“If you go down to the woods today then you may not see any bears having a picnic, but you might come across some of their favourite food” says Doddington Hall’s head gardener David Logan! Wild Garlic is a big favourite of the European Brown Bear, giving it its name Allium ursinum, from the Latin for bear, ursus. The Wild Garlic season is very nearly upon us, and will make even the most level-headed of foodie roar with pleasure...
Across Europe and Asia, this member of the garlic family will carpet broadleaved woodland floors, filling the air with a delicate smell of garlic. Now, some of you may not like the sound of that at all, but to me it is a magical smell and the sight is as beautiful as bluebells. It is a real herald of spring and a sign that evenings are drawing out and the weather is turning warmer.
Wild Garlic in bloom
Stinking Jenny, Bear Leek and Ramsoms are just a handful of the many names that Wild Garlic has picked up over the years. The fact that it has so many names must be partly to do with humans’ historical usage of it in cooking. Imagine a time before salt, sugar and spices were readily available. A few wild garlic leaves would really lift your simple stew.
Nowadays it is still popular in cooking, and indeed the chefs at Doddington will feature it in their spring menus. I like it in pesto (substituted for the basil) or it’s yummy chopped up in mashed potato and is fantastic on salads. It has a mild garlic flavour and can be used in much the same way as chives. All parts of the plant can be eaten but you must watch out not to get it confused with poisonous Lily of the Valley.
Wild Garlic grows in private ancient woods near Doddington, and small batches will be available from the Doddington Hall Farm Shop. It will also be featuring on the spring menus in the Restaurant and Cafe. www.doddingtonhall.com