I don’t know about you but for us this winter has been so mild. There was barely a snowflake. It’s as if spring has sprung a month early. Our Daffodils popped up at the end of January. I saw Cherry blossom coming out in the middle of February. Right now the sun reflects on my computer screen as I type. Does this mean summer’s going to be a scorcher? I suppose only time will tell. 

But it has also been rather wet making the nearby deciduous woodland nice and moist – perfect growing conditions for wild garlic.

And as you can see the ground is absolutely covered. We couldn’t let it go to waste so we thought about making a load of pesto to store away in the freezer. Fully waterproofed we braved the rain and headed out to the forest. I think we got there just at the right time. The air was filled with the characteristic scent. We were going to have enough pesto for…

After doing some research I found out this close relative of the chive has many names. The Italians call it aglio orsino which comes directly from its Latin name, allium ursinum. Orsino is the modern day Italian word for little bear and the plant is named so because of the bears fond taste for it. They pull out the leaves and eat the small bulb. It’s also known as ramsons, buckrams, wood garlic and bear leek. But be cautious when foraging because a similar looking leaf known as Lily of the Valley is poisonous. 

So once you’ve picked a nice quantity, what can you do with it? I should mention here that it’s best to go for the smaller leaves since the bigger ones are extremely potent – even after the tiniest nibble you’ll have the taste in your mouth for the rest of the day. Trust me, it happened.

You can wilt it like spinach, make a soup, a quick lunch of frittata, risotto and of course pesto which I love adding to seafood pasta or dob it around a pizza as it comes out of the oven.

It’s a real treat to live in a spot where nature provides us with such an abundance of great tasting food. From now till September we will be harvesting, foraging and picking a variety of herbs, fruit and vegetables which are just simply…there. It’ll soon be time for the wild asparagus (I spotted some already, actually!!!), wild hop shoots and rampions (raperonzoli, A’s favourites), rough hawk’s beard and common dandelion, the young poppy leaves (rosolacci, and yes, you can eat them), common purslane (erba grassa, ever tried it in a salad?), maiden’s tears (galletti, to die for in a risotto), nettles and as the summer comes there are cherries, plums, blackberries, figs..and the list goes on. 
Here’s a link for a good guide on everything weeds…(for those of you who are Italian or can understand the lingo).

In case you are heading for a hike somewhere nice today don’t forget to take a basket with never know.

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