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.
Wild Onion grass
1 handful of dried nettles
1 large onion
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt and Pepper
How to Make your Wild nettle Dip
Put a knob of butter in the pan and heat it on a low heat
Slice the onion finely and add it to the pan
Add your sugar next and leave to fry gently
Combine your chopped up dried nettles and onion grass
Add these to the pan and stir
Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and stir in your sour cream
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.
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 discover what’s in season and use some wild edibles in your summer dishes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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,Its 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 nature 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.
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.
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.
This striking, woolly headed plant certainly stands out from the crowd. We often stumble upon Kidney Vetch when we are out for a stroll along the seaside but is kidney vetch edible? The answer is yes.
Many parts of this wild plant are used in herbal medicine. The dried flower heads are a tea substitute and the roots and leaves are used as an astringent and laxative. To use the flower, leave the petals to dry naturally in a warm, dry area for 3 – 4 days, add a teaspoon of honey and voila you have yourself a vetch tea.
Spear leaved Orache is a dusty green leaf that is commonly found on and near the beach. Coastal tracks will lead you to this salty wild treat. The first time we encountered to wild edible leaf was on a coastal foraging excursion to the west coast of Ireland with our foodie friend Denis. He would often stop and taste the delicacies of the land: samphire, dulce and chamomile were definitely on the list but then we stumbled upon Orache and he told me to try some. I was blown away.
This is the salty spinach I wanted to add to every soup dish I had tried so thanks to Denis we made a new discovery and have been using Orache to experiment ever since.
What is Orache?
Orache is a green plant that loves to grow in saline laced sand and coastal areas. It is also know as Atriplex (A.prostrata)
How to Identify and Eat Orache Leaves
The spear headed leaves and the coastal location makes this tasty plant easy enough to identify.
There is a look-a-like plant called lambs quarter which is also an edible cousin of this plant but not as salty and mostly found near woodland.
The leaves are arrow like triangular shaped.
You can eat Orache leaves raw in a salad or fry them up in a little olive oil. Substitute it for some of your spinach recipes.
When to eat Orache?
Forage the young leaves in late March and April. They maintain their saltiness while also having sweeter tones that are easy to digest when raw. Harvest the mature leaves in summer time. I snip the leaves in the summer months, leaving the stems for wildlife to nibble on.
This is a super easy and super delicious wild recipe that you bake over and over again. One batch a month is probably enough but in the summer months wild onion focaccia recipe goes well with any main meal.
For the Flavour
1 large handful of Wild Onion chopped finely
1 small bunch of wild garlic chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic grated
Fresh herbs chopped finely (we used rosemary and thyme)
1 Cup of Olive oil
Pepper and Sea salt
For the Dough
1 packed of dry fast acting yeast
2 1/2 cup of flour
A teaspoon of salt
Putting the Ingredients together
Add all of the flavour ingredients to a pan and pour over the olive oil. Leave this heat gently. Once the oil is infused with all of the ingredients leave it cool down.
Add the yeast to a cup of warm water. Mix in 1 cup of flour and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add the salt and the remainder of the flour. Now you are ready to add half of the oil mixture to your dough. Knead the dough 20 times and put into the fridge for 1 hour.
After an hour, remove the dough from the fridge, roll it out roughly (you don’t want to flatten it completely, just make a nice bulky rectangle). Now pierce holes all over the top of the dough with your thumb, pour over the rest of the infused oil and put into the oven for 25 minutes at 160 degrees.
Whip together a few homemade dips, wild garlic hummus or just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
A simple, wild focaccia recipe for family and friends. Enjoy!
We have been brushing up on our herb knowledge for years and if you are truly passionate about the subject you will know that it is a never ending commitment to life long education. Learning about plants, natural remedies, foraging, botany and forestry is time well spent.
Herbalism is something that can be taught in the classroom but like everything in life, nothing beats real life experience.
To truly understand the value of herbs in your daily, weekly, monthly life then you must practice, experiment and dedicate time to each individual herb you wish to study.
Here are a few of the free ways that you can learn about herbalism:
Head to the Library
A free space that provides you with all of the materials you need to learn about every herb, plant and chinese medicine techniques; the library is like a slice of heaven for any life long learner. Enjoy spending an afternoon browsing through the many books that will provide you with insights, inspire your foraging adventures and allow you to expand your knowledge of herbalism in all of its glory.
Free Courses for Herb Enthusiasts
Learn about herbalism with an online course. There are plenty of herb related courses you can take to get inside knowledge of herbalism. Check out the beginners course from the Herbal Academy and if you are interested in the plants that are used in natural Chinese medicine, this one has five sessions and will teach the basics of Everyday Chinese Medicine.
Watch Herbal YouTube Channels
We love watching videos on YouTube that can teach us something new and herb related tutorials are a treat for anyone interested in learning about plants. Eat the Weeds, Mountain Gardens and Avena Botanicals have some super videos packed full of herbal information for you to digest.
Visit your nearby Plant Shop
Your local plant shop and neighbourhood stores will provide more insights than you can imagine. We regularly visit the local garden centre, plant shops and hardware stores to pick the brains of the staff who have provided years of expertise when planting and growing herbs. Check out the plant descriptions, examine the growth of the plants from season to season and ask as many questions as you can.
Listen to Herbal Podcasts
Tune in to the Natural MD Podcast where we learn how natural medicine. She provides a weekly podcast on women’s health that will teach you something every time you listen in. Listen to the For the Wild podcast from fellow foragers and nature enthusiasts. It focuses on the protection of land, storytelling and our relationship with the landscapes around us.
Get to Grips with Herb Gardening
There is probably no better way to get familiar with the native and non-native herb species around you than by working with them on a weekly basis. The best way to do this is to grow them from seed or stem. A major plus with herbs is that you don’t need a lot of space to grow them in abundance and you can have several different herbs growing alongside each other. Try the mint family, basil, thyme, rosemary and wild herbs as a beginner.
Pick up a copy of our Herb Planner Pack here and start recording your herbal remedies, wild adventures and herb knowledge.
If you have anymore suggestions of how we can brush up on our herbal knowledge please get in touch with us. We are always interested in learning about herbalism, the benefits of herbs, the uses of herbs and how we can incorporate more wild herbs into our everyday cooking.