New beginnings and the uniqueness of Ontario forests reveal themselves again this spring. Discover wild leeks!
The earth and sun have fed us antioxidants through the maple trees’ sap and now, in early spring, comes the show of wild leeks peeking through the wet, mulchy ground of the maple forest.
The “fairy ring” of green is unmistakable once you know what to look for. I call it a “fairy ring” because I find the art of wild food foraging magical. It is actually a beautiful circular star/sunburst shape of green. It has a sweet heady garlic aroma when brushed with your hiking boot. Wild leeks are found around eastern Canada and the eastern States.
Fun fact: This plant, called shikaakwa (chicagou) by native tribes near Lake Michigan, is the namesake of the city of Chicago! Also called ramp, wood leek, wild garlic, spring onion and ramson, they are onion-like plants in the allium family.
Wild leeks have a distinctively delicate and sweet-garlic-onion aroma and flavour. If you are lucky enough to find some, make sure to only remove a couple of individual wild leeks from each growing clump to ensure long-term propagation for your found stash. Gently rinse and prepare wild leek just a few hours before eating and cook them lightly as a substitute for any leek, garlic, onion or shallot-inclusive dish.