Today I want to talk about Ramsons, in German “Bärlauchâ€. In English it is also called “bear’s garlicâ€ which I guess is a translation of the German name. It is a plant with long flat thin leaves. These days you can find them in supermarkets such as Spar in the fresh vegetable department in packaging similar to the the ones for mushrooms for example. It has garlic-like taste/smell but a bit lighter. If you are fan of going to nature in and around Vienna, these days you have the opportunity to simply pick them from ground in one of the many natural parks around Vienna.
These days that we are having such a good weather in Vienna, you can make a perfect half-day excursion and have some fun and get some fresh Bärlauch. My personal suggestion is “Lainzer Tiergartenâ€. You need to take U4 metro line till the station Hütteldorf. Over there you need to go through few streets and try to find one of the entrances to the park. The one we always use to enter the park is called “Nikolaitorâ€, I am sure you can easily find it on Google maps.
Few notes about Bärlauch:
– if you are thinking about it, you have to hurry up. Maybe around a week or 10 days will be already late. Soon there will be another plant called “Lily of the Valleyâ€ growing the same place as Bärlauch grows. “Lily of the Valleyâ€ and 2 other plants with similar appearance to Bärlauch are poisonous and can be lethal!!!! so please be careful and double check the leaves you pick before you eat them. These plants have similar leaves but all have different flowers than Bärlauch and none has this garlic-like scent. The simple test is to just squeeze one leaf and if you smell the garlic scent that’s it, you got the Bärlauch! Also the flowers are different. Before you experience any hospital emergency situation, simply google the flowers of Bärlauch on the Internet.
– Bärlauch leaves are rather delicate, you need to consume them with in a day or so. You can cook them like spinach, or even use a leaf in an afternoon sandwich to give some taste to it.
– It is advised to inspect the leaves for insects inside (!) them before you eat. There is larva of an insect that lives inside the leave between the two sides and feeds on it. The way to check it is very simple: just hold the leaf toward light and look if you see any thing strange inside or not. This little larva usually eats the leave from inside and only let a very very thin layer of the outer part of the leave to remain and that is how it dwells inside and indulges the Bärlauch!
– Bärlauch is also sold as ornamental plant since it has nice small flowers. You can find it in many florist shops these days in Vienna.
Have fun and enjoy the beautiful natural environment of Vienna
(picture: front view of a leaf of Bärlauch!)