Wild Allium Butter and Pickles


Sometimes revolutions are quiet and stink of garlic.  I never could have imagined that finding wild allium would bring such delightful changes to my kitchen.  But it a way, it has changed my game entirely.  You see, I can find my own meat and vegetables, but I still largely rely upon purchased onions and garlic to season my cooking.  Oh sure, I have chives in my garden, and occasionally run across nodding onions in the mountains.  But now, having a patch of allium so close to home and in such plenty, I know that if need be, I don't have to buy any food.  And that's not to say that's how I wish to live all the time; I really enjoy some non-local and non-foraged foods - avocados, cheese, black pepper, and more.  But with the addition of wild allium to my cooking repetoire, I know that I can produce complex, tasty, and all-wild meals (save salt, but if anyone out there knows a safe way to extract clean salt from salt marshes, please let me know!).  This pleases me immensely.

So, the next real question is how to best take advantage of the growing season's bounty of wild allium.  How best to preserve it, so that it can be enjoyed year round.  One of my major goals for this foraging season is to preserve more small batches of greens and vegetables throughout the warm months, and not just concentrate on putting up fruit in the fall.  If I can accomplish my goal, this will be useful on several fronts.  First of all, I'm not overwhelmingly fond of sweets, and I'll be happy to have more veg and less jam in the pantry going into the winter.  Secondly, if I make small batches of preserves throughout the growing season, hopefully it'll spare me the rush of canning exceedingly large batches of food come fall.  The sheer workload of it had me feeling pretty grumpy by the end of the harvest last year.

A foraging friend sent me this great recipe for wild garlic pickles on CookBlog.  I pretty much followed the recipe, in my haphazard non-measuring sort of way.  These pickles taste great on their own.  But if they make it into the winter, I think that they'd also be a nice addition to all sorts of slow-cooking dishes.  After all, those type of dishes always benefit from both garlic and a little vinegar.  And if you make this recipe, don't forget to use all of that tasty allium-infused vinegar for making salad dressings, etc.

Next up, a way to preserve those long and tasty green tops (there are pictures of them here).  For the most part, I use the tender tops, nearest to the growing end, fresh and in cooking.  But further down the stalk, the greens become a bit tougher (although not inedible).  These are what I used to make wild garlic butter.  I simply minced them finely, and stirred them into softened butter.  I don't why it hasn't occurred to me before, but compound butter is a clever way to take the taste of summer deep into winter.  Rolled up in parchment paper logs, wild garlic freezes very well, and little coins can be sliced off as needed, and added to innumerable dishes - atop meats, veg, pasta, bakes potatoes, quinoa, for mounting sauces, etc.  Good stuff, make a ton!

Just one more quick thing to note about the wild allium.  I've been working with it for a while now, and I've learned a few lessons.  First, wild allium keeps best in the fridge unwashed.  When I bring a batch home, I cut the white bulbs from the stems, put them into separate bags, and then store them in the crisper.  Kept dirty this way (seriously, leave some nice dirt on those bulbs!), I've had them last over two weeks.  Washed, they only keep a few days.

Secondly, if you are cleaning a large batch of the allium, like for the pickle recipe, do it in a bucket - outside.  This saves both water and a mess in your kitchen.  And if your allium is anywhere near as strong as the stuff I pick, wear gloves.  The first time I cleaned a big batch, after an hour of rubbing the bulbs to get them clean, and chopping them up, I ended up with my fingers on fire, much the same as capsicum burn.

I'm sharing these recipes with the Hearth and Soul Hop, and Real Food Wednesday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Comments

  1. I'm going to look for wild garlic at our local market. I love canning and preserving and haven't seen this recipe before. I'll bet it would be great in the slow cooker, too. Gotta try it! Thanks for the idea.

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  2. You had me at wild garlic! I accidentally created a large patch of what I call my feral garlic - domesticated garlic that has gone wild and has been reproducing on its own for several years now. The bulbs look like yours rather than what you see at the store and I've been wondering what to do with it - now I know! I will be trying both of these recipes this weekend. Thanks for sharing your incredible foraging posts with the Hearth and Soul Hop; I always learn so much.

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  3. It is always interesting to visit here! Thanks for linking this to the Hearth n Soul hop.

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  4. I always forget about compound butter too-- usually I perserve herbs by pureeing with olive oil and freezing in ice cube trays, then transfering over to sealed containers. Great reminder!

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  5. Yum. Love the butter idea. I am in that mode, too, of starting to preserve summer's bounty. In the last week I made two batches of strawberry freezer jam and one of apricot freezer jam. I'm going to love it when we pull one of those jars out of the freezer in December!

    Sadly, garlic doesn't grow wild here, except in the farmers' market, lol!

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  6. I love garlic butter - oh, how yummy! I love the idea of making it into logs to freeze and then to slice off pieces as needed - you are brilliant!!
    I am slowly learning to preserve - I love the idea of real real real food in the winter!!

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  7. Yay! I'm totally psyched about the frozen butter idea, too! I think it really helps to have your produce preserved in a wide variety of ways, that way you've got more space, and things seem more interesting come winter. But let me say again, this garlic butter is good on just about everything. If you get the chance, make a few pounds of it!

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