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Say hello to one of my kitchen secret weapons I start to forage for at the start of spring: Wild Garlic Butter.
During the first lockdown, during those scary days where no one knew what was going to happen next and the supermarket shelves were bare there was one shining light in the fact we’d accidentally become stuck at my parents house in the country, and not that we knew it at the time, never to live in our London home again: I was actually around to watch the fragrant banks that become heavy with wild garlic burst into life.
There was not really any wild wild garlic around the countryside in the bit of Kent where I grew up. I first encountered it at Borough Market at great expense (around the time I discovered Yorkshire forced rhubarb just after I moved back from California) but now, free, abundant food I could make for my family each night suddenly became my new obsession.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I use Wild Garlic Butter?
And the best thing I have ever made with wild garlic? Wild garlic butter. bright, rich, salty, garlicky butter, perfect for slathering on warm flatbreads if that is your thing, tossing just steamed green beans, and serving alongside delicious grilled steaks.
It also keeps for a good couple of weeks in the fridge it also freezes really well (bonus points if you do it in slices so you ca defrost portions as and when you need them) so you can enjoy wild garlic long after all the plants have wilted.
While my wild garlic pesto recipe is totally my own, I don’t think you can beat the wild garlic butter recipe from fellow East Kent food writer Rosie Birkett in her book The Joyful Home Cook (ad), which is the recipe included below with pretty much only one minor change. However, now I have made quite a few batches I do have some specific notes on ingredients and technique that will help make this excellent recipe truly great.
First, your butter. This is butter you’re going to enjoy, luxuriate in, so use the best you can afford. Really, I know recipes always say this, but here it really matters. Oh, and you want it almost liquid soft at room temperature for an even distribution of garlicly flavour and the best pretty green colour in the final product. Same goes with your extra virgin olive oil, but it also needs to be quite mild and light here, save your brightest, grassiest EVO for salads; it will overpower the butter, really the oil you’re adding here is for richness and texture.
I have so many different sea salts in my kitchen so obviously I’ve tried making this with a few; do for big Maldon flakes here because smaller ones, once they’ve been blitzed in the food processor might make your butter too salty.
Finally, lemon juice, which I really think is the ingredient that makes Rosie’s butter stand out from the rest of the recipes I’ve tried. It really gives the butter an addictive lift, but contrary to again, what you usually read in recipes here I think shit supermarket lemons are better; my one change to this recipe is I think using the 1/2 lemon she calls for her is a bit too much, unless you use a smaller, worse lemon, which gets you just about 1 tbsp of juice, which is why I’ve specified this amount.
Where can I find wild garlic?
The only question that remains is where to source your wild garlic. As I noted at the top of the post, if you’re a city dweller Borough Market and other specialist food and greengrocers usually sell some, though it can be pricy. If you don’t have a good foraging spot near you but you’re rural, the same goes for local farm shops and food halls; I know a big glossy shipment arrived at The Goods Shed in Canterbury yesterday!
If you do want to go the foraging route, my friend Gem has some great tips; I also concur with her tip to wash and dry it thoroughly before storing it in a zip lock back with a piece of kitchen towel for future recipes. This is also important with my final tip for making sure this butter is truly great; make sure you’ve removed as much water as possible from the outside of the leaves before blitzing to make sure your butter has a good texture!
This easy and delicious wild garlic butter is great for making ahead and freezing, and delicious served over steamed veg and grilled meats. Barely adapted from Rosie Birkett’s The Joyful Home Cook.
200g (7 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
30g (1 oz) wild garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp flaky sea salt
Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste a little and check to see if it needs any more sea salt added.
Cut off a good sized piece of baking parchment and lay it out on the worktop. Scrap the butter into a sort of sausage about 1/3 up leaving a good 5 cm clear at each end. Roll the butter up into a sausage, twisting the ends to seal.
Refrigerate ready to be used as needed, or until firm enough to slice up for freezing.
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