Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive plant, brought to America in the 1860’s as a culinary herb. It spreads like wildfire and often will displace native mustards and cresses. Many parks hold days where people can come volunteer to pull out garlic mustard so it doesn’t take over other native plants. This is one weed no one will mind you pulling!
Now is a great time to use garlic mustard: the leaves are tasty and not too bitter, as the weather warms the leaves get more bitter and lose their spicy garlic mustard flavor.
To make the condiment, harvest the entire plant, and wash the roots well. The roots are white and have a horseradish-like smell. They will taste spicy.
I chopped the roots:
I blended the roots in a food processor with a bit of salt, a couple teaspoons of water and about 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and blended until it looked like horseradish: (It stung my eyes! Pretty spicy…)
Here it is, in a jar:
According to Chinese Medicine, the spicy or pungent taste of horseradish and garlic mustard enters the Lung meridian, and is known to clear the sinuses and help the body get rid of respiratory infections. (For more on Traditional Chinese Medicine and health, visit our sister website Birch Center for Health.)
Here in Pittsburgh, wild edibles are just emerging from the ground. Today we also found nettles! What is popping up where you live? We’d love to hear from you!
Melissa Sokulski, acupuncturist, herbalist
Food Under Foot