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Wild garlic picking 2024

Spring has well and truly sprung, and here at Franco Manca that can only mean one thing… it’s wild garlic time! We are pretty obsessed with it, and we use the fragrant leaves to create our delicious wild garlic pesto dip.

This beautiful plant can be found growing in ancient woodlands across the UK during the months of April and May. According to the Wildlife Trusts, you can identify it by looking for ‘rounded clusters of star-like, white flowers borne on straight green stems. Its leaves are grey-green, oval and narrow, and grow around the base of the stem.’ And of course a strong garlic smell is another giveaway!

On Thursday 18th April, the sun was shining and the vibes were strong as our pizzaioli team headed off to Dorset for our annual picking pilgrimage at Milton Abbey School. We have a long standing relationship with the school, and they invite us every year to assist with the picking of the crop on their private land. Importantly, our team is taught how to pick the leaves in a way that ensures they will regrow and thrive as they do year on year.

We also ran a cookery masterclass for students from the school’s 4th form and 6th form classes, teaching them how to make sourdough pizza the Franco Manca way, with a focus on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Lots of fun, lots of pizza – all in a day’s work!

To keep our environmental impact to a minimum, we travelled there in a carbon neutral coach and collected the leaves in bags made from corn starch, which are compostable, biodegradable and non-toxic.

The hand-picked leaves are quickly delivered to the Franco Manca development kitchen to be carefully washed and made into fresh wild garlic pesto. We use a simple recipe, blending the fresh leaves with olive oil, Franco’s grana and roasted almonds, then seasoning with salt. If you’re a garlic lover, this dip is simply heaven. It’s the perfect pairing to any pizza.

Find our delicious dip in Franco Manca pizzerias from May 11th for a limited time only!

For tips on how to forage wild garlic safely and sustainably, the Woodland Trust is a great source of info.

Still hungry? Go for seconds.

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