Every year on Earth Day I do a ritual weeding of our back yard garden and pick whatever garlic mustard I can find. We've been thinning out the garlic mustard every year for years and so it's mostly in check but it's always worth pulling a few more plants.
Aside from putting the garlic mustard in the municipal compost – not your own compost – there's always a temptation to eat at least some of what gets pulled. The challenge is making sure that you cook the garlic mustard so that the yucky compounds that make it indigestable get cooked out. Even though the leaves are so tender that you don't really need to cook them very much, it's recommended to cook garlic mustard in two changes of water to leach out the bad parts.
The Three Foragers have a recipe for "Garlic Mustard Roulade" which looks mighty fancy, but they also have good suggestions for handling this spring green. As they note, "Garlic mustard might not be for everyone, but it is nutritious, highly invasive and easily gathered in quantity."
Note to self: the first big garlic mustard pull of the season is in the planter in front of Caribou Coffee on Packard and Stadium, so that the flowers don't get totally choked out and so that spot doesn't seed the whole neighborhood.
Garlic mustard is an exotic invasive plant from Europe that invades woodland habitats in North America and impacts forest biodiversity. In some woodlands, dense stands of garlic mustard in the spring threaten showy spring blooming ephemerals like spring beauty, trilliums and trout lilies. Other research points toward potentially negative impacts on timber species and forest health. Many land managers consider it to be one of the most potentially harmful and difficult to control invasive plants in the region.
It’s time to pull garlic mustard again, which is a sure sign of spring. Our yard has a little bit, not too bad, and certainly not as bad as it was a few years ago before we realized just what we had that was growing so vigorously.
Last year at this time I recounted a tale of where to go for a walk in the woods, and the story of the celebration of the garlic mustard recipe of the year. (in summary, bleah.) As a reminder:
So I made it and tasted it. Not particularly good, and I’m still dealing with the tummy ache. Perhaps someone else has a better recipe, or I picked it too late in the season, or it really just doesn’t taste that good? I will admit to not adding the vinegar (or, as Allen Bailey suggested, lemon juice) which might have been the problem. Next time, I’ll also cook the greens in a change or two of water first, which should also draw off some of the bitterness.
If you have an awesome garlic mustard recipe – or, if you know a source for a supply of pygmy goats that will eat the stuff – pls. note in the comments.