Forage now: Three cornered leeks

Their season is short and their season is now. Three cornered leeks, also known as wild onions – Allium triquetrum – are considered noxious weeds in the UK but fortunately are also a delicious, garlicy wild treat. The three cornered leek only hangs about for around for the beginning of spring (4-6 weeks) so it’s important to get out there and find what you’re looking for as soon as the first shoots have shot, but there are also methods that allow us to keep on enjoying these tasty morsels throughout the rest of the year.

Some people preserve the leek by making pesto, some ferment the them whole, bottling them in a jar of salt brine and letting the lactobacillus bacteria do their work. Some prefer just to feast on these delicate little alliums while the season lasts and see them again the following year. The leaves are interchangeable with chives and add a great, vivid green splash of colour to a dish.

We’re going to ferment ours for a briny side garnish or simple starter dish, which will be another post, but for now, here’s a bit more about identifying the three cornered leek (stolen directly from another website):    

Common Name — Snowbell
Latin Name — Allium triquetrum
Habitat — Hedgerows, verges, woodland edges, field edges, waste ground and peoples flower beds.
Leaves — Long, thin and green which if looked at in profile is a very shallow 'V' shape.
Flowers — Hanging in clusters very much like a white bluebells with six petals and flowers from April to June.
Stem — The flower stem is like the leaves but more triangular in profile than the leaves, hence the common name, Three Cornered Leek.
Roots — When young a bit like spring onion or baby leeks, when more mature the root can resemble an onion.
Smell — Garlic/oniony.
Taste — A bit like spring onion or baby leeks.
Collecting — All of the plant is edible. The young plants can be uprooted when found in profusion and treated as baby leeks or spring onion, the leaves and flowers can be used in salads or the leaves in soups or stews, the more mature onion like roots can be used as onion or garlic.
Possible Confusion — Bluebells, young daffodills or some lilies but none of these smell of garlic/onion.
Description — An invasive species brought over to the UK from the Mediterranean, it is an offence under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales to plant or otherwise cause to grow this species in the wild.

Keep an eye out as we’ll be posting some recipes using the 3 cornered leek in the very near future.

Here are a couple more photos that will help you identify the plant.

Three Cornered Leek foraging

Three cornered leek foraging photo 2

Three cornered leek foraging 3