Buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic… I don’t know what they are called where you come from, but I have decided to call them ramsons in this post. Allium ursinum which people somehow manage to confuse with Lily of the valley, although the distinguish smell of garlic (or the lack of it) should have told the plant off. But I can see the reason for confuse, because their leaves do look a bit alike.
Last weekend we visited a wonderful forest near our city where it’s most characteristic feature is always that it is filled with ramsons at this time of year. It is so packed that my colleague who has an outdoor base there, always smells like garlic whenever we have a meeting. He has given up on apologizing for it. It is the first real sign of spring, when the forest floor is covered in a green blanket of ramsons, and you can almost smell it in the entire city. Everyone goes there to pick – E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E! And it gives a sense of cohesion in a Nordic city where most people try to avoid eye-contact with one another.
Ramsons are extremely delicious at this time of year, if you put their leaves in salads, make pesto, or cook them in soups and other warm dishes. We made pesto and put some of the chopped leaves in bread. It was like eating a sweetened light garlic bread. In early spring, you can only pick the leaves, but once the plant starts blooming, the leaves lose their kick and transfer it to the flower. Then you can decorate your dishes with beautiful white garlicy flower petals.
The seed pots can be pickled and as they are forming, the flowers grow stronger in flavor, which in my opinion is a huge bonus, because I adore garlic. The plant itself is high on nutrients and vitamin C. It says to be cleaning intestines, stomach, blood and kidneys. Perfect for a spring cleansing, if you are into that.
So if you know a place that has ramsons, it is about time to venture there and gather some.