All you’ve ever wanted to know about wild garlic

Posted on 2 min read

What is wild garlic?

Wild garlic (allium ursinum) is an allium plant that is at home in Central Europe. It is also related to garlic, chives and the common onion. Wild garlic is found mainly along forest edges, in shady, moist and humus-rich deciduous forests, but also along floodplains and rivers. It can be collected in the wild, but also cultivated in one’s own garden. The season begins around the beginning of March and lasts until around the end of May.

Does wild garlic have healing powers?

In the Middle Ages, wild garlic did not yet have the name allium ursinum, but was called herba salutaris, which translates as health herb. The Celts and Romans already relied on the healing powers of wild garlic. In the past, it was often used as a medicinal plant, as it was believed to have healing and anti-inflammatory properties. In today’s folk medicine it is still used for digestive disorders and other gastrointestinal complications. This is due to its numerous sulphurous essential oils, which have a positive effect on various organs. So it is definitely a healthy spring vegetable.

Did you know?
Wild garlic has triple the amount
of vitamin C compared to oranges!

Why does wild garlic smell so intense?

Two to three months after it has sprouted, the leaves turn yellow due to the climate warming up the upper soil layer. This gives off the typical garlic smell. Allicin, which is also present in garlic, is responsible for this odour.

What does wild garlic have to do with bears?

The Romans gave wild garlic, a.k.a. bear’s garlic, its name. At that time, it was said that the first thing bears did after hibernation was to look for the juicy, green wild garlic leaves in order to regain important nutrients. However, this explanation has not been substantiated. There are also other speculations about the origin of the name.

Watch out!
The leaves of wild garlic are often confused with the poisonous leaves of lily of the valley and meadow saffron.

What are the uses of wild garlic in the kitchen?

Primarily the leaves of wild garlic are eaten. These can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Wild garlic pesto is a popular (or even the most popular?) variant, but herb butter can also be made with the green plant. In various shops you can find it processed in wild garlic cheese, wild garlic gnocci and spaetzle, wild garlic ravioli and wild garlic noodles. It is also often used to flavour meat dishes, such as sausages and meat loaf. Wild garlic soup is also a meal worth trying. Unfortunately, wild garlic loses its sulphurous substances through heat. That is why it is often eaten raw and mixed into salads – for example, cut into small pieces.

In this sense: enjoy!

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