Friday, October 31, 2008

Field Garlic

What to do when the S has HTF and there's no store around that is open and has garlic? Chances are, and depending on where you live, it probably is growing somewhere near you. Yep, even in cities. It likes lawns, gardens, backyards, disturbed soil, open woods, and roadsides, at least in the East, from north to south.

This one pictured is allium veniale (veniale meaning it also likes vinyards, say Wildman Steve Brill). The neat thing about the allium family is that they all smell like garlic and onions. There are poisonous lookalike lillies, but they don't smell. If you find any wild onions, garlic, chives, and they smell like onions and garlic, then they are edible. If it looks like field garlic, but doesn't smell like garlic, then don't eat it.

But this family is pretty easy to identify, and once you're seen it, you'll know it. Here's a neat video of a cooking show host who needed some garlic for a recipe and went out and found some in her garden.

Allium veniale and allium canadense are available from late fall to early spring. This time of year, when foraging is getting a bit scarce, I can still find wild alliums--chives that got loose from a neighbor's garden and now clumps of them grace a hillside near me, and field and wild garlic. I hope they will be available all winter, and that I can see them over the snowfall. In the spring they will grow up to 3 feet tall, but I think these new shoots are not quite so big. Still, they're upright and green and in a barren field, that will definitely help!

The field and wild garlic have the same medicinal properties as cultivated garlic, so feel free to find them and use them liberally. They will add a lot of flavor to your food, and is a great addition to a stored-food diet.


Charli said...

Don't forget Ramp. My yard is full of it now. Not sure if it should be in the garlic or onion family. It grows in 'clumps' and you can't pull up just 1, you get 'em by the bunch.....

Patricia said...

Hey Charli,

I'm glad you got Ramps! I didn't find them last spring--and I'll have to wait til spring to find them this year. So I haven't had the pleasure of ramps yet.