Pickled Wild Garlic Seeds
Appearing once the white flowers are gone and the leaves are beginning to wither, the plump green seeds are the last hurrah of the wild garlic season. These juicy little nuggets are intensely flavoured and can be used to make an easy pickle that will satisfy those wild garlic cravings until next year’s shoots begin to appear.
A little patience is a key ingredient here: for picking the seeds from the stalks (we use a fork to speed things up) and, once you’ve packed the seeds in salt, to wait three weeks followed by at least another month while they mature in the vinegar. But it’s worth the wait: you can use the pickled seeds as you would capers, to add bursts of garlicky sharpness to all kinds of savoury dishes. Gather the seedheads while the seeds are still green and juicy (once they turn black, they’re tooth-crackingly hard), leaving behind as much of the main stems as possible.
- 200–250g green wild garlic seedheads (to yield approximately
- 150g picked seeds, enough to fill a 300ml jar)
- 40g fine sea salt
- 300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 × 300ml pickling jar, sterilised
- Put the wild garlic seedheads into a large bowl of water and give them a good shake around to loosen any dried petals and other debris. Let them sit in the water for 45 minutes, which will allow most of the dirt and detritus to sink to the bottom. Lift out the seedheads with your fingers, then empty the bowl, rinse it clean, and add fresh water. Add the seedheads to the clean water and agitate them roughly once more. Let them sit for another 45 minutes, before lifting them out and rinsing them well under running water. Put them into a colander and leave them to drain well.
- Pick the individual seeds from the seedheads. This requires a bit of patience, but you can speed things up with a small pair of scissors or by using a fork to strip a whole head of seeds from the main stem in one movement (using a deep bowl is advised: the seeds have a tendency to shoot all over the place). Don’t worry too much about any fine stems that remain attached to the seeds. Once you have picked all the seeds, spread them out on a clean tea towel to dry completely.
- Put a heaped tablespoon of the dry seeds into the sterilised pickling jar, and sprinkle over some of the salt. Continue layering seeds and salt until the jar is full and all of the salt is used up. (Don’t worry too much about the salt being evenly distributed.) Fasten the lid onto the jar, and put the jar into the fridge. Leave it there for three weeks, shaking the jar every day or so.
- Once the three weeks is up, tip the salted seeds into a sieve and rinse them well. Spread them out on a clean tea towel and leave them to dry again. Meanwhile, wash and sterilise the jar again.
- Put the dry wild garlic seeds back into the jar. Pour over enough vinegar to cover, fasten the lid and leave to mature for at least one month, but preferably three.
- Stored in the fridge, the pickled seeds should keep for around twelve months.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK