Wild garlic enjoys a growing popularity as an aromatic culinary herb in recent years. The fresh cabbage is used for herbal quark, in soups and sauces or in lettuce. Due to this popularity, more and more people are moving into the forest to gather the hearty leeks themselves.
What is wild garlic?
The relative of garlic, onion and chives with the star-shaped white flowers was already known to the Romans, Teutons and Celts as a spice and medicinal plant. Wild garlic has several names - in technical terms Allium ursinum, popularly also woodland garlic, wild garlic, gypsy root and Hundsknofel.
Why he is named after the bear (Ursinum)? Presumably, because brown bears like to eat it after hibernation to get back to bear forces quickly. Maybe also because, just like the bear after its hibernation, it is a symbol of the awakening life in spring. In any case, the Germans were convinced that the bear of this plant owes its power and fertility.
Fresh wild garlic for the health
Fresh wild garlic contains a lot of vitamin C, essential oils and other ingredients like magnesium and iron. He is at least as healthy as his relative, the garlic, but without affecting the body odor. Wild garlic is effective against fermentation processes in the intestine, with associated bloating and spasmodic pain. It has an appetizing, cholagogue, cholesterol lowering and vasodilator.
The main applications are stomach and intestinal disorders, loss of appetite and weakness. In general, wild garlic strengthens the body and should contribute to the purification.
Wild garlic: Beware of confusion
When the spring days in April become more sunny and increasingly warmer and the plants give off their characteristic scent, the wild garlic season begins. Despite the garlic-like odor, the plant is repeatedly confused by collectors with poisonous doppelgängers - with potentially fatal consequences.
The young leaves of wild garlic are similar to those of the poisonous lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) and the very poisonous wildflower (Cholchicum autumnale). Particularly in the months of April and May, cases of intoxication are increasing throughout Europe, especially in Austria, Switzerland and Croatia, but also in Germany.
Harvest wild garlic
Wild garlic grows in herbaceous, shady and nutrient-rich deciduous and mixed forests, meadows and parks, along streams and riparian forests. In early spring, the small onions produce two juicy green, lance-shaped leaves that are versatile in their use with their aromatic taste, but also have a health-promoting effect. Harvest time is from the appearance of leaves (about mid-March) to the breaking up of flower buds. After that, the taste becomes very strict and unpleasant.
Wild garlic must be used fresh. So if you are on the move, it is best to place the harvested leaves in a transparent freezer bag, in which there are some drops of water. Blow up the bag and then seal it. So the delicate leaves survive not only your hike, but then a few hours in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
Recognize wild garlic
Wild garlic is often mistaken for the lily-of-the-valley, which has similar leaves. Main difference: The leaf underside of the wild garlic leaves shimmers slightly metallic green, the lily of the valley fresh green. The smell sample is simpler: If the typical garlic-like odor does not occur when rubbing the leaf between the fingers, it is best to leave the plant standing (and thoroughly clean the hands immediately). However, this test is only meaningful if your fingers have not already accepted the garlic smell from a previous sample.
Bear's garlic collectors should therefore know the plant well with all its characteristics well, in order to be able to differentiate it surely from the doppelgängers. For those who prefer to play it safe: More and more greengrocers are offering wild garlic from controlled crops. It is also possible to purchase plants, seeds or bulbs from specialist dealers and then grow them on the windowsill or in the garden itself (under trees, shrubs and hedges) and freeze if necessary.
For those, who are particularly interested in the health-promoting effect, there is an expensive but 100% safe alternative: wild garlic juice from the pharmacy or health food store.
Avocado wild garlic cream
Ingredients: 1 lime, 1 avocado, 1-2 tbsp chopped wild garlic, salt, pepper, 1 baguette, 30 g (sheep) cheese
Preparation: squeeze out the lime, remove the meat of the avocado from the skin, crush and mix with the lime juice. Add wild garlic and season with salt and pepper. Spread the baguette over it, crumble the cheese and serve immediately.