foraging

Plant of the month: Red Clover aka Trifolium Pratense

Trifolium pratense

Best time to Discover May – September
Colour Purple, Red
Habitat Grasslands and roadsides
Where Throughout Europe

These furry topped plants are a member of the legume family. Often used in herbal medicine and found in many health shops these days, the wonderful Red Clover is abundant throughout Ireland and the UK.

They contain isoflavones, a type of polyphenol and associated with a number of health benefits, including increased antioxidants and maintaining blood vessel health.

USES

In the olden days red clover has been used to treat asthma, coughs and cancer.

Today, Clover tea and small amounts of it in dishes is said to help with high cholesterol, indigestion and menopause symptoms.

Red clover is a friend of their environment, they fix nitrogen into the soil which is absorbed by other plants. “

“The use of forage legumes such as white clover, red clover and lucerne as well as grain legumes such as field beans and peas can significantly reduce the need for the application of inorganic nitrogen fertiliser” (farmingforabetterclimate.org)

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Assisted Colonisation for endangered species paired with Education about Invasive Species

As part of our foraging we study how beneficial native species are to the environments around them but what about invasive species and plants that are not considered native but do provide much needed nutrition to our diets? Rewilding the spaces around us and leaving local plants to thrive are two effective ways to combat ecological damage that has been ongoing. The negative impact that climate change is having on biodiversity around the world is now being felt by too many plant species.

Endangered plant species are often thought to have no value to humans and this is where attitudes can be turned around. More and more we are finding usefulness in the wild herbs, plants and fungi that pop up each year. If preserving whole eco-systems is now a trend then it must take the lesser known, lesser used plants into account. This endangered plants may not be for human consumption but they form a critical component of our life on earth.

Evidently, climate change is changing natural environments so much that it is no longer sustainable for some species to survive in their natural habitats or locations of preference. So the question is how do we relocate plants and animals to safe, unnatural locations without interrupting the flow of nature and native species?

A very interesting paper from Yale begins to ask these questions and discuss the idea of assisted colonisation for insects, plants and animals that are currently endangered due to climate change and environmental factors outside of their control.

35,000 threatened species out of 134,425 assessed. Out of these 6,811 species are considered to be critically endangered by the International Union for Conversation of Nature. This is due to a wide range of factors including loss of habitat, disease, pollution, exploited natural resources, hunting and invasive species exploiting areas. It is not a new idea to take one species and move it to a safer place. This has been happening for thousands of years. Humans and plants migrate together and form communities that go on to make up our ecosystems. Conservations have and are arguing about forced or assisting colonisation of plants into new places. However, there may not be enough time for long winded debates. The act of preserving this critically endangered plant species becomes about building an ecosystem fit to host multiple foreign species, alongside native plants, without interrupting the entire pattern of biodiversity in a region.

I write about assisted colonisation here and today because I think it will be crucial to our foraging tours of the future and mass appeal of education around the benefits that plant species (not just the grapes from the vineyard) bring to a community. It is hard to imagine life without wine Cork or the fun of escaping the Venus Fly Trap and the soothing calm that the agave plant offers when we see it. 

Whatever projects we start or policies we make we better get on top of it fast as every day counts when it comes to protecting the landscapes around us. Are you interested in learning more about these endangered plant species? We will bring you to some of the places around Europe that enjoy the fruits and natural wild plants of their communities.

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6 Wild Teas to Forage all Year

There is always time for tea in our house. In fact, in Ireland it is said that one person can have up to 8 cups of tea a day. Tea has to be the ultimate comfort drink.

Red Clover Tea

Red clover is one of the most popular wild teas and luckily for us the plant is available for most of the year. The soft spiky purple headed flowers are hard to miss if you find yourself in any wild fielded area. This wild gem is used for lots of traditonal medicines. It is often used to treat respiratory issues and skin conditions. Next time you are out for a walk keep an eye out for some clovers. To prepare your red clover tea dry out the flower heads in a warm dry area (a windowsill will work), add three teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of boiling water, let steep for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Wild-herbal-teas-poster

Pine Needle Tea

The smell of pine is so enticing it is a wonder why this isn’t the most popular tea of all. Don’t be put off by the prickly pine needles, this tea is rich is Vitamin C and will give your immune system a welcome boost. There are many different species of Pine so be sure to do your research before picking. Spruce Pine is our favourite to use in teas. Be careful to watch out for Yew species as these are toxic. To prepare your tea simply boil a pot of water, add two handfuls of pine needles and drain. It smells like Christmas and you can have it all year round.

Nettle Tea

It is now common knowledge that nettles are a super food. The plant often disgarded and feared for its sting is one of the most valued plants by foragers. Nettles can help with urinary conditions, arthristis and blood sugar management. Always wear thick gloves when picking nettles. Add a spoon of honey and a slice of lemon for a little kick to one of the most popular wild teas.

Chamomile Tea

Also known as the natural calmer, wild chamomile is the ultimate cup of relaxation. The flowers contain the flavour. They look similar to daisies but are much bigger and usually bloom in the summer months. You will find them alongside karst coastal landscapes. Dry out the flower heads and add them to a cup of boiling water for a cup of calm at the weekend. Pregnant women should avoid this herb. This flower also works well with any salad dishes.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

This tea tastes most closely to our common tea leaves found in the supermarkets. However, as with all plants, raspberry leaves contain anti-oxidents and the leaves are packed with nutriants. When you boil it and remove the leaves it looks like your average cup of black tea. It contains a property called fragarine that helps to tone and tighten the pelvic area. Hence why many women use it around their menstual cycle.

Bull Thistle Tea

These plants have to be one of the hardest to forage. These prickly forest friends are easily identifiable with their spear heads and purple flowers. The best tea comes from cooking the roots. Always wear gloves when handling thistles.

We have created a downloadable wild teas poster for all of the wild tea fans out there.

Enjoy sipping your very own foraged teas this year.

Happy Foraging!

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Foraged Vitamin C Oat Balls

This super simple recipe is becoming a staple in the kitchen for the Autumn months. Learn how to pack a healthy dose of fresh Vitamin C into your breakfast balls with these tasty foraged Vitamin C packed Oat Balls aka Rosehip balls.

Just before we head into winter the rosehips are ripe for picking from the thorn filled bushes. There has to be some natural force behind this as our bodies are craving some Vitamins to sustain us for the long winter nights. We have come up with the most delicious way to use up your unused hips at this time of the year. Here is our delicious Oat ball recipe, made with freshly foraged and dried rosehips.

Ingredients

  • Oats (3 cups)
  • Brown Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Honey (5 Tablespoons)
  • Condensed Milk (1/4 can)
  • Dried and Fresh Rosehips (2 handfuls)
  • Blackberries (1 handful)
  • Grated Apples x 2
  • Dark Chocolate (1 Bar – 200g)
  • Sea Salt (1 Tablespoon)

How to make Vitamin C Oat Ballsrosehip-oat-balls-vitamin-c

Step 1. Head out on a local foraging adventure to pick some fresh rosehips or buy dried rosehips from us if you don’t have time.

Step 2. Gather the other ingredients of oats, sugar, honey and condensed milk and gently combine them. Stir in a handful of raisins and two handfuls of loosely chopped dried rosehips. Now add two grated apples and a handful of blackberries.

Step 3. Roll this mixture into small balls and leave in a heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Step 4. While your oat balls are in the oven heat some dark chocolate over a hot pan. Add a tablespoon of sea salt.

Step 5. Take your balls from the oven and coat them in the chocolate, leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Voila, you have your very own foraged Vitamin C oat balls. It is easy to play with this recipe, adding different seasonal products at different times of the year. We will give some Spring Oat balls a go in a couple of months.

 

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Nature Healing Menu

Taking time out for you is one of the most rewarding things that you can do is today’s busy world. At Orchards Near Me we like to bask in the power of nature healing and all of the ways that the natural world can help us to be more mindful each day. Those of you who engage in meditation will know that is has the ability to transform our connection with the space and people around us.

Combine the art of meditation with nature and you have a winning strategy for overcoming obstacles, staying positive and connecting your self with the wider world. Download or use this nature healing menu as a guide to help you develop your appreciation for the power of nature and establish a greater connection with the outdoors.

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Wild Recipe: Caramelised Wild Onion and Nettle Dip

Are you hosting a dinner party or brunch anytime soon? Maybe you are looking to make something a little different for your Friday night treat? Our Caramelised wild onion and nettle dip is the perfect addition to any cheese board or platter of chips for any occassion. It is super simple, delicious and packed full of nutrients.

Ingredientscaramelised-wild-onion-and-nettle-dip-orchards-near-me

  • Wild Onion grass
  • 1 handful of dried nettles
  • Sour Cream
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

How to Make your Wild nettle Dip

  1. Put a knob of butter in the pan and heat it on a low heat
  2. Slice the onion finely and add it to the pan
  3. Add your sugar next and leave to fry gently
  4. Combine your chopped up dried nettles and onion grass
  5. Add these to the pan and stir
  6. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and stir in your sour cream
  7. Add some chopped parsley and a teaspoon of worchestshire sauce

Serve this up with some homemade crackers (try our curly dock crackers here) and cheese.

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What’s in Season: Foraging in Summertime

This is the time of the year when all of the fruits come to life. Foraging in Summertime is always a worthwhile adventure. From coastal trails to edible flower to long stemmed plants that have fully grown, there are endless wild treats to learn about during the summer months.  In addition to being a ripe time for picking it is also a beautiful way to experience the outdoors and get a welcome boost in Vitamin C.

We head to our local forest tracks, travel to our nearby beaches and climb the mountains of Europe to find the best wild produce, experiment with summer herbs and enjoy the mindful activity of foraging with friends. Take our your foraging basket and guide, you are ready to pineapple-weed-coastal-foraging-in-summertimediscover what’s in season and use some wild edibles in your summer dishes.

EDIBLE FLOWERS

  • Mallow
  • Meadowsweet
  • Yarrow
  • Carendula
  • Borage Flowers
  • Dandelion
  • Fireweed

BERRIES

Bilberries

Also known as the wild blueberry, the bilberry has a long history of use in Ireland. In the middle ages they were also used as a dye. They are a protection plant that contain vitamin C and reduce inflammation.

Wild Strawberries

Sweet wild strawberries can be found in the Northern hemisphere along the trails in the summertime. They are much smaller than your average supermarket strawberries and used to make tasty desserts like jam, scones and short bread.

Elderberries

You will find these dark purple berries heavy on the elder trees from August to October. The berries and flowers are packed with anti-oxidants. In April you can make traditional elderflower cordial from the cream soaked flowers and in September you can stock up on elderflower jam.

WILD GREENS

Mullein

Mullein is easy to recognise, the bright yellow flower blooms in the summer months. Use the flower in tea or oil to help fight infections. The leaves are believed to help the respiratory system and asthma sufferers.

Nettles

Often considered one of natures superfoods, stinging nettles are the perfect addition to summer smoothies. Foraging for this green leaf starts in March and you can collect it throughout the summer months. Note: Be sure to wear gloves.

Paintain

With a long history of medicinal use, this weed is often underestimated. Used to treat kidney infections, liver problems and jaundice. You can treat it like you use spinach in recipes. Once you become familiar with this rounded leaf you will start to see if everywhere; parks, forest trails, woodlands and mountainous areas.

Wood Sorrel

Want to add a splash of sour to your summer salads, Wood Sorrel is available year round and you will find carpets of this delicious green in your nearby woodland.green-walnuts-summer-foraging

MUSHROOMS

Chanterelles

The golden queen of the forest, Chanterelles will start popping out to say hello as early as July. These sweet mushrooms are the perfect addition to pasta dishes and very popular with 5 star chefs around the world. If you find some chanterelle treasure don’t ruin the taste by washing them too hard. For a simple side dish, gently fry with butter, garlic and pepper. You can’t miss the wavy look of these mushrooms however there are some lookalikes out there so be careful and always forage with a guide.

Chicken of the Woods

Bright yellow or burnt orange and jutting out from the trunk of a tree, it is hard to miss this variety of wild mushroom. Known as Chicken of the Woods because it has a similar texture to pulled chicken when you pull it apart. Mostly found on dead or dying hardwood trees.

Ceps

Ceps aka Porcini mushrooms are some of the most prized wild mushrooms you can find in the late summer months. They are delicious but not as readily available or as easily spotted as other varieties. Commonly found underneath oak and beech trees, these shrooms are the perfect addition to any of your favourite Italian dishes.

NUTS

Green Walnuts

This is an early summer treat that not many people take advantage of. Pickled walnuts are one of our favourite side dishes in summertime.

Join one of our next foraging tours or find out more about foraging in summertime with our free foraging guide.

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chocolate-orange-curly-dock-recipe

Wild Food Recipe: Chocolate Orange Curly Dock Brownies

Are brownies one of the most popular treats today? I will admit that I am not much of a baker. Cooking is my calling and I love to work with food but I find the strict nature of baking, where you have to measure every ingredient carefully, too restricting. So when it comes to baking recipes I need easy to make ideas that will allow that extra room for flexibility if I decide to put in an extra spoonful of chocolate. These wild curly dock brownies turned out to be super simple and super tasty. chocolate-orange-brownie-recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ground curly dock seeds
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 200g of Dark chocolate

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 Cup of icing sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Orange zest sliced thinly

How to Make Your Brownies

Preheat oven for 20 minutes.chocolate-orange-buttercream-topping

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or tinfoil. Beat the sugar and butter together until it is light and fluffy, add the eggs and mix. Leave to the side while you prepare the dry ingredients. Melt 1/2 the chocolate over a hot pan and leave it cool down. Fold into the wet mix.

Sift the dock seed, flour, baking powder and cocoa power together.

Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Spread mix in lined baking tray.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until centre comes out clean with a knife.

Add wild berries and icing sugar to decorate.

Voila! Now you are ready to treat your friends to some wild curly dock brownies. Learn more about Foraging for Curly Dock seeds here.

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Foraging for Curly Dock Seeds: Wild Flour, Crackers and Seed Mix

Getting to know Curly Dock aka Rumex Crispus is the perfect way to start a love affair with wild green leaves and wild seeds. It is a native plant in Europe and Asia but can today be found in agricultural land across the world. As one of the five most widely distributed plants in the world it is strange that we don’t find it is use in many areas.

Perhaps it is overshadowed by its edible cousins Buckwheat and Japanese knotweed, the Curly dock gets left on the shelf. As a medicinal plant it has been used as a laxative, to treat blood diseases and to treat jaundice.foraging-for-curly-dock-seeds-orchards-near-me

Is Curly Dock Edible?

Nearly every part of this commonly found plant is edible; the stem, the leaves, the seeds and the root are used in different ways.

Where to Find Curly Dock?

Curly dock isn’t fussy when it comes to its habitat and where it chooses to grow. You will find it on shingle beaches, roadsides and walking trails. It also grows in wet conditions, hence why we have so much of it here in Ireland. The leaves can be found all year round.

There are many myths that suggest rubbing dock leaves on a nettle sting will relieve the pain. Although there is no scientific evidence to prove this actually works, there is something soothing about using nature to cure any natural stings or bites.

In the summer and early Autumn the seeds start to appear on the dock leaf stems. They will turn brown and get lighter in weight.

How to prepare dock seeds?

The seeds should be harvested in late summer when they have turned brown. Simply use a knife or clippers to cut the seeds from the curly dock stems. Then gently pull the seeds from the stem while holding it over a large pan or bowl. You can either wash them gently or sift them through a sieve to remove any bugs. Finally use a pestle and mortar or a coffee grinder to blend the seeds into a fluffy flour mix.curly-dock-flour

The seeds are gluten free for anybody looking for a wheat free flour. Be sure to store the dock flour in an airtight container.

Dock Seed Recipes

Curly Dock Crackers Recipe

If you are looking for a simple snack recipe then curly dock crackers are easy to make, nutritious and full of flavour.

  • 1 cup of ground curly dock seeds
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Dried Thyme or Rosemary
  • Water

Wild Seed Mix

You can use this wild seed mix to add a spoonful of natural nutrition to your meals. We hand pick and dry out all of the seeks on a tray and combine an even amount of each one.

  • Curly Dock Seeds
  • Plaintain Seeds
  • Nettle Seeds

Now that you know all about Curly dock seeds you can keep an eye out for them the next time you are out for a walk. Let us know if you have any curly dock recipes to share too, we love swapping notes.

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Can Nature Therapy Help Us to Live Mindfully?

Can nature therapy help us to live mindfully? If we are seeking to live In times of uncertainty we tend to float towards the familiar; the morning routine that helps us to start the day, the habits that keep us grounded, the meals that provide comfort and the people that love us unconditionally. However, we also crave the excitement and adreneline of the new. Adventure is now firmly embedded as a popular form of holiday to be taken each year.

This familiarity and newness that nature brings with every season is one reason why nature is so important in our everyday lives.

What is Nature therapy?

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Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as eco-therapy, describes a broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings (Source: Wikipedia)

Nature therapy is anyway in which our senses are connected to the natural world around us. It often involves some kind of outdoor activity and enables us to live mindfully, in the moment, turning off our busy minds.

Keats celebrated nature and all of the elements within his natural surroundings. As a romantic poet he basked in the natural environment, admiring its ability to heal us.

“O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, —
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,forest-bathing-nature-therapyIts flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell” John Keats

How to Live Mindfully with Nature

There are many ways that we can choose to live mindfully with nature. From guided walks to gardening, nature related activities help us to disconnect and eliminate distractions.

  • When you go out for your next walk in the wild practice the art of observation. Look up at the trees, admire the flowers, search for the cracks in nature and allow your sense of sight to explore all of the elements around you. The simple activity can help you towards mindful living.
  • Enjoy discovering wild food with the art of Foraging. This is one of our favourite mindful outdoor activities. There is no better way to plunge into the natural world then to taste it. Learning about the wild plant species and how to use them in our very own recipes is the ultimate reward when it comes to mindfully engaged nature therapy. Download our foraging planner pack to get started.
  • Listen to the sounds of the birds, the trees swaying, the bees buzzing and know that guided-walks-nature-therapynature is alive and well. The restorative power of natural sounds is worth exploring.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities that allow you to immerse yourself in your natural surroundings; sea swimming, walking, running, cycling and gardening are just a handful of the many outdoor activities that connect us with nature.
  • Learn about the many bird species as you engage in bird watching. You may need a pair of binoculars for this activity but even without them, watching the many beautiful birds and how they interact with the landscape it fascinating.
  • Study the plants like you have never seen them before. Many wild plants, trees and flowers become familiar sights throughout the seasons but do you know their scientific names? Do you know that many of them are used by herbalists? Do you know which ones are poisonous? Learning botany can be a lifelong passion.
  • Take your camera for a stroll. Photography is a skill that takes time to master but we all enjoy capturing those memorable moments. Use your photography skills to observe your natural surroundings and focus your lens on one or two important shots.
  • What do all of these activities have in common? They take place outdoors, in our natural environments and they don’t cost a thing if you wanted to try one today.

If you want to embark on a week long excursion or book a guide to do a tour and learn a new skill you are going to have to fork out some cash but once you are aware of the benefits of immersion in the natural world, it is always worth learning more. Believe me if you have experienced a holiday where nature is a key feature such as foraging in Europe or guided walking holidays, you will find it hard to go back to lounging at the pool for the week. Live mindfully as much as you can throughout the year with the activities above but once a year treat yourself to a special break away on one of our recommended tours and enjoy the nature that somewhere new has to offer.

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Virtual Nature Experiences

The subject of visual healing is not a new phenomenon. It is proven over centuries through the use of various art forms in therapeautic settings. Art therapy has been used in the history of mental health treatment so it makes sense that visual therapy offers the ability to reduce stress and inspire wellbeing. The term was officially coined in 1942 however is it clear from the renaissance art of the 14th century that appreciation for visual representations that evoke feelings and depict reality begin to come to the forefront. This notion of art as an expression of moods is developed further in the 20th century with renowned artists like Vincent Van Gogh using his paintings to reflect a mood at a point in time. Nature can also be used to reflect the mood of the seasons and give us living art and moving visuals to reflect upon.

What is new is the combination of virtual experiences and how we interpret moving visuals. By combining natural visuals with technology we can incorporate nature therapy into our everyday lives without leaving our homes. From scanning Google Earth to watching videos of surfers take on the waves of the Atlantic to using outdoor meditation videos on YouTube to practice meditation in your living room. The mechanisms needed to incorporate nature therapy into our lives is all around us. These applications will become more dominant as we increase our need to associate with the natural world, seeking out spaces that allow us to be live mindfully and peacefully.

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