There is a delicious smell of garlic spreading in the forest floor. It is, of course, ramsons that cover the forest floor and are just waiting to be brought home to the kitchen.
At the top of Kær Halvø, sandwiched between Augustenborg Fjord and Als Sund, lies Arnkil Forest and Arnkilsøre. The area of 106 ha is owned by the Danish Nature Agency Naturstyrelsen, of which the forest stands make up 66 ha and the grassland-like plain area at the far end of Arnkilsøre approx. 30 ha. I really appreciate going for a walk in the area, as it is so varied with large beech forests, beach and coastal cliffs and open fields.
On the coastal slopes, the roots of the beech trees protrude and form nature's own playground for children and childlike souls. Since the area is state-owned, it is possible to move around the entire area, and there is free camping in the forest, which means that you can spend the night anywhere, except for enclosures, on historical monuments and on the beach.
The area also offers an exciting cultural history, as it was here that the Prussians landed during the transition to Als on 29 June 1864, which is why there are a number of memorial stones in the area.
Ramsons is of the onion family and has a characteristic garlic taste and smell. They contain lots of vitamin C, in fact 20-40 times as much as in lemons. Ramsons have elliptical, green leaves and white, star-like flowers that sit in small umbels. The leaves have a stem at the base and are collected as a bouquet at the ground. The flower umbels sit on triangular, tall stems. Ramsons grows between 20 and 40 cm tall. After blooming the ramsons forms, small, round seed pods in clusters of three.
Ramsons can be confused with lily of the valley and autumn crocus, which are very poisonous to eat. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention when picking ramsons. Ramsons can be recognized especially by their strong onion / garlic smell.
REMEMBER: Only eat plants you know for sure!
Ramsons are often used to make pesto and other dips, but there are many other good ways to use ramsons. In my family, ramsons rolls and potato soup with ramsons are popular.
Have a good trip to Arnkil!
Rasmus Ladekjær Nielsen
Nature guide in Sønderborg Municipality