Wild garlic edible despite flowering? | Can you still eat it now?

Wild garlic, also known as forest garlic, is particularly widespread in central and southern Germany. From around March, collectors start looking for the spicy leaves here. On the other hand, wild garlic should no longer be harvested when the flowering period begins. In fact, there are good reasons to take care of the plant after flowering.

Is wild garlic actually poisonous after flowering?

The collection time for the fresh wild garlic leaves is short, because the first flowers of the spring herb appear from the beginning of April. Perhaps you too have heard that the plant is poisonous from this point onwards and should therefore no longer be collected. Rest assured: Wild garlic is not poisonous in any way before, during or after flowering and can therefore continue to be harvested without any worries.

Typical aroma disappears after flowering

However, there is a taste restriction, because with the beginning of flowering and then the seed formation, the plant puts more energy into flowers and seeds. As a result, the essential oil content decreases and the characteristic aroma gradually disappears. In addition, the leaves become fibrous, harder and lose their garlic-like taste.

All parts of the plant edible

Instead, the white flowers can now be used wonderfully as a seasoning and decoration – for example for wild herb salads. They are just as spicy as the young, tender wild garlic leaves. You can also harvest the buds and pickle them like capers, for example. In principle, all parts of the wild garlic are edible at any time of the year, only the roots should be left in place: the plant will sprout from this in the following year, so that removing the roots would significantly reduce the stock.

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Caution, risk of confusion!

Even if wild garlic itself is not poisonous, cases of poisoning – sometimes even fatal – have occurred time and again in the past. However, these are not to be blamed on the garlic relatives, but were caused by confusion with similar-looking but highly poisonous plants – which of course are therefore not edible. Be careful with these plants:

  • autumn crocus
  • Aronstab
  • lily of the valley

These also prefer similar locations as wild garlic and show similarities at least outside of the flowering period. However, you can avoid confusion with a simple smell test: Rub a leaf between your thumb and forefinger. If this then smells like garlic, it is definitely wild garlic. Of the plants mentioned, this is the only one that develops this striking smell.

The best harvest time

Nevertheless, there are good reasons to at least limit the collection of wild wild garlic to the time before flowering: At this time, the plant needs all the energy it needs to develop the flowers and seeds that are supposed to ensure its continued existence. If you now pick leaves, flowers and buds, you disturb the plant – with the result that further propagation is considerably restricted. For the same reason, you should cut off a maximum of two leaves per plant when wandering through nature, so as not to damage it in the long term. The best harvest time is therefore in the months of March and April, although other parts of the plant can also be picked well into June.

Can wild garlic be prevented from blooming?

Of course, the situation is different when growing in your own garden. The forest garlic is very undemanding and thrives wonderfully in shady, rather moist and as calcareous locations as possible – i.e. there where most useful plants do not feel at all well. Here you can harvest as much as you want – as long as you leave the roots of the wild garlic in the ground. Flowering can be delayed by repeatedly removing the buds that are still closed. This also allows you to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the plant in the garden.

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Consume freshly harvested plant parts quickly

Process fresh wild garlic as soon as possible after collecting it, because the parts of the plant only keep for a few days. If quick use is not possible, it is best to wrap the leaves in a damp kitchen towel and place them in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. They stay here for about a week. However, it is better to preserve the wild garlic immediately after harvesting. Freezing and soaking in a high-quality vegetable oil have proven successful.

Tasty ideas for fresh wild garlic:

  • classic: wild garlic pesto with olive oil, almonds and parmesan
  • not just for the barbecue: homemade herb butter with wild garlic, pure or mixed with other herbs
  • as a delicious starter: fine wild garlic soup with potatoes and crème fraîche
  • healthy and tasty: wild herb salad with wild garlic and feta or goat cheese
  • ideal for seasoning many dishes: green wild garlic salt made from coarse sea salt, pepper and onions
  • Variety on bread: wild garlic as the basis for delicious spreads, for example with cream cheese, mustard or nuts and vegetables
  • Extra tip: freshly made wild garlic and radish butter with strong sea salt tastes particularly delicious

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