Garlic mustard is another one of those vigourous plants which grows pretty much anywhere
Garlic mustard is another one of those vigourous plants which grows pretty much anywhere and which lots of people consider to be an invasive weed. Truth be told, it is a bit of a bully and it exudes toxins which poison the fungi native plants need to live. It can survive overwinter, under snow, and get a jump start on the spring season. So, for foragers, it is perfect as you can’t ever really take too much!! They prefer shaded areas but the photograph is of a plant growing in an open vegetable bed.
It is an important plant for the beautiful orange tip butterfly which lays it’s eggs on the flower stalk, and the caterpillars eat the seed pods when they hatch.
Garlic mustard is a versatile and nutritious vegetable. All parts of the plant are edible. The root has a pungent, horseradish flavour, especially when mixed with white vinegar. The leaves are heart-shaped, smooth and hairless and, when crushed, they smell of garlic. Leaves taken from plants growing in the shade are much less bitter than those taken from plants growing in full sun, so if adding to salad, take the shaded leaves if you can.
Garlic mustard has small, white flowers have four petals in the shape of a cross which grow in little clusters at the ends of the stems.
The young leaves, picked before the flowers appear, make great pesto.
- 1 cup garlic mustard
- 1/2 cup basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 oz. toasted pinenuts
- 4 oz. olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
Combine all of the ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor then slowly add the oil with the machine still running.
If you are going to forage, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful