“Garlic mustard is an invasive non-native biennial herb that spreads by seed. Although edible for people, it is not eaten by local wildlife or insects. It is difficult to control once it has reached a site; it can cross-pollinate or self-pollinate, it has a high seed production rate, it out competes native vegetation and it can establish in a relatively stable forest understory. It can grow in dense shade or sunny sites. The fact that it is self fertile means that one plant can occupy a site and produce a seed bank. Plant stands can produce more than 62,000 seeds per square meter to quickly out compete local flora, changing the structure of plant communities on the forest floor. Garlic mustard is also allelopathic, producing chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants and mychorrizal fungi needed for healthy tree growth and tree seedling survival.” –www.kingcounty.gov
Notice the petals on the flowered plant. 4 cross petals are a great indicator the plant you are looking at is a mustard. If it also has 4 sepals and 6 stamen (4 tall and 2 short), you have a mustard of some sort. Mustard is a huge family and there are hundreds of varieties. All are edible though some not all that palatable. A sure fire way of identifying Garlic Mustard is to look at the leaves. Are they roundish kidney shaped with teeth?
If yes, pick a leaf and crush it in your fingers and smell. If it smells like garlic, you’re on the right track. Being a biannual, Garlic Mustard flowers the second year. It is high in Vitamin C, carotenoids and minerals, and it has remarkably high levels of fiber. So there is a good reason to enjoy it. In young leaves there is some cyanide so try not to eat a bale of raw young greens. There is cyanide in a lot of plants that you eat, so don’t be overly alarmed here. Research Garlic Mustard for yourself so that you know what you are eating. To eliminate cyanide amounts, cook it before eating. Just to ease your fears, Lima Beans and Apple Seeds also have cyanide in them, as well as other vegetables you buy at the grocery store. I love spinach dip and it was the inspiration for this recipe that is really good. I didn’t really measure anything, so the amounts are up to you. I boiled a couple good hand fulls of fresh spring Mustard Greens. Maybe about a quarter cup of cooked greens. Chop the cooked greens up and add to a couple table spoons of cream cheese. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. I put in a shake of onion powder and garlic powder to kick it up a bit. Add a dash of lemon juice and mix it together. It was awesome on toast. Pretty sure it would be good on anything you would use Spinach Dip for. You know, I could have bought some spinach and made “tried and true” spinach dip but, Garlic Mustard is free, nutritious, delicious, abundant and harmful to native species. Garlic Mustard is invading, so why not eat it?
UPDATE: Using Hairy Bitter Cress in this recipe is outstanding!!!!!!