Garlic Mustard is considered invasive in Wisconsin, as are many other plants. It also happens to be delicious to eat.
Right now as I write this, it is flowering, and it really is pretty. But…….you can easily see how it crowds out all the other plants that like to grow near hardwoods: trout lily, spring beauty, ramps, etc.
Conventional methods of controlling invasive plants include poisoning them with weed killer. The trouble with that, of course, is that other plants and critters we WANT will also be poisoned, and that poison will stay in the soil for longer than we want to admit.
Pulling and eating Garlic Mustard is a great way to give it some boundaries and force it to share the space with other spring pretties in the forest.
Usually when we forage, we want to harvest carefully so the plant can continue to grow, but that’s not a concern with Garlic Mustard so we’ll pull the whole plant up, roots and all. The roots are shallow, so it isn’t hard to pull at all, even when it is tall and flowering. I don’t want to eradicate ALL the Garlic Mustard….the whole plant is edible and delicious, after all. It is so tenacious, though, we don’t have to worry about it not coming back.
If you are pulling flowering plants, be sure to either use the flowers in your food prep, or put them in the garbage. Those flower heads will continue to mature and set seed after harvesting, so if you compost them, you’ll be spreading the plant around, opposite of what we want to do!
Once you get your bag full of Garlic Mustard plants, here are some delicious ways to prepare them.
Roots: They taste like horseradish! Put them in a blender, mix with a little vinegar and salt and use like horeradish sauce.
Leaves: Use in your salads, chop up and add to pasta, make delicious pesto.
Flowers: A pretty garnish for salads, soups or dips.