In Hungary a new crazyness has broken out, people are jonesing the ramsons, they hunt them and even created a festival around them (which was held last weekend in the South of the country in Orfű).
As far as I am concerned I discovered the herb in Germany about three years ago but in spite of the lots of medical benefits, I didn’t become fond of it. Well, until yesterday when I got a bunch of ramsons from my neighbour’s garden and I decided to prepare a fennel soup seasoning with this new kitchen star. It tasted garlicy, no wonder as the plant has a strong garlic aroma, but without the side effects of the garlic, (such as smelly breath) and with the combination of the fennel, my family voted for that to keep the recipe and make it again.
Few more words about the herb
The Germans call the ramsons bear’s garlic, but in English it is also known as buckrams, broad leaved garlic, wood garlic and wild garlic, among other local names.
The wild garlic is a wild herb and it is native to Asia and Europe. The plant has both culinary and medicinal uses. I’s a very invasive plant and if left to grow uncontrollably, it usually creates a full blanket of dense growth in the area. One needs to be cautious while picking the wild garlic because of its similarity to other bell shaped flowers (are easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is extremely poisonous and possibly deadly! The plant can easily be mistaken for other two poisonous wild growths too). One of the best ways to distinguish wood garlic from other wild growths is by rubbing the flower between fingers. If it releases a strong garlic aroma, it is the right plant. It is important to not consume the herb unless it has been properly identified. As a food, ramson is considered very healthy and its consumption is encouraged almost everywhere in the world. The plant has leaves that are fully edible and are used raw in salads and also as an ingredient in soups, spices, stews and other preparations. When added to homemade pesto, leaves of wild garlic add a powerful flavor to the sauce and make it more aromatic. Chefs generally opt for ramsons instead of basil to flavor pesto.
Wild garlic is a favorite of both brown bear and wild boar. The brown bear has quite a taste for the bulbs and has a habit of digging the ground to reach them. Cows that feed on wild garlic leaves produce milk that has a very strong garlic-y flavor. It is used to make a garlic butter that has been very popular in Switzerland since the 19th century.
When boiled, wild garlic can be eaten as a vegetable or added as an ingredient to other vegetarian dishes. In Russia, stems of the plant are preserved by salting and consumed as a salad. Bulbs and flowers of the wood garlic plant are quite delicious and added to various food preparations.
My beloved fennel bulb wild garlic soup
Ingredients: 2 fennel bulbs, oil and butter to cook
1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic,
salt and pepper to taste,
1 tbsp of corn starch,
1 chicken stock, 1 bunch of wild garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds,
1 teaspoon of dill and freshly chopped parsley
sour cream to taste
Directions: Trim the fennel leaves (discarding any woody stems). Melt butter and oil mixture and add the onion, fennel leaves, garlic cloves and soaté them, add black pepper. Dense with 1 spoon of corn starch and pour over one and half liter of chicken stock, simmer for 5 minutes.
Let it to boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Bestrew with dill. Serve with sour cream on top and finelly chopped parsley. You can eat with crunchy bacon slices as well.