Wild garlic at Lymm Dam
11 March, 2019
The wild garlic is out and ready to pick, so I’d like to share with you Lymm Dam in Cheshire as my favourite place to go for harvesting.
The village of Lymm lies within beautiful Cheshire countryside below the Thelwall viaduct on the M6 between junctions 20 and 21. It’s a quaint English village with beautiful streets to wander through and traditional pubs to enjoy. Passing through the village, the Bridgewater Canal brings plenty of barges and narrowboats to admire as you walk through the village and along the canal.
Just south of the village, the reservoir and nature reserve at Lymm Dam is a popular area for walking, picnicking, fishing, and enjoying the rich wildlife both on the water and along the woodland walks. Following the pathway around the lake, and sitting at the back of the park, you will find the Crosfield bridge built by William Lever the founder of Lever Brothers, now the world-famous Unilever. You can also find the bridge at the end of The Avenue, WA13 0SX. From there, one side of the bridge will lead to the wildlife park. On the other side, and away from the dog walkers, the wild garlic grows in abundance along the muddy banks where the water level changes frequently. It’s this shaded area that gives the plant the right environment to prosper.
Wild garlic grows until the end of spring with the younger plants having more of a delicate flavour. Once the plant flowers the leaves have a stronger taste fairly similar to chives. The flower buds are edible as well but they too have quite a harsh onion taste so its best to harvest in March rather than in April. When planning your trip, don’t forget to take a pair of scissors to take the leaves while keeping the bulbs in the ground to allow the plant to keep growing back. Also bear in mind some areas in Lymm dam have been infected with Japanese knotweed so it’s important not to enter any cordoned off areas.
Wild garlic near the Crosfield Bridge
Wild garlic and tomato salad
Taking a day out to enjoy the beautiful English countryside is always a joy, so coming back with some tasty wild food is a bonus! It’s very important to give any wild food a thorough wash before eating. This is especially true for wild garlic because the smell of the plant can attract animals. Once you have washed the wild garlic it can be eaten raw as a salad and my favourite way to eat it is simply with sliced tomatoes. Unfortunately, the leaves don’t stay fresh for long so any leftover can be frozen in bags and used as herbs in cooked dishes or, in most recipes, it can be a direct replacement to frozen spinach. There is no need to chop before freezing as the delicate stems can be crumpled by hand and added to the pot while frozen. I love pasta dishes and often make my own wild garlic pesto sauce. Not only does it taste so wonderfully fresh and wild, the colour is much more vibrant than the supermarket sauces from the jar.