foraging

10-unusual-mushrooms-to-find-in-ireland-orchards-near-me

10 Unusual Mushrooms to find in the Woods

We are always fascinated by nature and the wild world around us. Mushrooms provide an extra element of surprise as you never know where exactly they will turn up.

Yes, there are certain trees that are associated with certain species of mushroom but they may not always appear. This is what makes hunting for mushrooms an extra special foraging activity. People who specialise in the study of mushrooms are called Mycologists and these guys are the experts. Paul Stamets would be considered an expert in all things mushroom related and we would highly recommend a watch of his Ted Talk if you get some time.

As amateurs who have only been studying mushroom for a few years we would never claim to be experts in this area. However, we have identified some wonderful mushroom and we know enough about the popular types to put some delicious dishes together.

1. Cep AKA porcini

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We love stumbling upon Ceps. This is one of the more famous mushrooms around the world and a regular feature in Italian cuisine. Ceps are fairly common from late summer to the end of Autumn but they are often hidden in the high grass. These popular mushrooms taste is delicious.

2. Collared Earthstar

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This is the strangest looking mushroom we have ever stumbled upon. Usually found under hardwood trees. When the rain falls on this mushroom the spores escape, creating an errie smoke.

3. Giant Funnel Fungi – Giant leucopax

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These grow plentiful in Britain and Ireland during the Autumn months. The cap is white and funnel shaped. It is known as an edible mushrooms but all mushrooms should be eaten in small portions.

4. Shaggy Inkcap

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AKA The Lawyers Wig. This tasty mushroom should be eaten very soon after it is picked. They are common in Ireland and often found on the edges of pathways or open woodlands.

5. Puffballs

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AKA Lycoperdon perlatum, the common puffball is a friendly looking mushroom and edible when young. They are found in all types of woodland and only the young ones are edible as the spores turn a horrid mustard colour as they grow.

6. Stinkhorn

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You will spot this crazy looking mushroom from afar. We found two this year. One standing up straight and one flopped over towards the end of Autumn. He was obviously said that the season was finishing up. It smells disgusting and you would want to have a very strange palette to even consider eating it.

7. Amethyst Deceiver

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This is one of my favourite types of mushroom and they are deceivingly delicious to taste. These small purple mushrooms are easy enough to find in mixed woodlands, often under beech trees.

8. Winter Chanterelles

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A firm favourite of all who have tried these delicious mushrooms and often easier to find than their sought after cousin. Winter chanterelles are a tasty treat in Autumn.

9. Honey Fungus

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In Eastern European countries this yellow stained mushroom, aka Armillaria, is one of the most prized mushrooms. It has a distinct nutty flavour but be careful of look-a-like species.

10. The Fly Agaric

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Aka Amanita Muscaria, these mushroom appear in Autumn and add a spot of brightness to the damp woods. They are a vibrant red colour and often produce white spots on their caps. Both Alice and Wonderland and the Super Mario Brothers game feature these magical mushrooms. These guys are considered poisonous and have hallucinogenic properties.

Fun Facts About Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are neither a plant or an animal.
  • Some species of mushrooms have psychedelic properties that will make you hallucinate.
  • The chicken of the woods mushroom feels and tastes like fried chicken.
  • Over 200 species of mushrooms contain Psilocybin, the ingredient that causes hallucinations.
  • Different species of mushroom can be used to produce dyes and vivid colours.

To join us on one of our foraging adventures and learn more about mushrooms please contact our team.

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Healthy Herbal Roots: 3 Roots to Harvest in Autumn

Here is why Autumn and Winter are the perfect seasons for getting back to your roots. Firstly, the cold will convert some of the sour starches to sugar, making the roots a little sweeter. Secondly, they are easier to pull out of the ground as they have stopped growing. Thirdly, it is a great time for foraging and working with roots as some take time to harvest.

Autumn isn’t just mushroom heaven, it is also the perfect time to get to grips with your healthy roots. Here are three of our favourite roots to harvest in Autumn:

Yellow Dock Root

This invasive plant is great for Autumn. You don’t have to be concerned about picking yellow dock because it is an invasive species. Hence, why foragers love it. Yellow dock is your friend if you are lacking iron. It helps us to get our necessary dosages of iron. It is actually more efficient at producing iron in our system. If you suffer from constipation and other cramps Yellow dock will help you through the day.

Wash the roots gently under water. Your immune system should be used of the scraps of dirt that are left over and if they are not than you may need some more wild herbs in your diet.

Just like tumeric, this root will stain your hands yellow. Best to use gloves when you are working with yellow dock and all roots. Pull off the hairy substance around the root.

To make a basic tincture chop up the roots and pour a high alcohol vodka over the top. The tincture should turn bright yellow. Leave the mixture to extract all of the properties over a period of approximately 3 weeks and you are good to go. One Yellow dock tincture coming up!

Dandelion Root

If you have read any of our previous material you will know that we love all things Dandelion. From the leaf to the root, each part of the Dandelion is nutritious and edible. Containing vitamins A, C and K these humble flowers are more than just a garden weed. As foragers we feel that it is part of our mission to disclose all of the nutritious benefits of these underestimated plants.

The roots specifically contain anti-oxidents that can help to fight bacteria and help to fight inflammation. It’s safe to say that we love Dandelions.

Here is a simple recipe for Dandelion tea: 3 teaspoons of dried dandelion roots, 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 cinnamon stick and 2 cups of boiling water.

Burdock Root

This is a firm favourite for herbalists and foragers who like to work with their natural environments. There hasn’t been much scientific research done on this wild plant but it is said to lower blood sugar levels and has been used in traditional chinese medicine for centuries.

Burdock root should not be consumed raw. You can roast it or slice it up and use it alongside your carrots in a healthy stir-fry.

If you are in need of some natural roots feel free to get in touch with us, we stay pretty close to the roots and have being drying for some time. If you want to learn more about wild plants you can team up with us for a foraging adventure in Europe.

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Natural Skincare: 9 Wild Plants That are Good for Your Skin

At one time or another we all suffer with some skin irritation. Whether its a small rash or periodic eczema or dermatitis, your skin needs taking care of and there are some herbs that can help with your natural skincare routine. Plant based skin care isn’t a new phenonemon. Extracts from wild plants combined with essential oils and beeswax are one of the oldest ways to treat skin irritations.

We are all familiar with the beautiful Aloe plant that grows in tropical climates and soothes inflammation but if you are from Europe then you may find more plants with botanical compounds that are closer to home.

Here are just a few of the many wild herbs that have been found to be good for your overall skin health.

Lavendar

Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, lavender is a superb skin herb. You can use dried flowers to make a lavender oil and apply it gently to cuts and sores to help them heal.

Burdock Root

This is a detox plant. It cleanses the body and if you take it regularly it is said to help with acne and eczema.

Dog Rose Petals

Try a rose water toner to cleanse and hydrate the skin. Rose is a mild astringent and helps to hydrate mature skin. Another useful tip is to use the rosehips that come from this plant. Rosehip oil is commonly found in natural food stores and pharmacies these days but you can try to make your own. It absorbs quickly and is often used in anti-aging products.

Thyme

If you suffer from spots and acne than thyme is your friend. Take a small amount of Thyme mixed with alcohol and apply it to the affected areas. Let nature do the rest.

MarshMallow

Use the root of this common plant as an extra daily moisturiser.

Plaintain

This common weed found along the woodland footpaths is a natural tonic. This one is great for moisturising the skin.

Chamomile

This pretty daisy like flower is a powerful wild herb. It has been used for centuries to treat inflammation and muscle pain. It can help to clear up acne and even out the skin tone.

Basil Balm

Basil is known for its cleansing ability and can be used as your super natural skin cleanser. Like most of our favourite herbs basil has lots of anti-oxidants and is also said to help with dark circles so instead of cucumber why not try out some fresh basil leaves.

Chickweed

This tiny flowering plant is bursting with properties that contain natural skin benefits. It is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal. It is a popular ingredient in salves as it has a calming, cooling effect on the skin.

If you are interested in recording your herb knowledge and getting creative with the herbs around you feel free to download our Herb Planner Pack.

There are many plant extracts with natural skincare benefits and the above are just a handful to keep a close eye out for. If you any skincare tips please send them to our team at info@orchardsnearme.com

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What’s in Season? Foraging in November

Mushrooms, Chestnuts, Sheep Sorrel and wild herbs are still available when foraging in November for those wild food lovers who don’t mind braving the elements. Winter is an undiscovered and under utilised time of year to spend in the woods. Rosehips, sloes, crab apples and of course mushrooms are still widely available in November.

By now you may have been out discovering all of the Autumn fruits but wild herbs are still plentiful and you can stock up on your winter tea herbs too.

What you could find

Rose Hips

Bright red rose hips reach out from the bushes in the months of October and November. It is like they are telling us to stock up on our Vitamin C for the winter. Make delicious rosehip syrup or rose water to clean those pores.

Chestnuts

Sweet chestnuts fall from the trees throughout this month. Be careful to avoid the common conker which can have a similar looking shell to your chestnuts. Sweet chestnuts come in packs of three when you open the nut casing.

Crab Apples

This sweet fruit is often overlooked, maybe its the name that puts people off but making crab apple jelly is a great way to use this fruit. Add some cinnamon to your jelly recipe for an extra kick or why not try a winter chutney for Christmas time. Okay maybe its a little early to start talking about Christmas but with all of these wild goods you will want to show off your wild knowledge around the Christmas dinner table.

Sheep Sorrel

This tiny green plant grows nearly year round and packs a punch when it comes to its sour flavour. It contains oxalic acid which gives it a tangy flavor but it is a great addition to salads and soups. Sheep Sorrel is a great extra leaf to add to any green dish.

Gorse Flowers

This is the flower that just keeps on giving. In Springtime and late Autumn the yellow flowers burst to life and it is hard to walk through a mountainside in Ireland without stumbling upon it. This bright yellowed flower makes a tasty coconut flavored wine. Don’t believe us? Give it a try. This is home brew not to be missed.

Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Often found at the bottom of an oak tree, Hen of the Woods is also known as Maitake mushrooms.  When you find a Hen of the Woods it is likely you will find more around the same tree. Look out for giant oak trees and you could be in luck. Clean them, roast them and enjoy the flavors of the Earth. We want to point out that there are several poisonous species of mushrooms so always try to go hunting for mushrooms with an expert.

Pine

The smell of pine trees is just an inviting as any berry during summertime. This plant is rich in vitamins and used to prevent scurvy in the 18th century. It is the perfect addition to your tea recipes in winter time Be careful not to confuse this wild treat with needles from a Yew tree.

Sloe Berries

Everyone has heard of sloe gin but have you ever tasted the berries. They are delicious. November is a great time to forage for your sloes. They make delicious jam, jelly and add an extra spark to any winter cocktail.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert (aka Geranium robertianum) is easy to miss as it is so small along the edges of the woods but once you find it you will keep stumbling upon it. All parts of this tiny herb, the flower, the leaves and the root have been used to cure ailments in the past. Make tea with the leaves, add the pretty pink flowers to your flowers. The herb contains ellagic acid and is a natural source of germanium.

Other wild edibles to keep an eye out for in the month of November include: Oyster mushrooms, Navelwort, winter chanterelles, hawthorn berries, wood sorrel and dandelions.

When and where to go foraging in November

Coastal foraging is popular in the Spring and Summer months but the woodlands is the place to be for the Autumn and winter months. This is where most of the wild plants stay dry in the winter months. Head out for a walk in the local woods. Avoid foraging in local parks as many of the plants may have been sprayed. Never pick something that you cannot identify, especially mushrooms. People are aware that their are poisonous mushrooms out there but often people don’t realise that they can grow next to the edible species and look quite similar. Always go foraging with an expert who knows the local land.

What to Bring Foraging Adventure

  • A pair of scissors, or a good pocket knife for mushroom hunting.
  • A wicker basket or a reusable container.
  • Gloves
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Long sleeves and pants (trousers) to protect from nettles, thorns and poison ivy
  • A small notebook for keeping track of all of your finds.

Resources

Get our Free Foraging Tips: A 6 week guide for beginner foragers!

Don’t let the damp days put you off getting out into the wild. There are wild treasures to be found all year round.

Join us for some foraging adventures to learn about the Wild plants around you.

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Wild Recipe: Beech Nut Butter

If you love peanut butter on toast than beech nut butter is the recipe just for you! It is the healthy wild food alternative to this delicious snack.

Ingredients

  • Beech Nuts
  • Oil
  • Sugar or Honey

How to make Beech Nut Butter

The trick with all wild food preparation is patience and this is especially true when working with wild food.

  • Gather your nuts. Now is the perfect time to gather your nuts. You will find them scattered on the forest floor, in your local park and woodlands.
  • Shell nuts. This can be tricky as beech nuts have small spikes on them but take your time and enjoy the process.
  • Roast on a low heat for 15 minutes. Be careful not to burn the nuts.
  • Rub off skins. Give the nuts a gentle rub. If you put the nuts into a tea towel and rub them together you will get off a lot of the excess skin.
  • Blitz in blender until the nuts become a paste. This is the fun part where you see the nuts turn into a golden paste.
  • Add small quantity of oil. Be careful not to add too much oil as it won’t keep that buttery texture.
  • Add sugar or honey & a pinch of salt
  • Add whole nuts for a few seconds at the end if you like it crunchy
  • Spoon into jars & store in refrigerator

If you don’t have the time but would love to try some delicious beech nut butter please get in touch with us or you can join one of our foraging adventures to collect your own sometime.contact-us-button-orchards-near-me

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Wild Tea Party: Wild Herbal Tea and Recipes

If you are interested in building a long-lasting healthy habit then herbal teas with natural anti-oxidants and health benefits may be just for you. Both hot and cold teas are a refreshing way to relax in the evenings.

Now that the summer is over and we have spent time experimenting with our favourite wild flavours we are ready to share our collection of Wild Herbal Tea recipes with the world.

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Foragers and herb enthusiasts from around the world will have different ways of using their dried herbs and we are no different. From combining wild herbs with traditional herbs and spices we have come up with our top choices when it comes to foraging for wild teas. You can get a copy of our full Wild Herbal Tea recipe collection including our favourite iced teas and detox juices here.

Here are some easy wild tasty tea recipes to try out at home:

Dandelion Tea

 

  • 1 Cup of freshly picked Dandelion Heads
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon of Honey

Add all ingredients to water, gently simmer for 15 minutes and bring to a boil!

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Yarrow Tea

  • 1 Cup of Dried Yarrow Flowers
  • 1/2 Cup of Dried Raspberry or Blackberry Leaves

As one of our favourite herbs we stock up regularly so if you are looking for Yarrow head over to our Be Wild Store. Add all ingredients to water, gently simmer for 15 minutes and bring to a boil!

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Clover Tea

  • 1 Cup of Dried Clover Flowers
  • 1/2 Lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon of Honey

Add all ingredients to water, gently simmer for 15 minutes and bring to a boil!

Infused Pine Needle Teawild-herbal-tea-recipe-collection-orchards-near-me-cover

  • 1 Cup of chopped up Pine Needles
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Add all ingredients to water and gently bring to a boil! For extra flavour you can leave the pine needles in the water overnight and bring to the boil when you are ready the next morning.

For our full collection of recipes visit the Be Wild store and for more information about foraging for wild foods please get in touch with us anytime.

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How to do a Spore Print of a mushroom?

As it is peak mushroom season we are busy trying to identify all of those awkward mushrooms that have dangerous look-a-like cousins. For example the common Parasol mushroom seems to be popping up in fields around us but did you know it has a wicked cousin called the green spored lepiota? Spore prints are a fun and easy way to get to know a mushroom. Spore prints are mostly used for mushroom identification and cultivation.

With gilled mushroom the print process is easy so here is how you conduct a basic spore print for a gilled mushroom:

  • Cut off the stem of a fresh mushroom
  • Lay it down on a piece of paper (white paper for dark gills/black for light gills)
  • Cover the mushroom with a glass to trap the air
  • Leave it for a few hours and when you come back you will have your very own spore print (many look like pieces of art).

Why do you want to do spore prints?

Spore prints are often the easiest way to see the exact pattern of the gills in a mushroom. Also, the colour of the spore can indicate the edibility of a mushroom type.

More Mushroom Resources

Now that you know how to do a spore print all you need to do if find some shrooms and give it a try. If you would like to learn more join us for a foraging workshop where we go out to see the mushrooms in their natural habitats.

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Foraging: Collecting, Processing and Eating Wild Nuts

We are all a little nutty for nuts at this time of the year and we have been getting questions about what nuts to eat and how to eat them. Some nut types have gained a bad reputation for their high levels of tannins which can be harmful to your gut if you eat them in large numbers i.e. Acorns. However as long as you prepare your nuts in the right way then you can look forward to some tasty treats for Autumn.

Wild Nuts We Love

Beech Nuts

The forest flour can be covered with these small triangular nuts at this time of the year. They contain 20% protein, making them an excellent food source for vegans.

Walnuts

You may need a stick to get these delicious treats from the tree and a sturdy pair of shoes to stamp on the outer layer before removing the shelled walnuts inside. You will need to dry them out fully for a few weeks before removing the shells. Walnuts are delicious in lots of baking recipes.

Acorns

Acorn flour is now a trendy as it is gluten free and makes a popular replacement for bread as is holds some sweetness. Foragers tip: Remember, the large the cap on the outside, the more tannin on the inside.

Hazelnuts

When foraging for Hazelnuts you can collect the green nuts that have fallen from the trees but you need to leave them to ripen in a warm, dry place. Hazelnuts are a tasty snack that can be chopped up and added to salads or mixed in with butter for some extra delicious toast. Squirrels love hazelnuts so be sure to leave some for the animals.

How to Leach Nuts

First take the shells off the nuts and grind them down a little. A blender or hand grinder will work for this. Next put your nut mix in a jar, don’t fill the jar up to the top, maybe 3/4 full and then top up the jar with cold water. Put the lid on the jar and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

You will see that the water has turned to an orange colour. Drain this water from the jar and add new water. Now its back to the fridge for another 24 hours. Taste the nut mix after 48 hours and repeat this process until the bitterness of the mix has disappeared.

water. Now its back to the fridge for another 24 hours. Taste the nut mix after 48 hours and repeat this process until the bitterness of the mix has disappeared.

After you have leached the nuts you can dry them out using a dehydrator or oven bake them on a low heat.

Remember that nuts are high in good fats and shouldn’t be stored at room temperature. To keep your nuts for longer try freezing them.

A Nutty Recipe for A Cosy Weekend

Here is a lovely recipe for Acorn Falafels from the HungerandthirstforLife Blog

Join us for one of our foraging adventures to learn more about wild nuts and how to use them in your recipes at home.

 

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10 Clever Ways to Teach Kids to Love Nature

We have had toddlers and teenagers out on the trails foraging with us and they really enjoy getting to know their natural surroundings. Do you feel that it is time to teach kids to love nature? Here are a few simple tips to help them to stay curious about nature and all of its wonders.

  1. Discover Conkers

I grew up playing Conkers. Kids always love an element of competition and conkers is such a fun game to try out at home. This is a simple way to teach your kids about horse chestnuts and trees. To play this two person game all you need are two pieces of string or two shoe laces and conkers. Make a hole through the conker, tie the conker to the end of the string. The aim of the game is to break the other persons conker. Tip: Pick the best conker! Drop the conker in a glass of water, if it floats it will break easily.

2. Paint Leaves

This one is for the kids and adults. Pick your favourite leaves, bring them home, make sure that they are dry. Now cover them in your favourite coloured paint, stick them onto a white sheet of paper. Get creative with your patterns and make a piece of art to hang on the kids bedroom wall. What better way to get back to nature then showing how nature can be used to make indoor spaces shine.

3. Climb Trees

This seems like an ancient past-time these days but climbing trees and hanging about in the woodlands can be lots of fun.

4. Go Foraging

An obvious one for us foragers but we highly recommend foraging with children and teaching them about the wild plants around them. They have curious minds and will ask lots of questions. Believe us, we know! To learn more about foraging join one of our tours or book a private tour with us for your family here.

5. Go Camping

A summertime favourite, this isn’t always the easiest trip for a family to organise but there are many dedicated camping sites that facilitate families today.

6. Make shapes from the stars

One of my favourite hobbies as a child was to see what animals could be found in the sky. I even once found a rabbit. Learning about the sun, the stars and the planets is a fun way to awaken the mind.

7. Plant something in the Garden

If they are not growing greens at school then home is a great place to start. Just explain to them that GIY is super trendy right now so they can tell all of their friends about their home grown goods. To start off with plant something easy. Lettuce, herbs and green beans are pretty easy for GIY beginners.

8. Start a Nature Table

This is an easy and aesthetically pleasing way to bring nature indoors. Simply start to collect bits and bobs when you are out on your next hike. You don’t need lots but in the end you will have your very own natural history museum.

9. Take a hike and Bring a picnic

Pick a local hiking trail and put a date in the calendar. Getting ready for a picnic can be as much fun as eating the treats. Prepare for your hike together, go to your local store to buy the ingredients, make a flask of tea, sandwiches and any other goodies you would like to bring along. Make sure to give the kids their own bag for the journey.

10. Get Muddy

Nature isn’t about perfection, it is all about basking in the imperfections. Wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and allow your kids to feel the earth, jump in the mud, climb the trees and splash in the streams.

These are just a few ways to teach kids to love nature but there are endless reasons why we think climbing trees and getting muddy should be on your kids to do list.

If you would like to arrange a family foraging tour¬†please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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What’s in Season? Foraging in October

Bolete Mushrooms, hazelnuts, rosehips and sloes are four of our favourite wild edibles for the month of October. Ripe fruits are falling, fungi is calling and it is time to step into nature. Autumn is the perfect time to stock up on some foraged treats.

What you could find

Rowen Berries

The distinctive orange Rowen berries grow in large groups and pair well with any red meat. The berries are also packed with Vitamin C.

Elderberries

Elderberries are ripe on the trees right now. Their deep purple colour is easily spotted parks and woodlands across the UK and Ireland. Used to combat the flu, elderberry jam is a great plant for combating the winter cold.

Sloes

Have you heard of Sloe gin? Gin is all the rage at the moment so Im sure you have. Sloe gin is delicious but it takes awhile to allow the gin soak up the berry juices. Three ingredients: Sloe berries, sugar and gin. Put a lid on it until Christmas time and you will have the perfect after dinner cocktail.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnut moose has become a firm favourite here at Orchards Near me and these delicious nuts are plentiful when foraging in October.

Blackberries

It is hard to pass through a park that doesn’t have a blackberry bush here in Ireland. We consider ourselves to be very lucky at this time of year. The bushes are bursting with black juiciness and it is the perfect time to stock up on jam for the winter months.

Pullball mushrooms

We don’t list too many mushrooms as their are over 10,000 species to be found, many of which are poisonous. Identifying mushrooms is an art all by itself. Examining the cap, the gills and the stem is all part of the process. Pullballs are one of the easiest to identify and can be picked up in local woodlands throughout Europe.

Rosehips

Packed with Vitamin C this winter fruit is the perfect addition to your herbal teas. Simply wash the hips, leave them to dry out over a few days, add them to a pot of boiling water, strain and enjoy!

Other wild edibles to keep an eye out for in the month of October include: Acorns (must be leached), Apples, Walnuts, Bolete Mushrooms, Chickweed, Chestnuts, Dandelions, Hedgehog Mushrooms, Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms, Mint, Plantain, Prickly Pears, Shaggy Mane Mushrooms, Sheep Sorrel and Wild Grapes.

When and where to go foraging

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Nature is all around us, all you need to do is look up and go for a stroll in the woodlands. Depending on what you are looking for you will be greeted by different plant varieties everywhere you go. When mushroom hunting it is best to find your local forest or team up with a local forager who knows the area. Herbs grow plentiful all year round but spring and summer are bursting with herbal goodness. Berries and mushrooms appear in Autumn.

What you will need for your Foraging Adventure

  • A pair of scissors, or a good pocket knife.
  • A wicker basket or some reusable container.
  • Gloves
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Long sleeves and pants (trousers) to protect from nettles, thorns and poison ivy
  • A small notebook for keeping track of all of your finds.

Resources

Download your Foragers Planner Pack

Get our Free Foraging Tips: A 6 week guide for beginner foragers!

Join us for some foraging adventures to learn about the Wild plants around you.

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