We’re all familiar with garlic, but what about ? This is a bulbous plant that grows mostly in Europe, but also in parts of the United States. The aroma of field garlic makes it easy to identify in the wild, it has a strong odor that resembles onions. In fact, many people mistake this plant for wild onion. That being said, field garlic looks convincingly similar to the poisonous Star of Bethlehem, so it’s crucial to identify this plant properly before deciding to eat it.
When looking for field garlic, follow your nose! In addition, look for leaves that are clumped together and resemble grass. They typically grow to be about one to three feet tall and upon closer inspection, you’ll see that they’re hollow. In this way, the plant looks similar to chives. If you dig up the plant, you’ll see that its white bulbs sit beneath the soil. If you spot field garlic during the warmer months, it may be blooming purple bulbous flowers.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the onion smell needs to be there for it to be field garlic!
Fortunately, the preparation for field garlic is straightforward and doesn’t take much time at all. Once you dig up the plant, wash it thoroughly, getting rid of any clinging dirt from the bulbs. Be careful with the leaves as you wash them, too. Peel away the topmost layer just as you would do with store-bought heads of garlic. At this point, you’re ready to chop up the bulbs and leaves for use in any number of recipes.
A quick note about using field garlic in different dishes. The bulb heads will have the most garlicky taste, while the leaves as a great substitute if you don’t have chives on hand. You can garnish tons of dishes with the leaves or cook the chopped bulbs in some olive oil for an infused garlic oil. You can eat the bulbs raw or cooked according to your preference and the specific dish you want to create. For instance, try adding the bulbs to a homemade broth or soup for some extra flavor. As for the leaves, you can nibble on them right after washing them, or saute them and add them to stews and other cooked dishes.
Wild garlic has many of the same medicinal and health benefits as its regular, store-bought counterpart. For example, they can both contribute to lower cholesterol levels and the arteriosclerosis, or the hardening and thickening of the arteries. Moreover, wild garlic can be used to help lower blood pressure, and since it can easily be incorporated into so many recipes, it’s a useful herb to have on hand.
Field garlic, in particular, is antibacterial and antifungal, making it great for things such as yeast infections or urinary tract infections. It can also help to balance out your gut bacteria, much like yogurt. Another cool tidbit about wild garlic is that it’s a natural digestive aid, helping to reset the system and keep things regular. It has a similar effect on the circulatory system, too.
Although not a medicinal use, wild garlic is a natural repellent for moths and many other insects, reducing the need for gardeners to use harmful pesticides. There aren’t any known negative side effects to using or consuming field garlic, as long as it’s properly identified and thoroughly washed prior to use.
If you want to grow your own wild garlic, pick up some seeds from a nursery, and if you can’t find any there, try looking online. You should sow the seeds in the springtime, and once they start to sprout, you can transfer them to individual pots. With this plant, you can pot two or three of them together in the same pot. For best results, you should try to keep them in a greenhouse or similar area during their first winter season. This will build up their sturdiness and help them develop into stronger, more durable plants.
After that, you can plant them back outside once spring rolls around. By this point, the wild garlic should be a large and strong grower. Towards the end of the summer, you can harvest the garlic and use it as you like.