Garlic Mustard

May is the month when the woods and roadsides of North America are covered with the flowers of the invasive garlic mustard plant. Probably the right attitude to take towards it is to pull it out by its roots every chance you get. But once you have done that, you might as well try eating it. One reason Europeans ever brought it to this continent in the first place was as a food plant.

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All parts of the plant are edible, if you like the taste. I’ve tasted pesto made of the leaves and didn’t like it enough to try making it myself. It was garlicky but had an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste. But I had heard that the flower stalks have a milder flavor than the leaves, so I decided to give them a try.

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I picked them while the flowers were still in bud and removed the buds and leaves. I cooked them in a small amount of water for about five minutes, then ate them with butter and salt. The came out tender like asparagus and the flavor was, in fact, milder than the pesto I had previously tasted. But there was still that bitter aftertaste.

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I haven’t given up on garlic mustard yet. There are many more ways to eat it, so watch this space for future experiments.

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