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!
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.