When I’m out on a walk in the countryside there are some plants I see growing wild, like dandelions, and I think “Yeah… I could eat that. But… Nah.” And there are others that make me think “Ooh, tasty!” Jack-by-the-Hedge is tasty! Not quite as delicious as wild garlic (what is?) but with that slight after-bite of mustard as well as its similarly garlicky taste, it is probably more exciting. Furthermore, it’s a weed that just grows everywhere, find it next to every hedgehow – hence the name!
Its leaves are quite similar looking to nettles, but there’s a little head of white clustered flowers at the top of each tall stalk. When you’re picking leaves it’s really tempting to go for the big ones which would make the job much quicker… but don’t! The bigger the bitterer. You want nice fresh small leaves, and they won’t taste at all bitter. It’s sometimes known as the garlic mustard plant – once you’re confident that you know what you’re looking for, try picking a leaf and tasting to see if you like it!
I was walking back from Hidcote to Chipping Campden today along the ‘Heart of England Way’ and found absolutely masses of the stuff – it’s obviously prime time for picking (up in the Cotswolds anyway – might have been out a little longer down in warmer places!), and they made a delicious addition to our pizza tonight, added a few minutes before they came out of the oven. It went very well with the left-over caesar salad dressing I improvised yesterday using Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic & seasoning – like a homemade Domino’s garlic dip! Just can’t get enough garlic at this time of year… the wild garlic is starting to ripen too, time for some serious foraging.