Throughout winter and spring in Victoria, chances are you’ll come across loads of wild onion grass. It crops up almost everywhere, and is a brilliant wild edible for beginning foragers as it’s so easy to identify and so versatile. Here’s all you need to know about safely identifying and using it.
One thing we like to do with wild onion grass is to create pickles with the unopened flower buds. You could do this with a standard pickling vinegar, but we like the added tang that is created when you lactoferment them. If you’re new to fermenting, there’s some more info on the basics here.
- Wild onion grass – unopened flower buds
- Salt (see notes below)
- Wash buds. Shake dry.
- Pop them in a clean jar.
- Make a 2-3% brine solution and let it cool.
- Fill jar of buds with brine solution. Seal loosely.
- Leave at room temperature for a few days – with a daily shake & ‘burp’ of the jar – until brine goes cloudy, bubbles form throughout, and it smells rich and flavoursome.
- Once you like the taste of the fermented buds, seal the jar tightly and store in the fridge.
We use these in salads, on sandwiches, through pasta, and as a tasty mild pickled onion addition to ploughman’s platters. Such a great way to use up a free and abundant wild food, effectively catching and storing the sun’s energy for enjoyment throughout the whole year.
- To make a 2-3% brine solution, dissolve 1tbsp of pure salt in 500ml water. Use spring or rain water if you can get it, otherwise boiled water will do the trick. Always cool your solution before adding to other ingredients, otherwise the heat will kill off the good bacteria needed to kick start fermentation.
- Pure salt is salt that has no additives. Lake, sea, kosher, ‘pickling’, rock: they’re all pure. When measuring by volume rather than weight, make sure to use granulated salt though, otherwise the ratios will be off.
- For fermenting, jars don’t need to be sterilised, as the salt will kill off most bad bacteria. Just give your jar a good wash with hot soapy water and rinse well.
- Fermentation will take longer in cooler weather, so don’t fret if it takes a week or more for bubbles to form. You could leave this fermenting for up to a month (and very possibly more), so don’t worry about leaving it ‘too long’.
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.