The smell of wild garlic is in the air…. In spring, the forest floor of some forests will be fully covered with wild garlic, also known as ramson or Allium ursinum. You cannot miss the garlic smell. Furthermore, the plants and the forest looks beautiful. Next to its beauty, you can use the plant to make delicious meals or dips. Don’t wait, let’s go to the forest and gather wild garlic!
The best time to gather wild garlic
The best time to go on a wild garlic hunt is from March to April in Germany. We’ve visited the forest in May, when the garlic was still flowering. While experienced garlic hunters would say that the taste of wild garlic is far better when it hasn’t flowered yet, we still loved the taste! After flowering, wild garlic will slowly lose its aroma and the structure will get more fibrous.
Where to find fields of wild garlic?
The plant typically grows in the shade of deciduous woods or mixed forests. Besides, wild garlic is often found close to streams. In particular, it prefers humus-rich, calcareous and nutritious soil. In these locations, you often find extensive wild garlic fields that cover almost the entire forest floor.
While wild garlic is protected in nature reserves, you are allowed to collect it for your own use in other areas of Germany. Check local regulations regarding the collection of the plant for other countries, the species may be protected.
How to identify ramson
Be careful if you gather wild garlic. Ramsom gets often confused to the Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and the Autumn crocus (Cholchicum autumnale). Opposed to the edible wild garlic, the other species are very poisonous. If you are unsure whether you are collecting the right species DO NOT EAT them.
Luckily, there are some tips on how to identify wild garlic:
- The smell: Ramson has a garlic odor, especially if you bruise the plant. Lily of the valley and Autumn crocus do not have this distinct odor. Be aware that you do not mix the plants, otherwise the garlic smell can transfer to the poisonous plants.
- The stem: the leaves of ramson have one thin stem for each leaf and grow individually from the soil. The stems have a triangular-like shape and are hollow from the inside, while Lily of the valley and Autumn crocus have multiple leaves per stem and have a round stem.
- Matt vs. shiny: The ramson leaves are matt from underneath. The down-side of Lily of a valley leaf is shiny, and the Autumn crocus is shiny on both sides.
Our cycling trip along the ramson fields to the Plesse Castle (Göttingen)
We started our cycling trip in Seeburg, a small idyllic village next to a lake known as the eye of Eichsfeld, which is located 20 minutes from Göttingen by car. The route lead us through several German villages, the amazing Göttinger forest with many wild garlic fields, up to the Plesse castle.
It was a beautiful and slightly-exhausting cycling route, because on the way to the castle you mainly have to cycle uphill. It was a steady climb, but not too steep. Our short ramson gathering breaks were perfect to have a short rest and gain new energy. The way back however, was easy as it was almost entirely downhill.
Distance: 33,4 km
Altitude: 337 m
Time: 2 1/2 – 4h (depending on your cycling speed and breaks including gathering wild garlic)
Collecting wild garlic brings you back to your historic hunter-gatherer roots. You gather your own food, transport it back home and then prepare your own dish or dip. In our case, we made a very tasty wild garlic pesto. In conclusion, it was a nice and relaxing activity that re-connects you with nature.
How to make wild garlic pesto
Wild garlic pesto
- 100 g wild garlic
- 40 – 50 g pine nuts
- 50 g parmesan
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 lemon
- Heat the pine nuts in a coated pan, without fat, on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Stir them regularly, so that they do not burn.
- Cut the wild garlic leaves, including the stem.
- Blend the wild garlic, pine nuts and 3 tbsp of olive oil.
- Add ¼ of a lemon, a pinch of sugar, salt and the parmesan and continue to blend. Slowly add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil.
- Put the finished pesto in a container/glass and cover it with olive oil, if you do not eat it directly Cover the pesto after every use with olive oil. This is very important, because the oil preserves the pesto.
- You can also make the pesto with ruccola, basil leaves or parsley.
- You can also substitute pine nuts with almonds or walnuts.
- To preserve the pesto. Do not forget to add a layer of olive oil to the pesto after consumption.
Are you interested in more delicious recipes from all over the world? Then have a look at our culinary tour around the world!