As I walk around I have never really looked to see what kind of vegetation grows around us that we can actually eat, at least not around the city. I mean I am originally from New York city so the closest I’ve come to eating something from the earth is a salad and some herbs you order from your local restaurant or you buy from your local farmers market or grocery store. I now reside in Northern Virginia and honestly I have to say I still haven’t looked around, but I do have a plum tree that grows outside my house that is edible and I have picked from it and made jam from it, ok off topic. Back to the subject, I decided to research online at the library and so forth even found a wild plant nursery, I had no idea there was one in our community, which actually was an amazing find and I became a member. Why not right? What better way to learn more about what plants grow native to Virginia and you can volunteer at the nursery. So why not spend a little time learning more about how to grow and take care of plants, I don’t have a green thumb.
After visiting the nursery I continued my quest to locate something, anything that this new forager could find, but what did I know a flower is a flower and a weed is a weed. “Were there really edible flowers, and which ones were they?” I tell you thank goodness for today’s technology and google photo search, because without that I would have no idea what I was looking at. I kept at it and stumbled upon a patch of purple flowers. Now mind you, these didn’t look like your average daisies so I took a picture and what do you know? I finally came across my first ever edible wild gift from earth. I found wild garlic! Not bad I must say and I didn’t have to go far to find it. I just took a walk down a nature trail behind my community and voila! Little did I know I could have been picking garlic all this time I was living here instead I was buying it, oh the things we learn.
You know what else I learned? “Garlic is widely known for its antibacterial, antibiotic and maybe its antiviral properties, it contains vitamins A and C, calcium, sodium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Studies have shown that garlic may help reduce blood pressure thereby reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.” Although all types of garlic have the same benefit profile, wild garlic is thought to be the most effective at lowering blood pressure. It is also said that wild garlic can help to re-balance the bacterial flora in your gut, which can soothe the inflammation, bloating, cramping, constipation, and other stomach problems you may be facing.
After all this walking and searching I had one more question that I had to look up. I mean, I have to be honest just because there’s an apple growing on a tree in the woods does it mean it’s safe to eat? It could be a poisonous apple, you never know, not everything is edible. So, back to my handy dandy search engine I went. Not only were they edible but you could make some really delicious recipes with them. You can chop them up and toss them into mayo or sour cream for a dip or put them into your favorite pesto recipe or wild garlic sauteed in butter and toss in some pasta and spinach. I decided to go simple, every part of the plant is usable and smells of garlic. So, I decided to infuse the stems, the flower part and the garlic in olive oil then I cool it down completely and out of the infused oil I made a quick wild garlic vinaigrette. I could not believe how intense the smell and taste of garlic that came through from what I picked. I used 14 bulb that yielded me about 3 normal cloves of garlic, 3 purple flowers and 2 stems cut into small sticks.
All in all I had an amazing time looking around for something I could bring back to my home and share with my family and friends. It was also a strange feeling gathering food for my family. It transported me back in time and made me think about how fresh people must have been eating back in the days. How much time they got to spend enjoying their day outside gathering. For those brief moments of foraging I got to be one with my thoughts and nature and it was really relaxing and nature gave me a great edible gift in return!!!
In case anyone goes out and finds their own wild garlic or you just want to use regular garlic, either or here’s a one mason jar or salad bottle recipe for you. Real simple just add all the ingredients to the jar close it up when everything is in and shake it all up until combined. Personally, I think a food processor is the best way. Oh remember, I used my infused wild garlic olive oil for the oil in this recipe, you don’t have to do that.
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
The Impressive Health by Liz Earle Well being: http//Lizearlewellbeing.com/wonderful-wild-garlic