Forest foraging

Wild garlic growing on the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

Last week I got a Facebook message from Australian friend Kerri, who’s currently holidaying around the U.K., about a delicious asparagus and wild garlic soup she’d eaten. Intrigued and inspired, especially by some of the images of wild garlic that are appearing on my Instagram feed, I went out in search of some the plants myself.

Wild garlic flowers

Much of England’s been rainy, grey and cool for the week so I had to wait patiently for a suitable time for my forage. I managed to slip up to the Malvern Hills late one afternoon after a particularly wet day.

Looking out onto the Severn Valley from the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, England.

The woodland on the eastern side of the slopes was humid, still and quiet. The air smelt heavy and full of life, and birds that’d sought refuge in big, leafy trees while it was raining were enjoying the ability to fly and sing once more. It was utterly peaceful.

Woodland on the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, England.

I wandered into a small heavily wooded valley in between two peaks and stumbled across giant swathes of wild garlic on either side of the path.  I could actually smell the small plants before I could see them – a mix of garlic and chives – which makes sense as I’ve since discovered: wild garlic, or allium ursinum, is a relative of chives.

Wild garlic growing on the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, England.

I’d done a fair bit of research on how to identify wild garlic prior to setting out foraging as I really didn’t want to accidentally make myself sick. There are warnings about mistaking wild garlic for the poisonous Lily of the Valley.  I was confident though when I came across my patch of green and white that I had it right!

I picked a generous handful of leaves and a few stems of the small white flowers that grow in the centre of plant.

Hand holding wild garlic leaves.

As I continued on my way, the wild garlic got thicker and thicker.  It was a quite a magical sight and this bounty was only a short trundle away from home!

Walking path flanked by wild garlic

I made my way home, spotting a wild rabbit and a trio of what I suspect were muntjac deer. Both were too quick for my camera, but it was a lovely way to end my walk. It was like I was wandering through some twee British fairytale!

There are hundreds of recipes online that use wild garlic but I started simple, chopping it up and adding it to Greek yoghurt with lemon juice, spring onions, salt and pepper and making a tzatziki-like sauce. It was delicious replacement for mayonnaise in potato salad, especially when you add grilled asparagus to the mix.

Washed wild garlic and its flowers sitting in a glass bowl on a striped tea towel

Now I know there’s a plentiful supply nearby I think I’ll be making regular trips to my natural larder!  Does wild garlic grow near you?  What are your favourite recipes using it?!  Would love some recommendations :).

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