Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) grows during the spring, and is a delightful punchy wild green which can be incorporated into a huge number of dishes and preserves. Identifying Wild Garlic isn't too difficult since it smells of Garlic (you can almost smell it before you see it). It has soft, long tapered bright green leaves with no tails near the stem (be careful not to confuse it with Lords and Ladies/
Arum maculatum which often grows very close by - see this Instagram video to help with identification/avoidance of confusion between these two species).
One of my favourite thing to do with the unopened wild garlic flowers is to sweet pickle them with a selection of spices. This is one of my most popular tasters on my courses - the pungent garlicky kick of the flowerbud combines so well with the sweet and sharp pickle. What a brilliant way to preserve this very special wild ingredient! You can choose to either pickle the buds only, or (as I do) the buds on their stems - because these stems are themselves a delight.
Wild Garlic flower buds - a large handful for a medium-sized jar - or as many as you have time to sustainably harvest (don't take them all!).
Vinegar (I use cider or white wine vinegar - but white vinegar will do!).
Sugar - to taste
Whole dried spices to taste (I use a combination of dried chillis, corriander seeds, cumin seeds, hogweed seeds and black peppercorns. Experiment!).
Wash and prepare your Wild Garlic buds.
Sterilise your jars and pack your buds in - the more tightly packed - the less likely they will float halfway up the jar!
Measure out enough vinegar to cover your flower buds (you can do this by pouring it into the filled jar - then pouring it back out again!).
Bring this to a simmer in a pan, add sugar to taste (I usually add roughly one tbsp per medium-sized jar). Add a tsp of salt per medium-sized jar of pickles.
Add your selected spices, to taste.
Pour over the flower buds, seal the jar tightly.
The pickles will keep unopened in a cool place for up to a year, but once opened keep them in the fridge and use within 6 months.