When surviving out in the wild, or forced to forage for food in nature when closer to home, knowing how to identify edible and nutritious plants is paramount.
This is important so that you can actually obtain the calories, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs but also to avoid accidentally eating dangerous plants.
One such plant that you will hear talked about regularly is wild garlic. Can you eat wild garlic in a survival situation?
Yes, wild garlic is safe to eat, and all of its parts are edible. Wild garlic can impart significant flavor to a dish and provides you with needed vitamins and minerals.
Wild garlic is a darling not just among outdoorsmen and preppers but also cooks thanks to its mild, but nuanced, delicious flavor.
As you might expect, wild garlic is used much the same as you would any other garlic, but because it is so much milder than the usual store-bought stuff it is easier to eat as is when you are in a crisis.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about eating wild garlic.
Where is Wild Garlic Found?
Wild garlic can be found in the northern hemisphere, particularly throughout Europe and also a few parts of the United States where it was naturalized by European immigrants.
In the United States, it can be found throughout Ohio and some parts of New England along with the Pacific Northwest.
Throughout its range, anywhere you find damp, dense woodlands you can find wild garlic as it thrives in these locations.
In fact, it is so emblematic of these biomes that in many regions it can be found growing in a literal carpet over the forest floor, meaning you could be looking at quite a harvest of wild garlic depending on where you are!
Nutritional Facts about Wild Garlic
Compared to the usual products that we buy in the grocery store, accurate nutritional info for wild garlic is lacking, but we can extrapolate most of its nutritional content based on what we know about other related plants.
Though it contains relatively few calories by weight, wild garlic does have an excellent spread of vitamins and minerals meaning it can serve as a terrific supplement to your diet.
Wild garlic is rich in most of the B complex vitamins, with B6 being a particular standout along with B1, B5, B2, B3, and folate.
Choline and vitamin C are also present, with the latter being particularly abundant.
The mineral content is similarly impressive, with tons of manganese and phosphorus along with a great amount of calcium and iron.
Lesser amounts of potassium, zinc, and magnesium are also present along with just a little bit of selenium.
It is possible to make a filling meal out of nothing but wild garlic, assuming you can get past the pungent flavor, but its real value is as an all-natural multivitamin that can help to round out other foods you have gathered or hunted.
What Does Wild Garlic Taste Like?
Wild garlic, as the name might suggest, tastes very much like the garlic you are used to only it is far milder and less offensive though it still has plenty of flavors when eaten raw, if you know what I mean!
Many people who have tried it for the first time say it tastes somewhere between a cross of garlic and onions, or garlic and leeks or chives.
This flavor profile does vary somewhat depending on where the garlic is growing, however.
Wild garlic can be safely eaten raw, and it can also be cooked and used in a variety of other preparations the same way that you would use grocery store-purchased garlic, making it a highly versatile find when in the wild.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Raw?
Yes. Wild garlic is completely safe to eat raw. Cooking does enhance the flavor, though, so if you have time you should do that unless you really like the taste of raw garlic.
Cooking also helps to eliminate harmful bacteria that might be on the plant, bacteria that could make you sick.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Cooked?
Yes. Cooking wild garlic is a great way to eat it either by itself or as an ingredient in another dish.
Gentle cooking only slightly reduces the nutritional content of wild garlic, but does make it safer to eat by killing off germs that might be on or in the plant.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Leaves?
Yes. The leaves of wild garlic, like all parts of the plant, are completely safe to eat raw or cooked. Many people like to use them as a garnish or component of a salad.
The leaves of the plant have a similarly good nutritional profile to the bulb, which is the real prize.
However, as with all other parts of the plant it benefits from cooking to both improve taste and to kill off any germs that might be hiding on it.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Flowers?
Yes. The flowers of the wild garlic plant are edible and usually incorporated into a salad when the whole plant is harvested.
Compared to the rest of the plant, they are not particularly nutritious but definitely worth eating if you are scrounging for every calorie you can get.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Skin?
Yes. You shouldn’t hesitate to peel away a tough outer layer on the bulb of the plant if it is not palatable, but wild garlic does not have the flaky, papery skin of grocery store-purchased varieties.
Can You Eat Wild Garlic Stems and Roots?
Yes. The stems and roots of wild garlic are completely safe to eat as with all other parts of the plant.
Are There Risks Associated with Eating Wild Garlic?
There are no major risks associated with the consumption of wild garlic itself.
One thing to be aware of is that some people show a marked sensitivity to the compounds in wild garlic that are responsible for its fragrance and taste.
These compounds can cause anything from mild irritation on contact to a profound allergic reaction.
Although rare, these can be significant enough to pose serious health complications or even become life-threatening, and doubly so under the circumstances when you might already be in a bad situation.
to manage this potentially unhappy outcome, try to sample wild garlic ahead of time before you are really in dire straits.
If you have any doubts whatsoever crush a little bit of the plant and rub it on the inside of your wrist or elbow and wait for a reaction, then do the same thing on your lips and just the tip of your tongue.
Wait a while to see if you notice any reaction before eating it assuming it is all clear.
Also, eating wild garlic, like any raw plant or produce, means that you might ingest harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Although rarely a major cause of concern in normal times, once again this could be life-threatening if you’re already in the middle of a survival situation.
Diarrhea, vomiting, and crushing nausea are going to severely dehydrate you and also make your job a whole lot harder.
You can eat wild garlic raw, but you should always wash it if you are able, and cooking it is best for safety.
Caution: Wild Garlic Has Several Dangerous Lookalikes
Lastly, it must be pointed out that you should never eat any wild plant that you have not 100% positively ID’d.
Wild garlic, though easy to identify, has several dangerous look-alikes: the death camas and various lilies in the United States, and snakeshead (aka Lords-and-Ladies) in the UK.
Death camas are ferociously toxic and easily capable of killing humans and animals alike when eaten even in small quantities, and snakeshead is host to a nasty blistering calcium compound.
Make it a point to become intimately familiar with the appearance and characteristics of all edible plants and their dangerous lookalike cousins before trying to eat them in the wild.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.