The Common Weed
Memories of my childhood are always flooding into my brain. Growing up in the Hudson Valley was incredible for my youth and outdoor skills. Hot sunny days reminisce upon my senses and I can remember one invasive weed that always intrigued my senses. The plant appeared as grass but its blades were hollow and scented with onion. I picked it and played with it until I couldn’t bear the smell. Fast forward and that plant would be revealed to me as Allium Vineale or Field Garlic. Conveniently enough I passed by dozens of it on my walk home from campus!
Originating in Europe and Asia, Field Garlic was introduced by settlers to North America during the colonial era. By far one of the greatest qualities about this plant is that it’s entirely edible (although not as tasty in specific seasons) and readily available all year long. Since we’re in the midst of the winter, foraging for the majority of North Eastern plant edibles can be quite challenging and without the proper knowledge you won’t find much of anything. Some ways to identify Field Garlic are its vibrant green hollow blades and clumped, web-like root system. The best place to find Field Garlic is at the base of a tree because the fallen leaves will fertilize the plant meanwhile the tree trunk sets a path for runoff water. When you dig some of up there will be these tiny white bulbs at the root which are basically onions. When fully mature the bulbs are surrounded by itty-bitty cloves of garlic (again this depends on the season).
This delectable veggie can be found almost anywhere from open fields, to shady forests, creeksides, roadsides and waterfronts. Upon my journey I didn’t have to look farther than the backyard of my house. Winter seasons will produce Field Garlic that is slightly immature and therefore you won’t yield sizable bulbs. The best season to hunt would be mid-summer where you’d be able to find thumbnail sized garlic cloves on the stalks as well as juicy pearl onions beneath the soil. Below are photos showing my process to cleaning the bulbs of their dirt and grime. After about 30 minutes I was left with a nice amount of onion bulbs and mini garlic cloves which can be stored for up to 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Once skinned and dried, I roughly chopped up about a ¼ cups worth and fried them with my eggs the following morning. The result was very tasty with Field Garlic having become a culinary staple in my kitchen. Good luck hunters. Trust your instincts!