Its now bear garlic season again. I actually missed last year, because the season flies by so quickly, lasting usually from March until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions. I went to the USA last year for three weeks right at the start of the season and by the time I returned, the season was over. So this year, I planned my trip BEFORE the season to get the full bloom of my bärlauch (beargarlic)!

As usual, I got my jars ready to put in my bärlauch pesto. but this time, I wanted to try something different. I have been experimenting of late with flaxseed oil, and pumpkin seeds, wanting to add more magnesium, vitamin B and omegas into my diet. so, I decided to add exactly that and came up with my new bärlauch (beargarlic), pumkinseed pesto!

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The first time I discovered bear garlic was about 1 year ago. I recall my friend Mimiko, who lives in Detmold, talking about this delicious garlicy-like herb. I never really knew what she was talking about until last year.

While at the market last summer, I noticed a bunch of unknown-to-me- large leaves bundled in between the parsley and the basil leaves. I asked the vendor what they were and she gave me a leaf to examine. It smelt ever-soo-slightly of garlic. The vendor told me that it what called Bärlauch (German term). So, this is what Mimiko was always talking about! I had intended right then and there to purchase a couple of bunches, when the vendor stuck the bunch into a bag and told me that this was her gift to me. She suggested that I make a pesto out of it, just as I would make basil pesto and I did just that!

Wow! is all I can really say, because this pesto was a killer- in more ways than one. The taste, I thought was amazing. It tasted like a slow-roasted garlic cream. The bunch of bärlauch that I got was one of the first picks of the season, and was incredibly intense. As I took a spoon of my first batch of pesto, I felt my throat burn as I swallowed.  This stuff was obviously rather potent and it remained on my breath for hours and hours had hours. Even the next morning I was very much reminded of the pesto’s existence.  My subsequent bärlauch pestos were just as tasty but that burning sensation I experienced initially became less and less noticeable. I am not sure if this is because as the bärlauch season progresses the bärlauch looses its intensity or because I simply got used to eating it! My guess is that this is due to the former.

Bärlauch in English is known as ramsons, wild garlic, bear’s garlic, wood garlic (?) or broad-leaved garlic and I had never heard of any of these terms before. this wild leek has been used for centuries in Europe due to its medicinal benefits.  It is packed with iron, and magnesium and due to its sulfur rich content, it is often used in alternative medicine for cleaning out the blood of toxins (heavy metals).   That would explain that astringent-burning-like sensation when I took my first spoon.

Just as with basil, bear garlic is so incredibly versatile and I have used it to in soups, spreads, risottos, breads and pasta dishes. Coming up are my recipes for the pesto and for bear garlic risotto.

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