The Jack by the Hedge or Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the hedge, is a common early Spring herb found in hedges and woods, smelling mildly of garlic. It is also common in towns and cities and seems to find a place to root most everywhere. It has long been used as a flavouring in sauces for fish and lamb (I make an amazing mint sauce with Jack by the Hedge!) and as an ingredient for spring salads.

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Jack-by-the-hedge is a biennial (two year lifecycle) and it has crinkly, kidney shaped green leaves which smell of garlic if lightly rubbed or crushed. The plant stands upright and can grow up to 70cm in height, the colour of the soft nettle-shaped leaves is a deep green and they appear balanced in colour. The leaves can be picked from September, when they first begin to show, until late spring, when the white flowers appear. The plants Leaves, Flowers and Seed Pods can all be eaten. The flowers are available from April to June, the seeds shortly after.

So what else can you do with them.. The leaves make ideal sandwich fillers and if they are finely chopped and mixed with a little olive oil and seasoning, they make a refreshing and delicate salad dressing. The flowers have a bold flavour and can also be added to salads or used as a beautiful garnish or even to flavour oils. The seed pods are best eaten in the field (they are a tasty and nutritious snack) the perfect Wild Food Foragers convenience food.

Make sure that you don't mistake them for Nettles!!
I will be gathering this wild herb myself over the coming weeks so stay posted, link to us or subscribe to my RSS feed and I'll tell you even more tasty ways to use Jack by the Hedge including; Garlic Mustard Pesto, Jack by the Hedge Kiev and an amazing sauce for lamb!

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