Wild onions …

This year, I discovered another wild edible at the parent’s copse while picking wild garlic … its cousin, the wild onion!

Unfortunately, there were not many so I could not pick them as merrily as I had done with the wild garlic. I picked only a few to bring home as I chose to leave the rest so that they could continue to grow with the hope of a more abundant harvest of wild onions next year.

However, when I went back a month later to take a look at my newly found treasure, I was frustrated at not being able to locate the small wild onion patch … even though I had left a marker near the patch. The marker was gone (okay, it was only a twig) and despite straining my eyes very hard to try to locate the wild onions where I vaguely remembered to have seen them on my previous visit, I could not find any! Arghhh …

But I remained hopeful. Normally, the onions should flower in summer, so that on my next visit to the parents’ copse, I would keep a lookout for some onion blooms. If the wild onions were still there, then I would be able to find them again.

Interestingly, my very first encounter with the wild onions was by chance. It was when we were waiting for the daddy-man to come and fetch us to go to their place … at a bus stop in the countryside near the Swiss-French border. That was in early spring last year and, at that time, I did not know anything about wild onions.

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They had caught my eyes only because they looked so lovely and interesting with their leaves twisted in all directions. And because of this peculiarity, they really stood out against the grass and other plants that were growing around them.

Since I had my camera with me, I decided to take several snapshots of these plants – unusual, but so pleasing to the eye.

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As fate would have it, I accidentally stumbled across pictures of wild onions on the Internet while we were still at the parents. And they looked just like the pictures that I had taken of the curly plants that I had seen near the bus stop. So on the way back two days later, I asked the daddy-man to make a brief stop at the very same place so that I would be able to pick the plants.

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However,  while the hubby and I were trying to pull at the wild onions, a car pulled at a stop next to us and the driver sternly told us not to pick the wild onions as they were growing next to a farm field which would have been sprayed with chemical pesticide. And he waited until we had got into the car before he would drive off. He was right about the health risk… but the way he was telling us off was a little strange to me. He could have told us nicely … instead of being rather fierce about it. In fact, he had looked and sounded almost angry. Hmmm …

Fortunately, we managed to tear off one of the wild onion stems before the ‘concerned fellow’ came to tell us off … so that I was able to do the smelling test to verify if the curly plants were indeed wild onions. Even without the bulb, it had that unmistakable ‘oniony’ smell!

Apart from that one time, I did not find any more wild onions … until I stumbled across them while I was picking wild garlic at the parents’ copse in spring this year.

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The wild onions were partially hidden among the wild garlic, wild strawberries and other weed plants so that they were not immediately noticeable.

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But after having read up a lot more about wild onions … my interest was stirred when I saw these long straight tube like leaves as I knew about the many different varieties and species of wild onions. And not all of them have the beautiful curls of the first variety of wild onions that I had found last year.

The only way to confirm my suspicion was to pull out one of them.

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Oh yes, I found my little treasure.🙂 When I excitedly told the mum that I had found wild onions in their copse, she informed me that they must have been chives from the seeds that she had scattered in the copse. That piece of news put a little damper to my finding because if that had been the case, then it was not a true ‘wild onion’. But I knew what I had found … so when I got home, I quickly dug out the chives growing on my balcony so that I could compare the two.

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And voilà! As you can see … they are not the same plants. Whereas chives have almost non-existent bulbs (and look rather like a mini version of leeks), the ones that I had found had those unmistakable onion bulbs, even though they were very, very small.

It was too bad that I could not find them again on my next visit … but I refused to give up hope of finding some wild onions … somewhere … as long as the warm season would still be under way.

And true enough …

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… just a week later, while making our way home after having checked out and taken plenty of photos of the lovely wild narcissus that the hubby had just discovered earlier this year growing closer to home than up at the mountains … I found my wild onions in an unlikely place.

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Given the location where they were growing, next to a walking path along a road, I could not give in to my foraging instinct. With a heavy heart, I had to leave them.

And it was not until a week ago that I finally found my wild onions, again … this time, while we were searching for a waterfall in the woods at a village called La Sarraz, deeper in the canton of Vaud. I suppose you could call it … fate! hehehe …  :-D

We had taken a wrong turn … and had found ourselves in a small wooded area not far from a river.

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And it was here while we were trying to look for the directions to the elusive waterfall, that I accidentally spotted these beauties growing just next to the small walking path … the unmistakable flower buds of the wild onions!

There were not that many of them … or, at least, we did not have the time for me to go and check out the areas for more of them as the hubby wanted to make sure that we would see the waterfall. But he kindly helped me to dig out the onions as they were really strongly rooted to the earth.

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Being responsible foragers, we took only a few bulbs and we left a few back in the soil so that they could regrow.

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The bulbs after I had cut and cleaned them. Yes, I know that they are really quite tiny … and not even enough to make a decent meal for the two of us. But I found my wild onions … and I got to cook with them. The forager in me could not be any happier! hehehe …😀

And who knows … maybe if I am lucky, I shall find more of them before the summer is over! One can always hope right?

 

Wild garlic …

The fasting month is over and the balcony garden is more or less on its own foot now, so I am quite eager to go out and do some summer foraging on my own. From the brief ‘recceing’ that I had done while running some errands on foot, I have already identified some stuff that I am keen to lay my hands on before it is too late. After all, foraging for wild food is all about timing. You need to be there at the right season and at the right time to forage for the edibles that you covet. Having missed many foraging opportunities in spring, I wanted to make sure that I would make up for it in summer! Errr … and in autumn, too, of course!😉

But first, let me share about wild garlic … also known as bear’s garlic in French and German or ramson in the United Kingdom.

As I mentioned in an old post on wild garlic, it was the mum who introduced me to the wild garlic plants that were growing in their copse. And ever since I got to know about their wild existence, each year without fail I would pick some to bring home for us to be able to enjoy these early spring delicacies.

Hmmm … maybe picking ‘some’ might not be quite the correct word  to use.

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Picking a paper bag full … enough to fill three colanders would be a more accurate description! hehehe …😀

Well … since the parents do not live near us, it makes sense to pick as much as I can whenever I have the chance to do so. Especially since these are seasonal delicacies and they have only a very short season and neither the parents nor their neighbours seem interested in these spring edibles growing in their copse.

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Wild garlic greens covering the slope leading to the stream in the copse below the parents’ home.

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And there were even more of them growing on the opposite side of the small stream. Basically, the stretch along the stream is a wild garlic haven.

However, as most of them were growing on a slope, it was literally a back-breaking endeavour having to bend down while at times maintaining one’s balance on the slope in order to pick them.

But they were free and available … and would have wilted and died away if nobody picked them (only to grow in even greater quantity the following year) … so, it was my sacred duty to help control their growth and not to throw away free food for the taking!😀

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The same slope when the wild garlic plants were in full blooms two years ago.

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Unfortunately, I missed this blooming spectacle last year and again this year. There were not that many open blooms when I visited the parents in April and early May. And by the time I visited the parents again in early June … their blooming season was already over.

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All that was left were just these seed pods. But as I had learnt just earlier this year from a video on wild foraging that these pods could also be used in cooking …

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… so I was more than happy to pick these, too! I used them to flavour my pasta dishes and vegetable stir-fries. Crushing them before putting into the mix helped to release their flavour. Kept in the fridge these seed pods seem to last for weeks.

By the way, this year I am happy to have discovered a small patch of wild garlic growing not too far away from home. However, as it was just a very small patch and as it was growing next to a small road, I decided to leave the patch alone. Nonetheless, I could not resist the temptation to pick more of them when I saw a sizeable patch during our annual trip up the mountains to pay the lovely narcissus a visit!

So what did I do with my big stash of wild garlic leaves?

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Well … the main bulk of the wild garlic leaves, together with fresh bay leaves (which I also ‘foraged’ at the parents😉 ) became pesto sauce.

I stored the uncooked pesto sauce in small plastic containers in the freezer so that I only need to take out one small container at a time for cooking, thus leaving the rest untouched in the freezer. Done this way, they keep for a long time … providing me with wild garlic pesto throughout the year until I am able to make a fresh batch at the next wild garlic season.

Previously, I used the pesto only for preparing our pasta meals. But this year … I decided to be a bit more adventurous.

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I also used it as the basic spread on ready made flatbread instead of the usual tomato sauce to make what the hubby called mini pizza …

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.. as well as to make wild garlic breads.

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And I also made wild garlic pinwheels using store bought pastry base for making croissants. This quickly became one of my favourite ways of using the wild garlic pesto as it is not only easy to make but it also tastes so yummy. The buttery taste of the croissant pastry goes very well with the wild garlic pesto.

I also tried using the pastry base for making apple tart and this turned out more like biscuits … which the hubby seemed to prefer, especially after these ‘biscuits’ had cooled down. He claims that they are very addictive!🙂

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Apart from pesto, the wild garlic leaves also make quite a tasty soup. There are several recipes on wild garlic soup to choose from the Internet and of course, I chose the easiest to do using ingredients that were already available. The dainty white flowers of the wild garlic made a nice garnish as they are also edible.

And as for the rest of the fresh leaves, I just chopped them and …

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… added them into vegetable stir fries.

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… into soup noddles.

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… into fried rice.

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.. and also into vegetable fritters!

Nothing fancy, I know … but they fed our tummies, and I really enjoyed eating them knowing that I had picked them in the wild. These wild food is like gifts from heaven. Life cannot be any simpler and more satisfying.

Other entries on wild garlic:

 

Eid Mubarak …

Alhamdullilah … like several million other Muslims who live in this part of the hemisphere, I have survived my first fasting during those two months of the year with the longest days. Indeed, the days were long … but we were so fortunate in Lausanne that the start of fasting was accompanied by frequent rains and cool weather.  By the time the weather had decided to turn for the worst (for the fasting … but definitely for the better for my babies on the balcony!) we were already nearing the end of Ramadan.

It is with sadness and much reluctance that I let the blessed month go on its way … but … inshaaAllah, I hope to welcome it again next year.

In the meantime …

Hari Raya 2016

For my non-Malay speakers … the pantun or quatrain loosely translates …

Flowers that beautiful and bright,
Being look in Eid-ul-Fitr,
Speech being sent as personal substitute,
Memento not forget at heart.

… by one of the free online translation services! hehehe …😀

Oh well … I did not want to have to think too hard about how it translates into English … but I am sure that you get the gist of its meaning, no?😉