Garlic Mustard: A Wild Food Gem

Why You Should Forage

and Eat Garlic Mustard…

Alliaria petiolata


Garlic mustard is a biennial member of the mustard family and is considered an invasive weed, but a tasty one. As its name indicates, it has a garlicky flavor. It has low growing, kidney-shaped leaves that appear in early spring. But, by mid-spring, a taller flower stalk shoots up and bears white flowers.

This history of this plant is interesting as it is a native to Europe and Africa. It was brought to the New World in 1868 and was planted in New York. Since that time it has spread across America and is considered very invasive. This plant will overtake an area if not controlled so harvesting it helps. As with all wild foods, start out eating it slowly and do not overdo it if you are not used eating this way.

Garlic mustard is high in vitamins A,C, and E. It is rich in many trace minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and  manganese.


Parts Used: Young tender leaves, stalks and roots.

Leaves: Pick the tender young leaves in early spring and use mixed in salads, made into pesto, added to soups, sautéed, simmered or in sauces.

Flowering Shoot:  Pick the shoots when the flower bud is still unopened and still in a cluster.  The stalk is mild, juicy and thicker at this stage and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Added to other foods, Garlic mustard makes an excellent seasoning.

Flowers: These may be picked and added to salads or used as a garnish.

Roots: In the fall, roots may be dug, cleaned and used like Horseradish.

TIPS: Blanch and freeze for off-season use. The leaves may also be dried for winter use in soups and stews.


Garlic Mustard Pesto Recipe

Garlic Mustard Pesto (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 4 cups garlic mustard greens
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse the garlic mustard greens in a food processor with the walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the spout.

Serve on meat, fish, pasta, or bread. Add to a sandwich for a little extra kick. Anything!





Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale

Key Elements: Digestive Tonic, Blood Cleanser, Diuretic

Dandelion-iStockphoto_1Dandelion is easily identified and is seldom confused with other plants. Surprisingly, this much hated weed offers interesting food with all parts of the plant being edible, not just the familiar greens. It can taste slightly to strongly bitter depending on when gathered. If you look closely at the flower, you will notice just how beautiful the flower really is and you may even begin to have a greater appreciation for this detested plant. It has been said that the flower of the Dandelion resembles the sun with its bright yellow, disc shape and the petals that extend out like the sun’s rays. The Dandelion is commonly used both as a wild edible and medicinal.

Parts Used for Medicine: Roots and leaves.

Medicinal Uses:
  • Bitter spring tonic for stimulating digestion, bile, liver and pancreas
  • A traditional blood purifier
  • Used for chronic constipation with long, thin, clay colored stools
  • Helps metabolize fat
  • Good for sluggish liver and gall bladder
  • Used for water retention (leaf has diuretic affect)
  • Congested kidneys
  • Urinary tract ailments
  • Muscular rheumatism (Dandelion flower infused oil) – muscle aches, tension
  • Infections in bones (especially jaw)
  • Jaundice
  • Skin
  • Folk remedy for gallstones: eat 5-6 freshly picked flowering spring stems daily for 2 weeks.
  • For warts, express milk sap from stem and wipe wart often.

Systems Supported: Liver, spleen, digestive system, kidney, bladder.

Plant Preparations: Food, Infusion, Tincture, Oil, Syrup

Minerals/Vitamins: Dandelion is a good source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Root contains inulin which balances blood sugar and stimulates healthy bowel flora. One serving of dandelion greens has as much calcium as a 1/2 cup of milk.

Herbal Actions: Alterative, Cholagogue, Diuretic, Hepatic, Mild Laxative, Nutritive, Tonic

Dandelion as a wild edible….

dandelion (2)

Whether it be the fresh or cooked tender Dandelion leaves, stir fried blossoms with garlic, Dandelion flower muffins, jelly or syrup, roasted roots, or traditional Dandelion wine, this plant offers a smorgasbord of wild edible options. Try to take advantage of the many food possibilities of this plant. There really are as many options for eating dandelions as there may be plants in your yard!


Parts Used: Young tender leaves, stalks and roots.

Harvest Times: April-May and October-November (Greens), April-Early June (Flowers), April-Early May (Crowns), April-November (Roots).

Leaves: Pick the tender young leaves in early spring before it flowers to avoid bitterness. If plant is in full sun, the leaves tend to be less desirable. Leaves often used as a spring tonic and are highly nutritious.  May be eaten raw or cooked.  In salads, mix with milder greens to alleviate the stronger flavor.  As a potherb, steam or cook for 5-10 minutes, drain water and season.

Flower Buds: In early spring, the flower bud forms a crown which grows close to the ground. Cut out this crown deep enough to hold it together, clean, peel off outer leaves, and eat raw or cooked.

Flowers and Stalks: The long tube-like stalk can be picked when they are light green in color and have young blossoms. The taste can vary from very bitter to slightly sweet. The stalks can be munched on separately raw or cooked and seasoned. The flowers may be removed, cooked and seasoned.  Also the yellow petals may be removed and used in salads, cooked with other vegetables, or made into Dandelion wine.

Roots: Young roots may be dug, cleaned, boiled or used as other root vegetables.  Roots can be dried and made into a coffee substitute.