With its fresh green and its fine garlic taste, wild garlic is one of the first heralds of spring like hardly any other plant. “Even if there is still snow, it stretches its fine tips out of the ground here and there,” says Karinaa Nouman. The native of Salzburg, who lives in Jeging in the Braunau district, runs an online blog under the name “Fräulein Grün” – which is one of the most successful in the German-speaking world. And of course it’s also about wild garlic.
Wild garlic for “bear powers”
“It’s the right herb at the right time. Because wild garlic gives us – as the name suggests – bear strength. It makes us strong and fit for spring,” says the 44-year-old, explaining its health benefits: “Wild garlic promotes digestion, cleans the blood and stimulates the metabolism. It also lowers the cholesterol level, helps with high blood pressure and also strengthens our immune system,” says “Fräulein Grün”, who also offers herbal workshops.
Wild garlic is best harvested and enjoyed fresh – even when it’s in bloom, says Karina Nouman. Fresh plants can be recognized by the fact that the leaves are juicy green and have a certain firmness. Everything can be used: leaves, buds – they can be pickled like capers – and also the flowers. “It turns into an excellent vinegar. One of the best I know,” says the herbalist, who also offers workshops. Incidentally, “Miss Green” doesn’t think much of freezing. “I believe that we should eat regionally and seasonally. Now there’s wild garlic – and now we’re enjoying it, too.”
Wild garlic can be used in a variety of ways, for example as pesto or as a seasoning in butter, curd cheese, pasta or in soups. So that it does not lose its aroma, it should never be cooked or even fried for too long, but should be eaten raw or only cooked for a very short time.
Favorite recipes from “Miss Green”
Karina Noumans personal “highlight” is the Wild Garlic Blossom Vinegar. To do this, the herbal expert picks enough white wild garlic blossoms to fill a glass of the desired size halfway. Then white balsamic vinegar is added. “It harmonises perfectly!”
A treat too wild garlic hummus. To do this, puree the chopped wild garlic with the chickpeas, season with olive oil, salt and pepper. “If you want, you can add tahini – i.e. sesame paste – to the whole thing, just like in the original. “It tastes sensational in any case!
Be careful when collecting!
“Wild garlic is quickly confused with other poisonous plants such as lily of the valley or autumn crocus,” warns Karina Nouman. “Even the smell is not a reliable indicator, because if you have previously collected wild garlic, the juice sticking to your hands can simulate the smell of garlic.”
Just three to four leaves of the autumn crocus can be deadly. The cell toxin contained in the plant – colchicine – only takes effect after several hours. The first signs of poisoning are nausea and vomiting. Confusion with lily of the valley usually does not have such serious consequences: glycosides, which can cause cardiac arrhythmias, are toxic for humans.