While waiting for the first spring mushrooms, keep an eye open for the lush green foliage of wild garlic which is just beginning to emerge . . .
Ramsoms grow in profusion in damp woods, along overgrown footpaths and on waste ground. The large, glossy, dark green leaves and star-shaped white flowers mean it should be easily recognisable, but beware of possible confusion with superficially similar members of the poisonous lily family. Fortunately even complete novices can easily spot the difference by rubbing the leaves between finger and thumb. At this point the edible plant gives off a powerful scent which betrays its alternative epithet of wild garlic.
From a culinary point of view this is misleading, however, for if the smell is instantly recognisable, the taste is much milder than the papery white bulbs that dominate modern cookery. Ramsoms’ delicate flavour should not put off true garlic addicts, however. Treat it instead as a chive or spring onion substitute, where the subtler taste perfectly complements with the gentle qualities of salads, eggs or cheese. It is wonderful chopped into fresh green salads or used to flavour mayonnaise or a crème fraiche dip or try a ramsom omelette. Best of all, perhaps is the herb blended with mash, egg and flour to make aromatic potato cakes – perfect for the first al fresco picnic of the year. See recipe pages for instructions.