Three beautiful blades of Wild garlic / Ramsons / Daslook (Allium ursinum), plucked from the River of Herbs orchards in Park Frankendael today. I made some pungent daslook sauce from these, by blending them with olive oil and a little apple cider vinegar.
And here are a couple of year old wild garlic bulbs which I removed from the orchard path. The reason for this is discussed in the podcast. Have a listen and let me know your uses for the plant and if you have had any success growing it. The paths are edged with fallen branches. In this photo you can see how the plant spreads into the paths.
I only forage wild garlic when there are huge swathes of it and the leaves are a few inches long.
I’m off to make some dinner using a little of that sauce now. Perhaps you would like to listen to my latest podcast, about ethically foraging Wild Garlic and how to use it.
I stood stupefied and watched a woman take out a knife and cut bunches of Wild garlic from inside the entrance of Park Frankendael this evening. Felt so mad and sad and bewildered that I didn’t know where to begin with her. So just stared at the mini massacre until she saw me and my little girl watching and finally she stopped.
Ramsons/Daslook/Wild garlic/Allium ursinum tastes outrageously good but it should be harvested gently! It is currently on the endangered list in NL so strictly, even though it’s almost a weed in some parts of some Amsterdam parks, it should not be cut or ripped out in handfuls! And even if it is prolific everywhere how could it feel good to rip or cut it like that!
If you know of a plentiful supply please go for the out-spill plants – where it’s growing in paths etc and will be rooted out by the park gardeners. Or grow your own. Or meet the park gardener and ask where/if he/she suggests you forage. And use your common sense. That woman foraged from the filthiest part of the park – dog spot number one – right by the main gates. Come on!
And even when you find thousands of those leaves, please know that just three leaves, plucked between finger and thumb are needed to make enough pesto, herb oil or mojo to last several weeks. After plucking carefully, no one should be able to see that anything has gone.
If you want some Daslook but still don’t know where, when and how to pluck it, please come and see me on Wednesday morning at the Frankendael orchards (10.00 – 11.00 behind Huize Frankendael). You can take home your own plant too, if you like.
I passed by Flevopark this afternoon and saw masses of Wild Garlic, still looking very good! At the front of the photo you may be able to see lots of Elder (Sambucus nigra) shrubs, just coming into leaf.
My favourite find of the day, Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). It makes a wonderful mild but effective remedy for coughs. Here’s a link to Susun Weed harvesting and preparing it for such a purpose. Making Coltsfoot honey is very easy and very useful.
Coltsfoot is of the same family as Butterbur and Fuki which I’ve been noticing a lot lately. All of these plants send up flowers before their kidney shaped leaves. All are quite striking. I’ve never found enough Coltsfoot in Amsterdam to harvest but I’ll keep on hoping.
Here’s a plentiful herb which nobody ever minds me harvesting – Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). It is getting better by the day at present.
And lastly today, another plant I was delighted to find on our trip today. These are the cones of an Alder tree (Alnus sp). Alder is the only deciduous tree which bears cones. I’m saving lots which I collected from the ground today, to help create a well dressing. Glennie Kindred has helped revive this ancient craft and I’ll be having a go at making one very soon in Amsterdam. Scroll through the 18 images on that link and you’ll see how the cones are used – quite stunning! Alder comes were traditionally used to create the edges or lines of the designs.
Alder also bears beautiful catkins, giving more than a hint that it belongs to the Birch family. I found a branch of Italian Alder on the ground in Oud Zuid a few weeks ago. That is now growing lovely leaves in a base of water at home. Still no roots though.
Finding this discarded bunch of foraged ramsons, made me very sad yesterday. Not only did someone harvest the flowers of this wonderful wild herb but they also didn’t even eat them! I was even sadder to see them still on the ground, this morning. The flowers of wild garlic taste inferior to the leaves and by removing them, careless foragers prevent new seeds being formed so this bulbous plant can spread far and wide.
Please spread the word about how to forage responsibly so that everyone can enjoy herbal beauty and bounty in our cities, for generations to come.
On Thursday I visited my freinds in De Hortus Botanicus and helped them to harvest some Wild Garlic/Ramsons (Allium ursinum, NL:Daslook). It grows vigorously in several parts of the beautiful garden and periodically is removed from paths and areas where it out-competes other plants in the Hortus collection. I took home a large tub of whole Ramson plants; roots, bulbs, leaves and all. I made a delicious batch of Last Chance Ramson Pesto.
So why Last Chance, you may ask? In my local Frankendael Park, the Ramsons are currently in flower so it’s too late to harvest them. Ramsons are still edible when in flower but they taste rather unpleasant. The Ramsons in de Hortus are not yet in flower and they taste great! In another week or so they too will be in flower and it will be almost another year until they are fit for the plate. Another reason for my excitement is that I can only harvest Ramson leaves from the local parks. Harvesting the roots and bulbs would destroy the plants so of course is completely out of the question for wild plants in their natural habitat.
Last Chance Ramson Pesto – vary the proportions as you wish. Those stated made a good thick paste.
Carefully wash the Ramsons (as you would spring onions), discard any odd squidgy bits from around the bulbs and trim off any really dirty roots.
Roughly chop the clean Ramsons and place in blender. I had about 150g Ramsons.
Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to blender. I added about 200ml.
Add finest quality pine nuts (beware cheap ones, many people have a bad reaction to them). I added 50g.
Add a good grating of rock salt and pepper.
Blend gradually until a thick paste is made. I needed to interrupt blending several times to scrape down the paste.
When a homogeneous consistency has been made, add grated cheese and blend a little more to combine and break up the cheese (hard goats cheese for me, you may like Pecorino, Parmesan or similar).
The result should be a paste which is thick enough to dollop into cooking mixes and thin enough to be stirred straight into hot pasta. Add more Olive Oil or more cheese to obtain a better consistency if required. I made about 650ml of pesto. It will keep me going for quite some time.
Store in sterile jars and refrigerate or freeze in ice cube trays.
Use as a straight pesto on pasta or as a super garlicy seasoning in other dishes. I added two teaspoons of my pesto to this sauce for salmon and prawns. It was delicious! I understand that Michael used it on fresh cheese ravioli and I used it the next day in a risotto. The list of uses is endless…