It’s been a while since I posted anything here. You guys have no idea of the fabulous blog posts I create in my head and then never get round to posting.
I took a walk with the family around Crawfordsburn Country Park last week- now that the weather’s on the up and up, it’s hard not to want to get out into the fresh air.
Crawfordsburn C.P., if you don’t know it, is a lovely place. It’s got forest walks, an impressive waterfall and some of the nicest beaches and coastal paths I know.
It also has wild garlic.
Wild garlic, also known as ransoms, is my favourite forage out of all of them. It’s relatively short-lived, being one of the earliest spring greens to rear its head, and also then one of the first to go. So get it when it’s in season.
Long and green, with small white flowers, you’ll generally smell wild garlic before you see it. A gregarious little plant, it grows in big patches down by the riverside and in shady, dappled woods.
Bearing a passing resemblance to bluebells, or Lilly of the valley, both of which are poisonous, if in doubt crush some between your fingertips. If you are met with the unmistakable, garlicky smell, then bingo, you’re on the right track.
It’s-while I write this- a touch early for picking wild garlic, so I didn’t take too much. In fact, in general I have a rule that I only ever take a couple of leaves from each plant. This means that its ability to grow and photosynthesise isn’t impaired. It means that it’ll be back again next year.
I’m also careful not to uproot the wild garlic for the same reasons, though all parts of the plant, including the white flowers, are edible. We want to keep it coming back year after year.
Now that I had picked a decent little bit I took it home for cooking. First thing to do is to give it a clean. Use cold water so that you don’t lose any of the lovely garlicky juices, and have a quick sort through the leaves to make sure that there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be.
Every year, the first item I like to make is a wild garlic foccaccia bread. You can find the recipe here: https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/wild-garlic-focaccia
Foccaccia is a really stretchy dough and it’s great fun to make. Bread making- by the way, is one of those things which seems complicated, but really isn’t. You make a dough, complete with dried yeast, kneed it a bit, and then leave it to do its job. Foccaccia is a good bread to start with as it’s fairly forgiving.
Cooked wild garlic smells a bit pungent, so if you live with someone fussy, make sure you leave the windows open.
After a rise, a knockback, and a second rise, then just 20 minutes in the oven you should have a lovely, fluffy foccaccia bread.
The only problem with it is that its hard to wait until it cools to tuck in.