Pickled Wild Garlic recipe (Makes 200g)
I suspect the reason why these pickles are so popular isn’t just because of the wild garlic, but because of the sweet vinegar they are imbibed in. It is infused with two of the most delicious spring flavours – wood sorrel and wasabi-like ladysmock (Cardamine pratensis.)
Wood sorrel is lemony. The acidic taste adds fruitiness to vinegar. You can replace wood sorrel with common sorrel.
The ladysmock lends a very helpful dose of mustard and strangely cooling heat (you’ll have to nibble on some to see how a plant can be cooling and hot at the same time, but trust me on this, it is.) If you don’t have Ladysmock you can use horseradish or wasabi. It is a brassica so another brassica flower (think rocket, broccoli, or the wild mustards) can take you some of the way.
My base recipe for pickling wild garlic buds can be applied to the stems, flowers and seeds.
TO PREPARE THE WILD GARLIC
Pack your wild garlic flower buds, seeds or stems into your sterilised jar.
Pour over a cooled 6% salt brine solution and ensure that all the plant is covered (a fermenting weight or a bag filled with water will help keep everything submerged)
Place in a cool area for 2 days, checking occasionally to make sure nothing is above the water.
The wild garlic will start to become even more intense in smell than when it was in the woods, strain off the water and place your wild garlic in a clean cloth and squeeze until as much water has been removed from the plant as possible – leave the wild garlic to dry out further, whilst rewashing and sterilizing the jar.
Once the jar is clean, pack with the wild garlic and pour over your hot pickling solution, filling the jar up to almost the top. Seal with clean lids and turn the jars upside down whilst they cool. (remember to tighten your lids)
TO MAKE THE PICKLING VINEGAR
In a pan gently heat 200ml of good quality cider vinegar.
When warm, add a loose cup full of sorrel, and ladysmock (about 25 g of each) or 1 tbsp of freshly grated horseradish root.
Leave to infuse in the warm vinegar for 30 minutes before straining out.
Bring the flavoured vinegar close to the boil.
Stir in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, testing for sweetness as each spoonful is dissolved – you want to have a sweetness that softens any harshness in the vinegar, without becoming cloyingly sweet – I usually use about 2 tbsp for 200ml vinegar, but vinegars vary in sweetness, like tastebuds and people, so just taste until you achieve the kind of personality you like.
The vinegar from a good pickle should be as delicious as the pickle itself, and this is no exception. It’s ingredient enough to be used in bloody marys and dirty martinis, or drizzled over roasted peppers to make antipasti just that bit wilder.