Is «Ramsløk» a Green Gold Mine?

written by Freja

It goes by many names: Allium ursinum, ramson, wild garlic, northern garlic, «the magnesium king», buckrams, bear’s garlic and cow’s leek to mention a few.

In May the famous ramsløk re-entries Kooperativet bags for pleasure and joy.

The intense green, garlic fragrant trend has taken Norway and the rest of Scandinavia by storm! Particularly during the years of pandemic lockdown where many started spending hours walking in nature and wild ingredient gathering seriously took off. Though ramsløk has been known and used for many years (my first encounter was a «Bärlauch» pesto in a common restaurant in Berlin as early as 2006), it has now become a hyped, every day subject, a flourishing business and an integrated part of modern Scandinavian cuisine.
While many can’t wait to fly off and collect the first leaves of wild garlic, others are patiently waiting to find the luxurious ingredient in the late spring bag.

Wild garlic is a generous, all edible wild herb that is easily recognisable by the big green leaves and distinguished garlic smell. It grows in moist, shaded forest soils in Europe and Asia from around April to June and is famous for its mild garlic flavour and high amount of minerals.

But what to do with this exciting new player around the kitchen?
First and most importantly: Wild garlic loses a lot of its flavour when heated. If the flavour is required in soups, stews or similar add it at the very end of the cooking time or use usual garlic and save this treat for better purposes. 😉

Most recommended is to either dry the leaves and mix with salt (or mix with salt and dry salt) for a flavourful, green wild garlic salt to pour on fried potatoes, cooked eggs or where ever you want a mild garlic induced salt, or crunch the fresh leaves in a food processor or mortar with lots of olive oil for a beautiful green purée which can be added to mayonnaise for a smooth aioli, make a delicious herb butter or a garlic scented hollandaise sauce. The purée will last for months if supplied by a clean spoon, re-covered by olive oil and stored refrigerated or frozen, and who has ever experienced herb salt getting too old?
With the wild garlic purée and salt in the kitchen only your culinary deterrence is the limit.

The dark side of the gold mine.
While enjoying this exclusive wild herb, the general popularity is noticeable.
Many who travel into the forest clear out larger sites of wild garlic by the sacks – even in protected forest areas. Hence, unfortunately, the wild garlic was added to the red list of endangered species in Norway last year. Though not endangered yet, biologists expect it to be endangered within the next couple of years if this ravaging trend continues. Also in our neighbouring country Denmark, wild garlic is considered threatened due to people digging up wild plants to be self-sufficient.
On the positive site NIBIO Apelsvoll has tested the robustness of the wild plant and concludes that it withstands up to half of the leaves being picked. Furthermore the plant is easy to grow yourself if you collect the seeds at the end of the season or for larger cultivation.

So when you realize your sweet taste for delicious ramsløk, the mesmerizing green colour that lights up the summer meal with its mouth-watering garlic scent, remember to gather responsibly, not support over-harvesting and don’t remove the plant from its original site but enjoy the effort, the forest and savour every bit of this true gift of nature!


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