Wild garlic and ground elder are growing really well near us at the moment, so we used both to make a simple but delicious lunch for the course participants on last Saturday’s foraging day. Below there are plant descriptions, recipes and some photos from the course.
Ground elder was introduced in to the country by the Romans who used it as a cooking herb.
– These days most gardeners don’t like it as it is very difficult to get rid of. It is a perennial plant that can form dense patches, usually found near habitation, in gardens or woods. The leaves grow straight out of the ground in early spring reaching approximately 30cm tall. They have a grooved stalk which divides into 3 and each of these 3 stalks has 3 leaves on it. The leaves have a serrated edge and a pointed end. Only eat Ground elder in spring before the plant flowers. As always – be absolutely sure of your identification. If in doubt go to the shop and buy some parsley and some spinach, it won’t be quite the same but it will be nice.
- 1 medium red onion peeled and chopped small
- 1 clove of garlic chopped small
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200g risotto rice
- 1litre vegetable stock (approx)
- 150g Ground Elder, washed
- Salt and pepper
- 200g butter
Blanch the ground elder in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute, then drain it well and chop it finely. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and keep it on a low simmer. In a large pan gently cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until it is soft. Add the risotto rice and stir well, keep the pan on a medium heat and add a ladle full of stock, stir gently until it has been absorbed by the rice. Keep adding the stock a ladle full at a time, each time stirring until absorbed. After about 20 minutes the rice will be nearly cooked through, keep a close eye on it at this point and when it is very nearly cooked add the ground elder, continue cooking and stirring for 3-4 minutes. Now remove the pan from the heat add the butter, salt and pepper and stir. Put a lid on the pan and leave it off the heat for the flavours to develop and then serve with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe a garlic fritter – see recipe below.
Wild Garlic forms large patches by woodland streams. The leaves emerge in early spring some reaching 30cm long. They are smooth, oval and pointed and grow straight out of the ground on a short leaf stalk. Crush part of a leaf – it smells of Garlic you have the right plant. The white flowers follow in April/May and are also good to eat. The whole plant dies back in late spring not to be seen again until the following year.
Wild Garlic fritters – makes 20
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour plus extra for coating the leaves
- 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
- 1 heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon crushed sea salt flakes
- Approx 1 cup of sparkling water
- 20 wild garlic leaves washed
- 1 litre sunflower oil
You will also need a thermometer or a digital temperature probe to check the temperature of the deep frying oil and a large pan for deep frying.
Put all the dry ingredients in to a large mixing bowl and stir. Now add enough sparkling water to make a thin batter – the consistency of single cream. DO NOT OVER MIX – it is fine to have lumps. Put the oil in to a large pan and heat to 185 degrees C. While the oil is heating dust the damp wild garlic leaves with flour. Then when you are ready to fry, dip the leaves one at a time into the batter then carefully put them in the pan of oil – it is best to fry the leaves 2 or 3 at a time, they will take 1 – 2 minutes to cook. When they are ready they look crispy, slightly golden and puffed up, remove with tongs and drain on kitchen paper.
Foraging day course 21st April 2013
As well as learning about 32 wild spring edible plants the group learnt to bone trout with there hands, smoke it in a hot smoker, and enjoyed a tasting session of wild preserves. As ever we had a great time cooking together and everyone took home a jar of wild herbs in oil. Thank you all for coming – happy foraging.