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Thread: Bear's Garlic - A Plant You May Want In Your Spring Salad

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    Bear's Garlic - A Plant You May Want In Your Spring Salad



    Europeans have been using bear's garlic as an indigenous nutritional plant for many centuries. Throughout countless generations our central European organisms have acquired a recollection pattern for this plant, just as the organism of an Asian is "calibrated" for the enjoyment of garlic. The name "Bear's garlic" goes back to the Teutons. They observed that in spring the brown bears - which at that time still roamed our forests - consumed the wild vegetables by the ton and in this way literally obtained "bear-like strength". No wonder that our forefathers imitated the bears and incorporated the leek plant in their meals. There is also another theory, however, that our ancestors processed the meat of bears with leek so the name "Bear's garlic" goes back to the "bear ham“ of the Proto-Germans. In monastic medicine in the Middle Ages bear's garlic gained in significance but gradually sank into oblivion again with the rise of alchemy and iatrochemistry. The romanticism of the 19th century finally brought a return to the forces of nature with its "inexplicable, mystic healing powers ". [Read more here]


    Bear's Garlic is also known as Wild Garlic or Ramsons. The name came from a common belief that bears, after awakening from hibernation, first feed on bear's garlic to clean out their digestive tract and to get there strength back after the long winter. Some people use Bear's garlic religiously as a depurative healing three weeks every spring as an effective colon cleaner.
    Bear's Garlic has been traditionally used for the treatment of heart disease, high cholesterol, fatty deposits, arteriosclerosis, infection's of the eyes, ears, throat, respiratory infections, coughs, hoarseness, colds & flu along with a variety of illnesses. Bear's garlic has properties close to common garlic, it relieves stomach pains, facilitates digestion, it is used to heal diarrheas, colics, constipation and stimulate appetite. In general, it can be used like garlic. Bear's Garlic stops bacterial growth in wounds, in yeasts and fungi in the digestive tract, it deodorizes and eliminates bad breath & body odor, it removes drug deposits, it counteracts all toxins, it halts tooth decay & gum infection, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, a blood cleanser for the circulatory system, an astringent, an antioxidant, an expectorant, an enzyme activant, it promotes good liver and intestinal function, it lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and acts as a vasodilator, allowing for better blood flow (circulation). Bears Garlic helps alleviate some forms of Anemia, helps with lung diseases such as Bronchitis, Tuberculosis and Pleurisy, skin problems such as boils and pustules, it helps kill many parasites, has anti-tumor properties, and assists in subduing Candida Albicans (a common body fungus) (Yeast Infections).

    Bear's garlic distinguishes itself by means of its especially high sulphur content. As an important element in the formation of enzymes, sulphur contributes to the natural cleansing of the body. Special sulphur compounds foster a healthy intestinal flora and help the body in the natural elimination of heavy metals, pesticides and residues from medicines. Wild Bear's Garlic has higher levels of ajoenes, adenosine, iron, and ACE-Inhibitory potential. In fact, it has the highest natural sulfur and adenosine levels found anywhere in the plant kingdom! Bear's has 20 times more Adenosine than regular garlic and Adenosine is a key component in the regulation of hypertension and tachycardia.

    Bears' garlic is wonderful chopped into spring salads, or used like sorrel or leeks in soups and quiche. Its succulent leaves are not at all fibrous and melt down in volume when cooked, becoming very mild in flavor. Known as "ramps" in Appalachia, the plant is almost as sought-after as spring morels for its delicious taste and reputed spring tonic qualities. Indeed, it is rich in Vitamins A and C as well as in minerals.
    [Source]


    Edible Uses
    Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.
    Leaves – raw or cooked. Usually available from late January. One report says that they have an overpowering garlic odour that dissipates on cooking, though our experience is that they are considerably milder than garlic. The leaves make a very nice addition to salads, and are especially welcome as a vital and fresh green leaf in the middle of winter or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. Flowers – raw or cooked. These are somewhat stronger than the leaves, in small quantities they make a decorative and very tasty addition to salads[K]. The flowering heads can still be eaten as the seed pods are forming, though the flavour gets even stronger as the seeds ripen. Bulb – raw or cooked. A fairly strong garlic flavour, though it is quite small and fiddly to harvest. The bulbs can be harvested at any time the plant is dormant from early summer to early winter. Harvested in early summer, they will store for at least 6 months. The bulbs can be up to 4cm long and 1cm in diameter. The small green bulbils are used as a caper substitute.

    The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. The bulbs and flowers are also very tasty.

    Allium ursinum leaves are also used as fodder. Cows that have fed on ramsons give milk that tastes slightly of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th century Switzerland.

    The first evidence of the human use of Allium ursinum comes from the mesolithic settlement of Barkaer (Denmark) where an impression of a leaf has been found. In the Swiss neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier (Cortaillod culture) there is a high concentration of ramsons pollen in the settlement layer, interpreted by some as evidence for the use of ramsons as fodder.
    [Read more here]

    Ramsons grows only in shady and damp woods. Its pungent garlic odour that has given it the name of Wild Garlic, is smelled long before the plants are sighted and prevents them from being mistaken for the Lilly-of-the-Valley or the Meadow Saffron (Colchi-cum autumnale). In early Spring, many damp woods are densely carpeted with the fresh green leaves of Ramsons. They start to grow in April and May, sometimes earlier, the flowers from May to June. Powerful medicinal properties lie within Ramsons and it is related, that bears, after hibernation, seek it out to cleanse their system. Ramsons has similar medicinal properties to those of the Garlic, only greater. It is therefore especially valuable for a "spring" course of treatment to cleanse the system and to aid recovery from chronic skin disorders. Since the leaves, when dried, loose their medicinal properties, they are used fresh for a spring cleaning and waste removal course of treatment. They are finely chopped and laid on buttered bread, used uncooked as a seasoning in the daily soup and added to potatoes, dumplings and other foods, where normally Parsley is used.The leaves can also be prepared like spinach or salad. Since they have a biting taste when used in large amounts, they should be mixed with Stinging Nettle leaves when prepared as a spinach dish. The young leaves are gathered in April and May before the time of flowering, the bulbs in late summer and autumn. These bulbs can be used the same way as garlic. People who have a sensitive stomach should pour warm milk over the finely chopped leaves and bulbs, infuse them for two to three hours and sip this liquid. To have the Ramsons' medicinal properties at home throughout the year, a Ramsons spirit is prepared (see "directions"). 10 to 12 drops of this are taken in water daily. These drops help to attain an excellent memory, prevent arteriosclerosis and dispel many other complaints. Ramsons is beneficial for the stomach and intestines. It is most suitable for acute and chronic diarrhoea even when this is associated with flatulence and colic, as well as for constipation when this is caused by inactivity or sluggishness of the intestines. Worms, even maw-worms are expelled some time after eating Ramsons. Those complaints which occur in elderly or over-indulgent people, through sluggish or over-filled intestines, vanish with the improved intestinal activity. Heart complaint and sleeplessness arising from stomach trouble and those complaints, caused by arteriosclerosis or high blood pressure, as well as dizziness, pressure in the head and anxiety, diminish. The pressure decreases gradually. Ramsons' wine (see "directions") is a wonderful remedy for all old people with persisting phlegm in the chest and the connected shortness of breath. This remedy is also recommended for consumption and dropsy, from which old people often suffer. Leaves, used fresh, cleanse kidneys and bladder and increase the flow of urine. Badly healing wounds, brushed with the fresh juice, heal quickly. Even disorders of the coronary blood vessels can be relieved. Ramsons, that has proved itself as a blood-cleanser for skin disorders, is not valued highly enough. The Swiss herbalist, Abbe Kuenzle especially praises the plant: "It cleanses the whole body, rids it of stubborn waste matters, produces healthy blood and destroys and removes poisonous substances. Continually sickly people, as those with herpes and eczema, pale looks, scrofula and rheumatism, should venerate Ramsons like gold. No herb on this earth is as effective for cleansing the stomach, intestines and blood. Young people would burst into bloom like the roses on a trellis and sprout like fircones in the sun." Kuenzle states further he knew families that, previously sickly, seeking remedy the whole year, covered in rashes, herpes, scrofula and pale faced, as if they had lain in the grave and been scratched out by the hens, became completely healthy and refreshed after long applications of this wonderful gift of God.

    Seasoning: Fresh leaves, finely chopped like chives or parsley, are sprinkled on bread, in soups, sauces, salads and meat dishes.
    [Read more here]


    Bear's garlic, growing wild in fens and river woods of Central Europe, is much used in local cuisines, but since it cannot be cultivated it has not gained global importance in cooking. In spring, the leaves are collected and used raw to flavour spreads based on cottage cheese, soups and sauces. Dried leaves usually exhibit a very faint odour and should be used in liberal amounts. They are better preserved by preparing a pesto-like sauce or simply by freezing.

    In Germany and other parts of Central Europe, bear's garlic has increased significantly in popularity during the past few years. While bear's garlic was formerly known only to a few, today hardly any haute cuisine chefs will miss the opportunity to create new recipes using the herb during the short season.

    Bear's garlic should not be boiled or simmered at all, but used raw with the fresh leaves being mixed with the hot food and eaten immediately. Otherwise, most of the characteristic flavour is wasted and the aroma perfumes the kitchen but not the food.

    Since bear's garlic has become so popular, many people have tried to collect the plant in the wild, resulting in several cases of poisoning amongst those confusing the leaves with the highly poisonous convallaria majus "lily of the valley" and even more toxic colchicum autumnale "autumn crocus" or "meadow saffron".

    [Read more]

    Last edited by Víđálfr; Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 at 11:01 PM. Reason: adding more photos and one more source
    Die Farben duften frisch und grün... Lieblich haucht der Wind um mich.

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