Archives June 2019

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How to make herbal tea?

Drinking a freshly made pot of herbal tea is one of our favourite ways to relax in the evenings. This is going to be short because it is easy to do if you take a little bit of time.

First you need to select your favourite herbs to use in your herbal tea. As budding foragers we love to pick wild herbs. Some wild herbs that we use include meadowsweet, red clovers, peppermint, dandelions, daises and rose petals. Going in search of some wild herbs for your tea is great fun and you can bring the whole family along or join one of our foraging trips.

To make the tea simply pick off the stems of the plant. With most edible herbs the flowers and leaves are fine to eat but always double check in advance. For example, elderflowers are a delicious addition to your herbal teas but you have to avoid using any part of the stem.

Now you are ready to put the herbs in a pot, dry roast for 2 – 3 minutes, now add your cold water. Let the water boil for 10 – 15 minutes. Drain the liquid and voila you have made your very own herbal tea. Maximum flavour requires extra steeping and many people will dry out the herbs fully (either roasting or sun drying) before they use them in their herbal teas.

Enjoy discovering the flavours of nature. Feel free to join us on any of our foraging adventures. You will find upcoming day trips here and for foodie lovers you can check out all of our food filled experiences here.

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Sustainable foraging tips

We all crave some sunshine and nature therapy these days. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time walking the forest paths? Foraging is all about taking time out to appreciate the land around us. This doesn’t mean trampling on natural habitats or stealing from the orchards. Picking fruit and wild plants is more than that. It brings us closer to the wildlife around us and connects us with a forgotten way of life.

Believe it or not there are some rules when it comes to foraging and wild plants aren’t something you want to be messing with if you don’t know what you are doing. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to foraging:

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DO leave at least a third of the blossom, flowers, berries, seed heads, nuts, leaves, seashore vegetables and seaweeds on the plant and cut, don’t pull.

DON’T attempt to cook any plant you don’t know.

DO venture off the beaten track to find wild plants.

DON’T be afraid to get your hands dirty.

DON’T break branches to make gathering easier.

DON’T pick or bring home fungi that is over mature.

DON’T venture into private land without permission.

DON’T pick plants in conservation areas where there is a Department of Environment notice that states you should not do so.

DO avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides if you are re-planting.

DON’T forget to pick up litter if you see some along the way.

DO take care where you park your car. Don’t block farm gates.

DO close all farm gates after you. DO bring all your litter home.

DON’T dig up wild plants.

DO have fun in the wild and explore your surroundings.

For more information about our foraging and fruit picking adventure please contact one of our fruit loving team. If you want some foraging tips you can get your 6 Foraging tips for beginners here.

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5 Amazing European Food Adventures for Summer

From culinary treats to wine enthusiasts to local foods, we have put together our list of top food adventures for food and nature lovers.

Europe is full to the brim of exciting foods to try. From the vineyards of Italy to the shellfish on the Wild Atlantic Way, every food tour is unique and bursting with flavours.

Treat yourself to a taste of Europe with these amazing food adventures for summer time.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast Food Experience
Find yourself rambling along the Wild Atlantic Way to get a taste of the stunning landscapes of Ireland on this 5 day foodie experience. The sheep will greet you as you discover the green landscapes and walk the coastal tracks in some of the most peaceful locations on the Island. Get a taste of the Craic agus Cheoil, stopping into the local pub along the way. This tour is ideal for small groups and we guarantee that you will learn a thing or two from the local foraging experts before you finish.

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Hunting for Truffles in Northern Italy
A perfect combination of romance and luxury, this Italian tour will enlighten your taste palette. Starting in Alba, renowned for it’s world famous white truffles, you will join the local food experts as we hunt for truffles in the lush countryside of Italy. Finish each day with a traditional meal and enjoy a slice of luxury with this unique tour. If you are a pizza, pasta or wine enthusiast than this is the perfect foodie experience for you.

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Wine tasting and Wine Making in the Algarve, Portugal

From breathtaking beaches to walking by the cliff edges, the Algarve is one of our favourite sun soaked locations in Europe. The natural landscape remains relatively untouched and there is a distinct feel of local pride for everything that the region has to offer. Sample the local wines, learn the skills of wine making and taste the famous bacalau.

Discover the delights of the Douro Valley

Northern Portugal is packed full of wonderful foodie treats. On this unique food adventure you will get to taste the grapes, sample the wines and try delicious local cuisine in the famous Douro Valley region.

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A Food Filled adventure in Burgundy, France

On this foodie experience you will team up with local wine and foraging experts. They will teach you how to hunt for truffles and you will have the chance to sample the rich, local wines. Visit the magical city of Dijon int the heart of Burgundy where you can taste the best local dishes in Michelin starred Pre aux Clercs Restaurant. You can also visit the Fontenay Abbey and the spectacular Chateau Ancy-le-Franc. You are in a country rich in history so be sure to soak in the past.

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For more information about any of our food filled adventures please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Unique Foraging Experiences in Ireland

Getting acquainted with the Irish countryside is one of the best ways to spend a few days discovering the land around you. With our unique foraging experiences you can get back to nature, learn about the wild foods around you and spend time getting to know the local food experts.

I have been foraging the Irish coastlines and woodlands all of my life. The joy of stumbling upon a pool of peri-winkles or a patch of chanterelle mushrooms will brighten any day. The beauty of foraging is that no two tours are the same. Each time you head out on the trails you don’t know what to expect and the best part is using your recently picked treasures to cook up some fresh and delicious. Here are some of our top foraging experiences to try out in Ireland:

A Wild Food Adventure in Wicklow

Enjoy the spectacular landscapes in the garden of Ireland while taking the time to get to know the plants around you. On this day tour we be immersed in the peaceful countryside, taking you along quiet forest tracks and giving you a taste of the land. Look out for wild mushrooms, elderflowers, edible leaves and more.

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Student Food Tours

These tours are a live and learn experience. We take small groups of eager nature enthusiasts to the countryside to give them a taste of the wild foods growing all around us. This half day tour is designed to give you a true taste of nature. We will identify wild plant species and show you how we use these edible goods to cook up something delicious.

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Coastal Foraging on the Wild Atlantic Way

If you are planning a trip to the west coast of Ireland than this short day tour will delight your senses. We take a coastal walk smelling the fresh sea air and forage for some of Ireland’s hidden shellfish. Mussels, winkles, seaweeds and seabeet are just some of the goods you can expect to discover on this unique adventure.

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For more information or to book your next foraging experience in Ireland please contact one of our foodie experts.

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Bee extra careful Foraging and Identifying Mushrooms

Last week, myself and my fellow forager Emily headed for the wooded mountains of Wicklow to seek some freshly foraged wild goods. Although both of us enjoy foraging and have a reasonable knowledge of the wild plant species around us, neither of us pretended to be a mushroom expert.

We started in the stunning little town of Rathdrum which is perched high on a hill in the middle of the Wicklow countryside. For a small village, it has a bustling atmosphere and some pretty cafes to stop in for a well needed morning cuppa before we got going. We walked the jubilee loop, taking some detours along the way when our senses guided us deeper into the woodlands.

On this quiet trail you pass through a meadow of ferns and dandelions that greet you as the first foraging stop along the way. We carefully plucked a few dandelion heads and red clovers before heading deeper into the Irish jungle. Before entering the crowded forest we found that there were several Elderflower trees leading us towards the woods. Yes, we had a picking good time. It would be rude not too.

The weather was good to us as the sun was out but the previous three days had been damp and rainy. I just knew that we would stumble upon some fungi. Once we found out first patch of field mushrooms we saw them jotting up from the wet earth everywhere we looked. We were after the much prized chanterelles but it was much too early in the year.

However we did manage to get up close and personal with many different varieties of mushrooms. Luckily we had our guidebook with us so we could check up on the species as we came across them. It is a well known rule of foraging that you should never pick what you cannot identify. Here are some of the shrooms we encountered along the way:

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Mushrooms included: the Butter Waxcap/Hygrocybe ceracea, the Star Pinkgill/Entoloma conferendum, the False Chanterelle and the Phallus Impudicus.

Towards the end of our trip we looked up and found a tree bursting with heads of honeysuckle. The smell is sweet and delicious. This would later be boiled into a syrup.

Although our trip was a fun adventure we are looking forward to our next trip when we have studied the mushroom varieties and maybe bring a mushroom foraging guide to help us along the way.

Join us for a wild food adventure in Ireland:

Foraging Adventure for Nature Lovers €50.00 per personS
Wild Atlantic Coastal Foraging €75.00 per person
Student Foraging Tour €30.00 per person

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Elderflower Summer Cocktail with Pine Needle Juice

When we think of summer Elderflowers naturally come to mind. If you are walking through the pack, taking a hike in the woods or strolling by the canals in summer you will smell the sweet, cream Elderflowers.

Elderflowers are pretty easy to forage. The large white heads that hang out in groups will catch your eye. However be sure not to mistake Cowslips for Elderflowers, they look alike and grow along the same paths. Cowslips are whiter in colour and have longer stems. To be sure just lean in for a sniff of the flower and the scent will guide you.

 

Now, how do you forage for pine needles? This is an easy one. Look out for gigantic Christmas trees and you will be in luck. You only need a handful of this green giant so don’t be greedy.

These two ingredients make the perfect summer party combination; fun, easy to make and delicious.

Here is our Elderflower Summer cocktail recipe with a splash of pine juice:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large pot of Elderflowers (approximately 10 healthy heads)
  • 2 cups of pine needles
  • Vodka (your brand, your choice)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 lime
  • A spring of pine to garnish

HOW TO MAKE

First you need to prepare your Elderflower cordial. To do this you need to shake the heads of the Elderflowers to remove any insects, cut off any stems and place them in a large pot of water.
Allow this mixture to simmer for at 30 minutes, making sure the heads are covered with water at all times.
While this pot is bubbling away gently wash your pine needles, and cut them or pull them away from their branches. Place the needles in a bowl and add two shots of vodka. Use a blender to whizz up these two ingredients and extract all of the pine juices. Sqeeze the juice from half of a lime over the mixture.
Let’s get back to the Elderflowers. Use a tea towel or cloth to strain the pot or flowers (you should be left with a yellow clear liquid now.
Add this flavoured water to a fresh pot, add 1 cup of granulated sugar and let it dissolve over a low heat.
Remove from the heat and let it cool in the fridge.
Ready to put these pungent ingredients together? Pour the pine needle juice first, followed by half a cup of Elderflower cordial, add an extra shot of vodka for a good kick and a spring of needle to garnish.
You are ready to serve up your Elderflower summer cocktail.
Enjoy!

If you have any foraging tips we are always on the look out for tips, ingredients, nature lovers!

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6 reasons why fruit picking is food for the soul

How easy it is to take the natural environments around us for granted. It is even easier to take the fruit that we eat each day for granted. Bunches of bananas, bags of all kinds of apples, bunches of grapes and endless plums greet us as we shop in our local stores.

Where have these fruits come from, you don’t ask. How about we get to know the fruit we eat a little more and better yet hear from the fruit pickers who spend endless days picking these ripe treats.

Learn about the land

There is no better way to learn about the landscape of a region then getting out and feeling it (literally). Any of our fruit and foraging experiences offer the chance to get to grips with the harvest around you. Lifelong learning is no longer undervalued, it is an essential part of our growth. As long as we stay inquisitive, our mind will stay active. Let’s go and see what the land has to teach us.

Get back to nature

Nature therapy is becoming very trendy these days with forest baths, eco hide-aways and orchard experiences playing a part in re-kindling our relationship with the outdoors.

Turn off to Turn on

Another reason why fruit picking is food for the soul is it forces us to turn off from our screens and tune in to the life that surrounds us. When we stop looking down and start looking around we can observe the wildlife, the harvests and participate in the farming activities that are crucial for our survival.

Live in the moment

Fruit picking and foraging for wild foods forces us to live in the moment. Allow all of the troubles of yesterday or the worries of tomorrow subside and enjoy spending time with the fruitful landscapes around you.

Give back to the community

When you visit a place do you think about how the land around you is used by the local community? Oftentimes the agricultural activities of an area are outside of the main resort towns that we visit. By linking up with the fruit suppliers and wild food foragers of the land we can introduct you to these hidden activities.

Discover the Taste

Do you ever wonder why homegrown fruit tastes so much better? There are a number of factors at play here but mainly it is fact that the fruits are freshly picked from the trees and go straight into your mouth. In our minds there is nothing better than the bursts of flavour from freshly picked fruits.

If you are a fruit and food lover looking for inspiration for your next adventure then we are here to help.

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7 reasons to visit France for Nature

The world’s most visited country is blessed with stunning countryside landscapes, farms, fairy-tale cities and the french riviera. When visiting France your senses will come alive. From smelling the sweet vineyards of Burgundy to the pear fields of Normandy. This country is a food lovers paradise.

Renowned around the world for it’s fashion and romance, Paris is a must stop place to visit on your journey to France. The romantic capital is filled with public squares, spectacular architecture and the most delicious foods. Although the Eiffel Tower continues to be one of the most talked about visitor attractions in Europe, there is a lot more to see outside of the capital and we want to get you back to the natural landscape.

If you are looking for a flavour of France then venturing to the countryside will give you a taste of the land. Join us for unique food and orchard experiences in France. From the fruit filled vineyards of Burgundy to the luxurious champagne region to the orchards of Normandy, there is something for every nature lover in France.

Boasting a number of historically famous painters, philosophers and writers, France is a land of cultural gems. Starting in the culture packed centre of Paris you can travel to some of the charming surrounding regions.

  1. Picturesque villages

You are not going to be bored in France. You can get busy and cultural in cities like Paris, Lille, Lyon, Dijon, Marseille, just to name a few big French cities. You can reach a nice countryside, take your time, enjoy local specialities, take part in harvest…vineyards are waiting for you …Beaujolais, Cote du Rhone, and other countryside experience in Provence, Alsace….just choose the part of France you want to see first and enjoy its charm and beauty! Then I bet you will fell in love and continue to explore more of this stunning country.

2. French Cuisine

Pastry heaven with croissants and bagettes dripping from bakers windows. French food is elegant and comforting all in one. From the delicate crepes to the freshly plucked escargot, there is something sophisticated about the food culture in France. Each time you get a taste of the fresh produce and classic dishes you are creating long lasting memories. Bon appétit!’

3. Endless Vineyards

At Orchardsnearme.com we are all about the vino and the wine regions in France are first class. The deep red “vin rouge” of Burgundy to the sparkling Champagne region, there is so many flavours of wine on offer in France. In certain regions of France, you can sip on wine from grapes grown on the very land you’re stood on. Head to Bordeaux for the best red wines and the Champagne region for the iconic bubbly. Join our wine filled adventure in Burgundy.

4. The weather

It never gets too cold in the South of France – but man, does it get hot. If you want to see the spectacular blue waters of the Mediterranean or stroll along the Promenades des Anglais in Nice without getting a layer of skin burnt off, now’s the time to come. It’s warm enough to sit on a chaise longue all day and read a book; yet still chilly enough at night to wear that fabulous sweater you packed. Cole Porter might have loved Paris in the springtime, but nothing beats the South of France on a sunny day.

5. Art & Heritage

From the Mona Lisa to the Eiffel Tower we all know that France is synonymous with art and culture. There’s the famous battle sites of the Somme and the D-Day landings, as well as the stunning chateaux, churches and cathedrals that decorate the landscape. Avignon, Canal du Midi and Loire Valley are just 3 of the 39 Unesco world heritage sites that make France special.

6. Cafe Culture

Everywhere you go in France you will find charming cafes dotted along the side streets where you can grab a café au lait and let the world pass you by. If you are really living the French fantasy you may have a philosophy book or a journal with your musings with you.

7. Orchards and Country life

The idealised version of rural life in France isn’t a dream for the locals who enjoy the stunning countryside everyday. France is the ideal destination if you are looking to escape city life for a break. Cycle the fruit trail of Normandy to soak up the french lifetyle, visit some of the wonderful orchards and get a glimpse into history at the imperial war museums and d-day beaches.

From historic towns to the smell of fresh bread to miles of perfectly manicured vineyards you can’t help but fall in love with the french landscape. We are interested to hear your top tips when visiting France.

C’est magnifique!

For more information about our fruit and foraging tours in France please contact one of our travel specialists.

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