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Wild Garlic

Common Name: Wild Garlic
Scientific Name: Allium canadense
Flowering: early summer
Habitat: Full - partial sun, bright shade, moist soil

Wild garlic is a member of the Lily family (Liliaceae). The above picture was taken in Montgomery County Illinois in mid-July. The cluster of bulblets at the top of the stem make the wild garlic easy to identify. Wild garlic can be found in every county in Illinois.

As you can see in the photo above, these sessile bulblets no longer have a flower at this point. Each cluster contains 6-25 bulblets that form at the top of a round stem 12" to 40" long. These garlic "seeds" will fall to the ground and (hopefully) sprout a new garlic plant the following season.

Harvesting of wild garlic is done after the flower dies off, and the thin fibrous casing around the bulbets breaks away so they can fall to the ground. The picture above was taken at that point. In wild, undisturbed soils you probably won't be able to just pull the garlic bulbs from the ground because of the strong fiberous root system (see photo below). Instead, take a trowel or shovel and loosen the soil about 2" from the base of the stem and you should then be able to pull up the garlic bulbs.

Both the foliage and bulbs of the plant are edible but have a strong flavor some people, and some animals dislike. To use the bulbs, harvest as directed above, then rinse the dirt from the bulbs. I like to let the bulbs dry on a cookie rack before storing. If dried properly, the bulbs can be stored for quite a while. I like to use the garlic leaves while they are still green. I cut a piece 2" - 3" long and rinse it with cold water. Chop the clean leaf into 1/8" pieces and use anywhere you would normally use garlic.

An example of leaf use is I like to add these pieces of garlic leaf to just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Warm oil over medium heat on the stove top. When the oil and garlic leaves are hot I add steaks that have been seasoned with my favorite dry steak seasoning. Something like "Weber Chicago steak seasoning" works well for me. Brown both sides of the steak on the stove top. About 2-3 minutes each side. Then put the entire cast iron skillet in preheated oven at 350. Bake until desired. I like mine medium rare so it only takes about 10 minutes in the oven.



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