Passions: Wild garlic season is back, and we're having it in everything from pesto to scones - Gaby Soutar

The appearance of ramsons makes March the most wonderful month

My flat reeks.

That’s because, at this time of year, whenever my husband goes on one of his long cycle rides, he always comes back with heaps of wild garlic.

The leaves are stuffed into his frame bag and back pockets, and it makes his gloves hum. He has to do this foraging job on the return journey, or the smell makes him so hungry that he has to come home for an early lunch.

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His favourite harvesting spots are on Musselburgh’s River Esk path, and a top secret location near the village of Cousland, where he says there’s enough to service every restaurant in the Capital.

Although wild garlic, or ramsons, is one of the most easily foraged plants, he still attracts curious looks from passers-by.

It seems that not everyone is on the wild garlic kick just yet.

Perhaps they’re worried about identification.

Indeed, the main rule is that, when you crush the leaves, they should smell garlicky.

Apparently, there have been a few deaths involving those who imbibed autumn crocus instead. Ramsons can also look similar to Lily of the valley and lords and ladies’ leaves, though those poisonous pretenders don’t smell like garlic.

There is absolutely no need to buy this plant in the shops, when it’s as free as oxygen. However, if you’re a bit unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Of course, there’s plenty of wild garlic closer to home, and in urban locations. We even have a little crop in our back garden.

However, us addicts need more than a few meagre leaves.

We put it in everything, from scrambled eggs, to pasta dishes, in pesto, garlic butter, bread, hummus, soups and scones. You can blend the chopped leaves with oil, then put them in ice-cube trays to freeze. Later in wild garlic season, which runs from March to April, when they flower, you can use their spiky white blooms in salads, but we don’t usually bother with that.

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The only thing we can’t vouch for, is this plant’s ability to repel vampires. We’ll test that out and get back to you, if we haven’t been sucked dry.

Anyway, along with magnolia and camellia flowers, its appearance is one of the first signs of spring.

I get over excited when I first spot, or smell it. I feel as if I’ve been anticipating its arrival for aeons. At least, whenever he gets into his cycling gear, I know that we’ve got a delivery incoming.



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