderful, fresh ingredient. We want to encourage all visitors (or indeed any inexperienced/experienced foragers out there) to recognise, safely pick and indeed incorporate Wild Garlic into their cooking.
 

There are a number of different types of Wild Garlic growing in Ireland but Wild Garlic Ramsoms are the most widespread and most frequently mentioned in traditional food culture.

 

 

Where to find Wild Garlic:

It’s   a   common   plant   all   over   the   island   and   it   thrives   in   mixed woodlands and other damp, shady places like country lanes and near streams. In the right place it will be widespread and easy to spot.

What it looks like:

Growing   from   a   surprisingly   small   translucent  bulb,   broad,   pointed, bright green leaves push up through the soil to gradually form a multi-leaved bunch and are followed by a single flower stalk bearing several small white blossoms. Most years the harvest begins in mid-March and continues   until   mid-April.   This   period   may   vary   according   to   local
conditions or a spring that arrives early or late. Usually you can harvest over a month.

Some people prefer the young milder leaves; others wait until the plant flowers,  and  the  flavour  is  stronger,  and  gather  leaves  and  flowers  at the same time.
The flower of the  Wild Garlic is highly identifiable and for the first time forager  this  is  when  this  wild  food  should  be  harvested.  Prior  to  this,  it might  be  mistaken  for  the  leaves  of  the  Wild  Lily  of  the  Valley,  and other wild plants.   Some of these are, of course not pleasant to eat or indeed poisonous.

 

Top Tip:

A good means of positively identifying Wild Garlic is grinding the leaves between one's fingers, which produces a pungent garlic-like smell. The leaves  of  Lily  of  the  Valley come from  a  single purple  stem,  while  the Wild Garlic leaves have individual green-coloured stems.

 

 How to pick:

Do  not  dig  up  the  bulbs  and  never  strip  a  plant  of  all  its  leaves  or remove all the flowers or plants in a small area. Pick mid-sized to larger leaves and flower heads that have blossomed. Baskets  are  ideal  for  gathering  (particularly  for  the  flowers)  but  if  you plan  to  preserve  the  leaves  choose  roomy  plastic  bags.  Pack  loosely and  do  not  press  down  or  you  may  bruise  the  tender  leaves  and flowers.
 
 
How to prepare:

Shake  flower  to  remove  insects  and  then  wash  flowers  and  leaves  in cold  water  and  spread  out  on  a  clean  cloth;  pat  with  a  cloth  or kitchen paper to remove moisture.


Recipe: The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Garlic Pesto

WHAT GOES IN
50g Fresh Wild Garlic Leaves
25g pine, cashew, hazel or chestnuts…your choice!
200ml Organic Olive Oil or better still Irish Organic Rapeseed Oil
40g grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano or really mature Coolea Farmhouse Cheese
Organic Black Pepper and Sea Salt

HOW IT GOES
Simple recipes are not always the easiest. It’s taken us years to get this just right. Any of the above Nuts, Oils or Cheeses will make a fabulous fresh spring tasting Pesto…we’re just not saying exactly which go into our Strawberry Tree Wild Garlic Pesto! So, the easy way is to blitz the nuts and half the oil in a food processor and add in the grated cheese. Then add the wild garlic and blitz with the remaining oil to the right consistency. Then simply season, to your taste. As a fresh Oil Dressing, it’ll work, every time.

HOW TO FINISH

Pour into sterilised Kilner Jars and keep in the fridge or a really cool, dark pantry. More so than with Basil Pesto, there is a reaction between the Wild Garlic, Oil and especially metal lids…hence the Kilner.

 

WHAT YOU GET
     Is a serious Pesto; a deep dark green Pesto with attitude, a Pesto that will slap you in    the face with the unmistakably strong taste of wild natural garlic and its lush woodland      dwellings. What you also get is ‘bottled spring and summer’…to give as a present to         your friends, if you are able! If not, use it to impress as a dressing salads, bake into your favourite bread dough, add to any pasta dish or mix with butter and slip under the skin of a chicken roast…the list goes on, just use your imagination. 

                                                                   

Wild Food MasterClass

Be sure to check out our next Wild Foods MasterClass which takes place on Thursday 25th April.

Macreddin Village is host to a variety of Wild Foods MasterClasses. Participants will receive a welcome tour of Macreddin Village including The Kitchens and The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Foods Pantry, followed by in depth tuition taking them through a full calendar of natural Wild Foods that are available along 327,000km of our Irish Hedgerows. The MasterClass with The Chefs of The Strawberry Tree Restaurant and Evan Doyle, co-author of the best-selling 'Wild Food' book will cover identification as well as instruction on how to gather, cook and preserve using traditional methods such as sugar, oil, drying, vinegars and alcohol. After enjoying lunch in The Waterside Lounge, participants will be brought outdoors with The Strawberry Tree’s Wild Food Forager to do some gentle hands on foraging around Macreddin Village.

To book your place on our next Wild Foods MasterClass, pleae call reception at 0402 36444 or email info@brooklodge.com

 


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