Garlic mustard is a wild edible that has earned the title of being invasive in many geographical areas. This is especially so in Toronto parks like Sam Smith Park. The plant can completely take over.
It's also a tasty, versatile, and nutritious vegetable. So, the obvious solution to this is for all of us to get out there and start gathering! It’s abundant and easy-to-identify, especially in May when it starts to flower. Gathering as much of it as you want actually helps, rather than hurts, the environment.
Garlic mustard greens are very nutritious as they have substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, E and some of the B vitamins. In addition this wild weed contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) has European ‘roots’ and wasintroduced to the U.S. and Canada by early settlers. This garlic-flavored plant was widely used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Check out the health benefits from eating this amazing wild edible:
- Excellent for controlling weight
- Improves the health of your heart
- Lowers cholesterol
- Thins the blood
- May help prevent cancer
- Strengthens the immune system
The flowers do not usually appear until late May. This year, because of all the spring rain, garlic mustard is everywhere! Leaves in any season can be eaten but once the weather gets a bit hot they might taste somewhat bitter. The flavor overall is garlicky with a bit of a mustard bite. You know for sure it is garlic mustard when you detect the scent of garlic when crushing a leaf.
Here are some creative ideas to use this nutritious plant:
- Toss some into a batch of mashed potatoes
- Put some in any salad you enjoy
- Add to stews or soups (beans, potatoes onion, carrots, chicken broth etc.)
- Saute with pasta, onions etc.