Wild Garlic – Ramsons – Allium Ursinum

It’s out there, it’s abundant, it’s full of flavour and it’s free. It is Wild Garlic.

Wild Garlic Waiting to be Gathered

Large clumps of it grow on river banks, in corners of fields and in woodlands.

The star-like flowers beckon from a distance.

The flowers look like they could be at home in a posy vase, but, as soon a you pull one of them, the garlic aroma permeates the air. Not, then, a flower for display, but one for eating, cooked or uncooked.

Where to Use

Described as both a vegetable and a herb, the flowers and leaves of this plant can be used everywhere clove garlic is used. In cooking, add both to soups, mashed potato, stews, omelettes, curries and Italian dishes. Uncooked, add the flowers to salads, chop the flowers and young leaves into dips or use the leaves in place of basil, to make an excellent pesto. While having the flavour of clove garlic, wild garlic has a mellow freshness of its own. The younger leaves and flowers are also that bit more subtle.

Please note, that when adding to a hot dish, best results occur when it is added in the final cooking stages.

Health Benefits

All garlic is known for its antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties. It, also, seems beneficially effective in the treatment of colic, diarrhoea, wind and loss of appetite. In addition, studies have shown that Wild Garlic is particularly effective for the treatment of High Blood Pressure. This, apparently, is due to the high sulphur content of Wild Garlic. (Ref – The Cardioprotective Actions of Wild Garlic, Rietz & Others;  Mol Cell Biochem 1993)

 

Cucumbers

I paid a visit to Thomas Collins and Jim Carthy’s farm, in Rush, recently, and Jim gave me some information on his growing season for cucumbers.

A link to my visit here.

It was very interesting to learn that Irish Cucumbers are available from Mid February to Mid November. That’s a nine month season in which to buy Irish cucumbers! They are grown in a very controlled  environment, in glass houses.

While other countries produce numerous varieties, with various colours, shapes and sizes, there is only one variety grown in Ireland. They are those dark green ones, stocked by every vegetable retailer and the darker the skin colour, the better, according to Jim.  If the cucumbers are turning yellow, they have passed their best before date. Amongst the growers, they are known as ‘English Cucumbers’.

The ideal weight of the fruit varies between 300  and 450 grammes

95% are eaten raw, either sliced or chunky as part of a salad, or added to yoghurt or sour cream, with seasoning and/or grated garlic to make excellent dips or sauces. A suggestion is to serve slices in a bowl of cider vinegar, to be added to salads or cut into julienne slices and serve with dips.

The there are the uses of cucumbers as a natural beauty treatment. Tired eyes and dark circles under the eyes benefit greatly from about 10 to 15 minutes with a slice of cucumber over each eye. Purreed cucumber can also be used as a mild facial astringent.

Cucumbers have virtually no fat, are low in carbohydrates and have a beneficial range of vitamins and trace minerals. They have a high proportion of Vitamin K, which helps with bone strength. Remember, most of the vitamin content is in the skin!

I should mention the other variety of cucumbers eaten here. These are the pickled types, variously known as: Gerkins, Pickles and Cornichons. As these are not grown here is any quantity, but come here already processed, I will leave them out of this post.