Natural Food: Wild Garlic
By Paul A.T. Wilson
Last weekend we decided it was time to start foraging for the year as the week prior we had noticed some woodland on the Island that was just over-flowing with wild garlic. You will know it is wild galic by the long leaves and the amazng garlic/spring onion smell. WARNING: If in doubt, leave alone and ask someone who does know.
Unlike "normal" garlic you don't tend to eat the bulbs, that is not to say you can't it's just that they are extremely small and really not worth the effort of extacting them. It's the leaves that are worth harvesting and to be honest it's so easy to do, why not give it a go?
Natural Food Ep 1 - Wild Garlic
In the first of our Natural Food series we will be foraging for Wild Garlic, bringing it home and preparing it for fermentation. The Fermentation process will help to naturally preserve the wild garlic for use later in the year.
Fermentation has been used for centuries as a way of preserving food. It is easy to do and the results are outstanding.
Health Benefits of Wild Garlic
Well known for its antibacterial properties there is some evidence that is has antiviral peroperties too (though the jury is still out on this).
High in vitamins A and C, copper, sodium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It is a great additive if you're pregnant or suffer from anaemia.
Some studies have shown that it can help reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. It is thought that wild garlic also can help blood flow.
Wild Garlic Falvoured Bread
This is a simple bread recipe that is flavoured with wild garlic. Easy to make and tastes amazing. If you don't have any wild garlic, you can use normal garlic that you find at a good farm shop. However, wild galic is the best and if you have preserved your early spring bounty you will have it to use all year round.
- 400g of strong white bread flour - we reccomend you try to source some locally milled flour. The Island has a wonderful mill (Calbourne Water Mill & Rural Museum) and their flour has an amazing texture and taste.
- 300ml of water - If it's a very cold day then use luke warm water, if not then it's perfectly fine to use room temperature. The warm water will speed up the prove time, but remember: The longer the prove, the tastier the bread.
- Sachet of bread yeast - For this recipe you can use standard fast action yeast, if you're new to bread making it's probably best to stick with this. In a later article we will talk about making your own starter, but let's not complicate things now.
- Wild garlic - If using fresh wild garlic, then a large handful should be enough: make sure you wash it well and chop it up fairly small. If you're using normal galic, then one or two cloves should be fine. If you're using fermented, then a couple of table spoons should be more than enough: ensure you dry it off with paper towel and cut it up quite finely
- Unsalted butter - some of the best better you can find comes from Briddlesford Farm on the Island. In a later video and article, we will go through making your own butter, but for now a good quality local butter will be perfect.
- Salt and Pepper - get yourself some good sea-salt and peppercorns. Milling your own pepper and salt really does taste so much better than the pre-ground stuff.
- Mix the dry - Start by placing the flour in a bowl, then add in the yeast on one side of the bowl and a teaspoon of the ground sea-salt on the opposite side. It is important you don't directly mix the yeast and the salt as it can kill the yeast. If you want to add a little magic into your bread then place the yeast to the east and the salt to the west -- legend has it that the faeries will then magically empart some of their dust to ensure your bread will rise perfectly.
- Add the water - Make a little well in the middle of the flour and pour in your water. You can use a mixer at this point, but if you really want to become one with your bread do it by hand. Bring the dough together and then empty it out onto a floured counter. Knead your dough for 10 to 15 minutes until it has become really elastic and smooth. Best way to check is the break off a little bit and stetch the dough an if you can see through it without it breaking then it's ready.
- The first prove - Put your dough in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth (or you can use cling wrap if you like) and leave it in a warm place to grow. Don't rush it, let it do it's thing and let it double in size. Bread making is not a quick task, it takes time and love; the longer it takes, the better the bread. Ever wondered why store bought bread sits badly in your stomach and has no taste? It's because they don't take their time and add enzymes to speed up the process.
- Nocking back and adding the garlic - Once your dough has doubled in size it is time to "knock it back". Before you take it out of the bowl, give the top of the dough a little whack, you will see it starts to deflate and that is perfectly normal. Warm up some of your butter and mix in the wild garlic, salt and pepper to taste, then pour it over your dough and start to mix it in. When your dough, butter and galic mix are kneaded together, lightly flour your surface and turn out the dough.
- Forming your bread rolls and second prove - We're nearly there. Flatten out your dough and devide into a dozen (12) equal balls. Place baking parchment on a tray and place your balls on the parchment. If you want "tear and share" then place the balls together, almost touching, if not then place them further apart. Oil some cling film and loosely place over the tray. Let them prove again for around 50 minutes in a warm place, but don't let them over-prove.
- Cooking - Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C, fill an oven proof pot with boiling water and place it in the bottom of the oven -- the steam will give you lovely crunchy rolls. When the oven is at the correct temperature, take the cling film off the rolls gently (you don't want to knock out the air) and place in the oven. Bake them for 25 minute or until nice an brown on top. If you're not sure, then take one of the rolls out, tap on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow.
- Eat - Once cooked, let the rolls cool for a few minutes. Hopefully you have some of your butter and galic mixture left over (if not, make some more!). Pull a roll apart and dip it in the buttery, garlicy mixture. Heaven!