Where the Wild Foods Are

Garlic Bulblets: A Perfect Plant for Biscuits (Or Anything, Really)

By • July 7, 2014 • 3 Comments

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Foraged vegetables are always more fun to cook. So our resident forager, Tama Matsuoka Wong, is introducing us to the seasonal wild plants we should be looking for, and the recipes that will make our kitchens feel a little more wild.

Today: Spring garlic's summery, delicate offspring is as lovely to stumble upon as it is to use in virtually any dish. 

Garlic Bulbets

When the summer days are long, as they are now, we spend evenings on the porch barbecuing with friends and family who drop by for some summer greens and pasta salads, Asian summer rolls, and anything on the grill. 

Our guests often ramble around on the paths in our meadow or the edges of our backyard, and I love to point out the burgundy-tinted globes dotting the fields. They are wild garlic aerial bulblets, which we clip, break open, and add to all our casual summer dishes.

More: Toss your bulblets into a summer quinoa salad.

What I find fascinating about foraging is that it teaches me to better observe and use wild plants at their different stages through the year. I enjoy wild garlic shoots in the spring, but they soon turn bitter, sharp, and wiry. In summer, the garlic plant refocuses on making underground bulbs and, sometimes, above-ground bulblets.

Garlic Bulbets

By spring’s end, wild garlic shoots up stalks two feet or higher that form papery white wrappers known as spathes, inside which forms a burgundy-colored globe of mini bulblets. These are known as “aerial” bulblets, and in my opinion, they taste even better than their underground counterparts. 

Bulblets are commonly found in sunny fields, between farm and vegetable garden rows, and in “poorly maintained” lawn areas. They're often packed together tightly -- sometimes, you'll find as many as 300 little bulblets on a single globe. You can tell when they are ready because the spathe will split open. The globes must be ripe enough to split apart into the hundred or so bulblets, each one with a burgundy tinge at one end and a papery white tip at the other.

Garlic Bulbets

Some of the bulblets will form little green shoots and an occasional flower at the tip, which look like static electricity hair standing straight up on end. These shoots are fine to eat.

Garlic bulblets are crunchy, juicy, and sweetly garlicky. They're wonderful sprinkled raw on top of salads and hamburgers, tossed on the grill, or slipped into sandwiches instead of onion slices. You can also cook them into an oniony jam, or bake them into a lovely biscuit, like these. 

 

Garlic Bulbets

 

Wild Garlic Biscuits

Makes 2 dozen

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, cold, and cubed
3/4 cup wild garlic bulblets, broken apart
1 cup heavy cream
Milk (for brushing)
Onion salt (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Yossy Arefi

Note: When foraging, always choose high-quality landscapes (not next to the highway or on post-industrial or sprayed sites), and make sure to obtain permission if it is not your own yard. If possible, go out with an experienced forager. We assume no responsibility for any adverse effects from misidentification or incorrect use of featured wild plants. For more information and identification advice please consult us at meadowsandmore.com.

Jump to Comments (3)

Tags: Where the Wild Foods Are, foraging, garlic, biscuits

Comments (3)

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3 months ago tama matsuoka wong

I have not really seen it on the coast in BC, unfortunately... my inlaws have a place on vancouver island and I have not seen it there, although lots of other great things!

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3 months ago muse2323

I've never been able to find wild garlic in my area, even gathered by others at the farmer's market. I live in a "remote" coastal town in BC--is it possible that wild garlic doesn't grow here, or is it just that I haven't found it yet?

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4 months ago Cooking with Toddlers

This is so wonderful! We're trying to eat more foraged food, though I'm still a bit nervous about proper identification, especially with little kids. This looks divine and I must find some wild garlic bulblets so I can try.