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St Brides Castle

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Cooking with wild garlic

Posted by Luci Ackers on May 04, 2017
Cooking with wild garlic

It’s wild garlic season!

Around the St. Brides Castle this time of year you’ll find swathes of wild garlic, and it’s the perfect ingredient for adding a little bit of zing to your favourite recipes.

On site recently we thought we’d give some recipes a go. And who better to help us out than Jen, head chef at Dylan’s Bistro here at St. Brides? She thought it would be fun to get out and about to experiment with flavours and try cooking over a flame out in the open.

Being a keen kayaker, Jen knows the coastline well. One of her favourite hobbies is to take to the waters around St. Brides and enjoy the company of the seals who bob to the surface to join her. She loves the little beaches and coves that can be found near St. Brides and knew exactly where on St. Brides beach we’d be able to set up our little campfire.

Why wild garlic?

This little plant is bursting with flavour and really good for you. As part of the allium family, the wild garlic has a relatively potent flavour, but it’s much milder than conventional garlic, closer to that of chives. You eat the leaves rather than the bulb, though the edible star-like white flower heads make an excellent garnish for salads too.

The leaves are packed full of vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in iron, but also produce allicin, an essential oil that aids digestion and acts in a similar way to penicillin preventing the growth of bacteria that leads to infection. This is why, historically, the plant has been used in herbal remedies for its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, and for boosting energy levels!

How to identify it?

Wild garlic favours semi-shaded spots and deciduous woodland. The flowers usually start to appear in May, but you can pick the leaves before this, as early as March and April if you are confident you have identified it correctly. If in doubt, follow your nose! The garlicky smell is quite unmistakable and it is even more potent when you rub the leaves between your fingers.

If you’ve found one plant, chances are you’ll find lots; they tend to grow together. The leaves are long, flat and slightly pointed at the tip. There will usually be one or two to a plant. The flower heads are clustered in an umbel (where all flowers sprout from a shared stem). At St. Brides the front drive is covered in it at the moment and that is exactly where Jen took us to pick some.

Remember, if you are foraging for your own, not to uproot wild plants. Simply cut the stems and take what you need.

What to cook?

The taste of wild garlic adds an extra dimension to dishes. Its subtle flavour goes well with a squeeze of lemon and fresh fish. Or with meat recipes too.

A recent recipe by River Cottage chef Gill Meller was showcased on Countryfile and that seemed the perfect one for us to try. You can find the recipe we used on the Countryfile website here.

Down on St. Brides beach Jen set up a little campfire and cooked up the amazing one-pan wild garlic, potato and chorizo tortilla. With wild garlic, the trick is to not overcomplicate the flavours; it adds a zing, but it’s a delicate one, especially when cooked.

Find out how to visit St. Brides yourself by popping your details in at the bottom of the page to receive a free brochure.

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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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