Hedge Garlic

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

hedge garlic also known as Jack-by-the-hedge, Alliaria petiolata, an upstanding plant of European hedgerows, also known as garlic mustard. The leaves do smell slightly of garlic if chopped or bruised. Grigson (1955) gives a characteristically fine description:

In a brilliant sunshine, in May, one is always freshly struck by platoons of this familiar plant, at starched attention, the starch-white flowers above the new green leaves and against the green bank.

Some of the local names show that kitchen use of the leaves has a long history. Turner (1538) mentions it with the name ‘sauce alone’, since it was used by country people as a condiment, especially in the spring. Gerard (1633) observed that some people ate it, pounded, as a sauce for salt fish, in the same way that they would use ramsons (see wild garlic). In the 19th century it was recommended as a boiled accompaniment to boiled mutton or as an addition to salads.