While out walking today I happened upon a a familiar sprawling clump of juicy, green, grass-like vegetation. I bent down to have a closer look, snapped a crisp blade from the plant and smelled it. To my delight, there it was, that wonderful delicate smell of onion with the faintest hint of garlic...Three Cornered Leek!
Around the corner, more garlic scents arose. Wild Garlic! Gallium arsinum has flat, wide blades that are paper thin and soft. Alongside it, another garlicky friend - Garlic Mustard. Spring is an abundant time for garlics, which are among the first edibles out in the forager's year. They are cleansing and nourishing to the body and taste great. Try our pesto recipe after reading about the differences here:
Three Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum)
The taste is somewhere between leek, garlic and cucumber and can be used in much the same way as you would leeks and spring onions. The leaves have that wonderful juicy crunch of spring onions but are a lot more mild in taste and therefore make a great addition to salads or as a tasty but not overpowering garnish. The flowers are a beautiful pure white with a light green vein running down the centre, they are the mildest tasting part of the plant; fresh and green, just like cucumber with a very slight hint of garlic and onion. Why Three cornered? Snap off a flower or leaf stem, you will see it has grown in a triangle.
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)
These papery leaves with a round cluster of star-like flowers are more garlicky in flavour compared to the wild leek's oniony taste. Wild Garlic has more depth and a rounded taste. If you are not sure if it is a garlic - smell it! The flowers are also edible, and are perfect as a garnish. Ideally picked before/during the flower bud stage, as after, they become a bit dusty and dog-eared.
Jack-In-The-Hedge or Garlic Mustard
This strong tasting leaf has a more yellow tinge to its leaves. The rounded, kidney shaped, toothed leaves grow off a tall central stem. Like its name, it has a sulphurous mustard tinge to the garlic taste. Use these sprinkled lightly through a salad or chopped fine into soups, not too much as they can have a bitter edge.