Garlic Mustard Stir Fry

Mar 23 / Dawn Lacska-Tommerdahl, RN
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolate) is an underrated weed that has become invasive because people don’t use it as a spring food like they used to when it was brought to this country in the mid-1800s.

Garlic Mustard is an early spring green that pops up on roadsides in upland forests, or on the edge of forests; it gets this name because when the leaves are crushed it smells like garlic and the young leaves have a mild garlic flavor. Some of the other names that it is known by are Poor Man’s Mustard, Hedge Garlic, Garlic Root, and Jack-by-the-Hedge. It was introduced from Europe in the mid-1800s in New York to be used as a food source.

Garlic Mustard is a biennial plant that in its first year produces a tight rosette of heart-shaped leaves that are slightly toothed. In its second year, it grows 1-4 feet tall, has larger heart-shaped leaves at the base. The leaves grow alternatingly up the stem and grow more triangular and serrated in nature. The flowers are typical of those in the mustard family, small and four-petaled in a cross shape, the plant spreads by seeds.

It is considered an invasive plant in most states where it thrives, it is usually managed by hand pulling for several years in a row or with herbicide use. This is a perfect plant to wildcraft and eat because you will not only get a highly nutritious meal you will also be helping to reduce its spread and help native understory plants survive in its place.

When harvesting, pick only the young leaves which have a mild garlic/onion flavor when lightly sauteed. I add it to stir fry, quiches, chili, and anything where I want to add an extra burst of nutrition and garlic flavor. I have also taken leaves and frozen them in ice cube trays with some water to make sure I have a fresh supply of them through the year.

It has been used medicinally to clear phlegm and dampness. As with all early spring greens, start slowly with adding it to your diet because it may cause mild diarrhea as the body cleans out winter stagnation and mucus.

Garlic Mustard Stir Fry

  • 2 cups Garlic Mustard
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup sliced meat of choice (optional)
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Garlic powder, black pepper, Ginger paste, or powder to taste

  1. Dice vegetables.
  2. Add oil, spices, soy sauce, and vinegar to the pan and turn to medium-high.
  3. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until spices and liquids are combined and warm.
  4. Add meat (if desired) and onions and simmer until meat is almost done.
  5. When meat is almost done, add vegetables and simmer until garlic mustard is wilted (about 3-4 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat and serve over rice or riced cauliflower.
As always make sure to forage for plants away from roads and pollution as much as possible. Never overharvest any plant, as they are of course not only here for our enjoyment, but also here for the insects, bees, and birds. Have fun out there!
The information provided in this digital content is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. Matthew Wood, the Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism, ETS Productions, and their employees, guests, and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.