Pickled Wild Leek Bulbils

In our house, we call Wild Leek Bulbils "Pobbles" - I'm not 100% sure why. I think it may be a reference to the tapioca balls found in Korean Bubble Tea, but don't quote me on that. Whatever you like to call them, wild leek bulbils are the tiny, yellow-white onion-like bulbs that form below the flowerheads of Few-Flowered Leek. This sweet pickle is just like a jar of pickled onions, only the onions in this case are tiny! A teaspoon-full of pickled bulbils is a lovely sweet garnish when strewn over a salad. Wild Garlic also forms small green bulbils after flowering and these can be used in this recipe as an alternative if you can't find any Wild Leeks.

Pobbles are easy to harvest - you just strip them off the flower stalks into your hand, then transfer them to a small tupperware box for safe storage in your basket. The fiddly part comes afterwards - picking through the pobbles to remove any flower petals, stalks, and bud skins. This isn't strictly necessary if you can't be bothered doing it - it's all edible - but we do find it looks rather nicer in the jar without the straggly bits. Christina and I tend to perform this task whilst watching Netflix of an evening. Alternatively, you can ask nimble-fingered children to do it in exchange for a gold star, although we haven't had much success with that one, so far!

Bulbils are the small, onion-like bulbs that form at the base of the flower heads of Few-Flowered Leek.


Prep Time: 1-2 Hours

Cooking Time: 5 Minutes

Quantity: Makes one baby food sized Jar of Pickles

  • As many wild leek bulbils as you care to gather and strip!
  • 50ml White Wine or Cider Vinegar
  • 50ml Water
  • 35g Sugar
  • Pinch of Black Peppercorns
  • Pinch of Rock Salt

Tip: We tend to make these at the same time as Pickled Wild Garlic Buds, as it's the same brine recipe. There's usually plenty of brine leftover from pickling the buds to use for a baby food-sized jar of pickled pobbles!


  1. Remove any flower petals, stalks and bud skins from your bulbils, then wash and drain in a fine sieve.
  2. Make a pickling brine by adding the Vinegar, Water, Sugar and Salt to a pan and bringing to the boil, stirring continuously until the Sugar and Salt has dissolved.
  3. Remove from the boil, add the Peppercorns and allow to cool.
  4. Fill a sterilised baby food jar with the bulbils and pour the pickling brine on top, until the jar is full. As the bulbils are very light, they will float to the top of the jar, so a pickling pebble or other small makeshift weight is recommended to ensure they stay submerged in the brine.
  5. Seal the jar and leave in a cool place for at least 1-2 days before eating. The unopened pickles can be stored for up to six months. Once opened, keep in the fridge and eat within 7 days.

The tiny bulbils are fiddly, but delicious. A small tupperware-box (or a fresh doggy poo bag!) full should be enough for a baby-food sized jar.

Wild Garlic also produces green bulbils that can be pickled.

Mix it up ...

Why not try some additional spices in the pickling brine, such as dried chilli flakes, mustard seeds, or bay leaves? You also use Wild Garlic bulbils if you can't find any Few-Flowered Leek. Wild Garlic Bilbils are small, and green, rather than yellow-white.