There are quite a number of plants I greet with enthusiasm during spring, and one of my favourites would have to be Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata) with its delightful garlic fragrance and flavour. Found growing all over the place near here, it seems to like semi shaded areas, near hedgerows, walls, the roots of trees and places like that.
I’ve enjoyed the odd leaf from the herb from time to time, but never done much with it in the kitchen, and have decided that this year, that is going to have to change. This delightfully bright green plant deserves to have a lot more fuss made of it! I’m planning a batch of nettle and jack by the hedge soup in the near future, plus I have a recipe for jack by the hedge pesto that I am rather excited about trying – when I get around to having a go at these two, I’ll post the recipes, promise! Today, though, I decided to make a herbal vinegar with the fresh plant.
Infused vinegars are ridiculously easy to make, which is good because my brain has not been functioning on full capacity today, so easy is preferred. Simply chop hell out of the herb, toss into a jar and top up with the vinegar of your choice. I used the tail end of a bottle of white wine vinegar this time. Next time I may use balsamic, just for a change – I have the feeling the flavour would work very well with the garlicky kick of chopped Jack. (I am too lazy to want to type out Jack by the Hedge every time I refer to the plant, so from now on its going to just be called Jack – sorry about that!) I’m going to leave this particular jar infusing in the cupboard for a couple of weeks, then filter it and use it to make awe inspiring salad dressings. I’m pretty sure this herb will work very nicely with new potatoes and butter, as well.
Now I’m off to make a pasta salad with loads of chopped Jack in. 😉