Ever since I was little, I’ve always felt a kinship to nature. I grew up going to northern Wisconsin multiple times a year to see my grandparents who retired there. All around their home was 15 acres of lakefront nature. No air pollution. No water pollution. No light pollution. All of the animals. All of the stars at night. All of the wild plants. In fact, wild blackberries still grow on that property to this day.
Within the past few weeks, I’ve seen so many posts about wild foraging here in Illinois. Supposedly ramps, wild garlic, and other things are naturally growing in this area. I never really thought about doing nature-oriented stuff around here because Wisconsin is my sanctuary. There’s so few people and industrialization there, that I know the cheese state is a great place to forage. Yet, I wanted to learn more about the wild edibles right here in my own backyard.
When I reached the woods, I was skeptical. Was I going to find anything worthy? Was I going to mistake a poisonous plant for an edible one? Was I going to get ticks or poison ivy? Okay, that’s just my anxiety talking.
Myself and my foraging partner/best friend went off the beaten path not far off the entrance. And there, beyond a tree branch, was a huge patch of wild garlic. There was a good 100 feet of nonstop wild garlic. We got out our reusable foraging bags, which you can find here, and started pulling.
There is a foraging rule that you should only take 10% of what you find, so that others can also come and forage themselves. That’s exactly what we did. When we came upon a patch, we would take a few and move on. When we moved on, we would come across another patch, take a few, and move on.
The feelings that I had while foraging were nostalgic. I grew up picking my own strawberries, blackberries, apples, or wild chive in Wisconsin. I was reminded of my grandparents, who taught me to be one with nature and live off the land as much as possible. I started thinking that maybe our current way of life is not the best, or most sustainable. The earth provides us our food without the need to factory farm, and people should reconnect to where their food actually comes from. Suddenly people might care more about what is going into their bodies.
All in all, I picked enough wild garlic for myself, my mom, and my mother in law. I took the plants home, washed them thoroughly, and placed them in cold water like flowers. And the next day, I made onion dip with foraged wild garlic. And because I like to deliver, below is the recipe for Onion and Wild Garlic Dip.
Onion and Foraged Garlic Dip
- 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped finely
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6-8 bulbs wild garlic, light and green parts, ends trimmed and chopped finely
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 3/4 cup Cage-Free mayo
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- Begin with chopping your onion. Add to a large skillet and sauté on medium low heat in the olive oil for about 45 minutes, until caramelized and sweet. Stir frequently to ensure the onions don't take on too much color.
- After 45 minutes and once caramelized, add your wild garlic and regular garlic. Stir together for another 5 minutes over low heat.
- Off the heat, add cream cheese. Allow to soften from the residual heat of the pan and stir together completely with the onions. This way, if you forget to pull the cream cheese out to soften, it will not matter. Put cream cheese and onion mixture into a medium mixing bowl.
- Add mayo and sour cream. Stir together completely to combine. Add balsamic. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as wanted.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-24 hours before serving with kettle chips.