Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is a quick post for Susan in Italy, who left a comment about this lovely weed. It's called Jack-by-the-hedge, or garlic mustard, and its latin name is alliaria petiolata. It springs into life along the hedgerow at this time of year, with fresh green leaves and tiny brilliant white flowers. The leaves taste mildly of garlic and are absolutely terrific in salads because they are a decent size and love a good dressing. The leaves are very delicate and you would think they would wilt quickly, but they last well if you put the stems in water. They make a good sauce for lamb, and there is a 17th Century tradition of eating them with fish. In my view they are a great deal nicer than ramsons, the wild garlic with the quite tough leaves that appears a couple of weeks before them. You might at first confuse Jack-by-the-hedge with young nettles, but they are a much fresher green than nettles and the flowers are quite different. In the picture above there are nettles on either side of Jack - a darker green and, oh, you know what nettles look like!


Christina said...

What a lovely plant! Isn't it fun to feed oneself through foraging--in some ways, even better than feeding oneself through gardening. Thanks for telling us about this intriguing herb.

Maria said...

Just a quick visit from someone in Michigan over in the US. Garlic mustard is our scourge. It's so invasive that my town of Ann Arbor actually organizes neighborhood uprooting parties so that the parks and public spaces get cleared out in the spring. If my vigilance lapses for a week, my garden is over-run. I hadn't thought about eating it though. Perhaps we can make it fashionable in Michigan restaurants and create an economic incentive to root the stuff up.

June said...

Hi Maria
Our hedgerows are foaming with it too at this time of year, but nobody wants to uproot it. It just nods along with the cow parsley and the wild garlic in May, and then someone comes along and cuts the verges and it's gone for another year. But do try it as a salad, it's absolutely delicious. I make a stuffing for lamb with it too.

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