foraging

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Bespoke Workbooks for Wild Food Lovers

Every season we try to keep track of all of our wild food finds. We write them down, put them alongside new recipes that we try out and try to remember the locations of the plant. It is difficult to remember every trail and every outdoor adventure throughout the year so we have designed bespoke worksheets for our foraging adventures and our herb garden.

Each pack contains everything you need to start planning your wild food adventures. It should allow you to get organised and keep a record of your progress when you are learning about the herbs and wild plants around you. Each workbook contains 15 pages that are downloadable and reusable for your seasonal experiences.

The foraging planner workbook includes a journal, a trail tracker, a seasonal worksheet and goal setting worksheets. GET YOUR FORAGING WORKBOOK HERE

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The Herb planner workbook includes seasonal herbs, recipe sheets, a trail tracker, a herb journal and a herb diary. GET YOUR HERB WORKBOOK HERE

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We hope that you enjoy our bespoke workbooks for all of your wild food adventures.

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Best Wild Herbs for Anxiety

When you are feeling stressed or anxious you will take anything to make this panicked feeling disappear. Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Whether its an interview you have to do, an exam you have to take or the stresses of work. However some people suffer more than others and find it difficult to manage their levels of anxiety.

You may already be familiar with the big drugs like zanex or valium but many do not know that natural herbs growing all around us can help us to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Why not give a mixture of exercise, meditation and herbal teas a try to tackle your inner demons?

What are the causes of anxiety?

It is usually a combination of factors that include environmental factors and genetics.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Every person is different and we all react in different ways. A feeling of panic, an increased heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, restlessness and a lack of focus are just a few of the many common symptoms of anxiety.

Here are some of the best wild herbs for anxiety:

St.John’s Wort

Dried St.John’s Wort can be a calming tea substitute if you want to relax at the end of your day. The active ingredient of hypericum in this herb is said to interact with the hormones of serotonin and dopamine which are associated with depression. One study by the Cochrane Review Group found that it was as good as standard anti-depressants. However like all things we consume, this herb interacts with all other chemicals in our body so if you are best to consult your doctor if you are taking other medications before messing around with this powerful yellow plant.

Valerian

Used as a medicinal herb since ancient greek and roman times, this bright flower has become well regarded for its treatment of nervousness. Taking a cup of Valerian root tea can help the mind and body to relax, therefore aiding stress and anxiety. Herbalists sometimes use it as a tincture.

Lavender

Lavender has traditionally been used for its calming and therapeutic properties. In some countries a bunch of lavender is placed under a pillow at night-time to improve sleep and you will commonly find lavender scented candles in spa resorts to enhance a calm atmosphere. Evidence suggests that lavender oil taken orally is an efficient mood stabilizer, may be helpful in treating neurological disorders and contains neuroprotective properties.

Lemon Balm

This sweet scented herb has been used for over 2000 years and it is believed to be a mood enhancer. It has the ability to improve cognitive function and has proved effective in the treatment of anxiety. One study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that administration of 300 mg lemon balm extract for 15 days showed to improve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in participants.

Why try natural remedies for anxiety?

Why not! If you are feeling anxious or stressed sometimes a walk in nature is all you need. You can also try cleansing the air of negative energy with some DIY smudge sticks. However if you want to try herbs or other remedies there are plenty of ways to try and tackle those negative feelings and herbs may be one of many things that people have used to sooth the mind since ancient times.

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3 Wild Christmas Dinner Side Dishes

‘Tis the season to be merry and wild. We are always experimenting with wild produce in the kitchen and Christmas dinner side dishes are a fun way to use some of your favourite winter greens.

Roasted Pine & Garlic Croquettes

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Roasties and Christmas dinner go hand in hand. In Ireland we have every kind of potato imaginable on the plate. From mash to roasties to boiled to everything in between but by far my favourite are the fluffy potato croquettes. This delicious side dish takes a little bit of extra prep but it is worth every minute. Why not give roast potatoes on a bed of pine or spruce needles a try. This is an easy recipe that has all the smells of the holiday season and the tastes of the forest.

  • Ingredients: Potatoes, Freshly cut Pine tips, Breadcrumbs, 1 Egg, Flour, Oil, Butter and Sea Salt
  • Instructions: Wash and Par boil your chopped up potato squares. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees. Melt two large spoons of butter in a pan and toss your potatoes into the pan. Lay your pine needles onto the tray. Cover the whole tray if you can. Now carefully place your boiled, buttery potatoes on top. Sprinkle salt and drizzle oil over the top. Enjoy!

Wild Winter Greens

Christmas dinner can often be heavy with stunning, potatoes and all of those carb filled treats. For a light, refreshing side try a wild green salad.

  • Ingredients: Ground Ivy leaves, Seabeat, Sloe Berries, Hairy Bittercress, Sorrel, Gorse Flowers, Dandelion leaves, dandelion roots, lemon and olive oil.
  • Instructions: Collect your edible winter greens fresh from the land around you. Wash the ground ivy leaves, bittercress, sorrel and dandelion leaves carefully. To prepare the dandelion roots scrub off the dirt and slice into small cubes. Oven bake the roots for 15 minutes. Remove all thorns from your gorse and only use the bright yellow petals. Mix your leaves together, sprinkle the berries, roasted roots and flowers. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pickled Sea Radish and Red Cabbage

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If you live near the coast than you will be spoilt for choice with wild green edibles. Sea Radish is one of our favourites as it is available throughout the year. This simple little recipe provides a tangy taste that goes well with your less fragrant vegetables. It takes a few days to pickle so be sure to prepare this one in advance.

  • Ingredients: Sea Radish pods, curly dock seeds, red cabbage, peppercorns and white wine vinegar.
  • Instructions: Wash all of the ingredients gently under warm water. Thinly slice up a 1/4 of the red cabbage in strips. Add all of the ingredients to a large jar and cover completely with the white wine vinegar. Close the jar tight and place in the fridge. Allow the pickling to work its magic for a few days. When you have chosen your cheese and wine, take out your wild pickle mix to go with them. This is a super easy, tasty treat to have as a snack at Christmas time. Surprise your guests and add an extra punch of flavour to your cheese board after dinner.

You will be ready for a true festive feast with these delicious Christmas side dishes. For more wild food inspiration you can find more recipes here.

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6 Tasty Food & Foraging Experiences in Europe

At Orchardsnearme.com we only partner with the experts. From food filled adventures to local foraging experiences, each trip is designed to reflect the true landscape and production in a region. If you are a food and nature lover than there are some mouthwatering foraging experiences in Europe.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast

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We always start at home. As we are based in Ireland we can guarantee a fun time on this action packed food adventure. From coastal foraging along the Wild Atlantic Way to mountain walks to meeting the local historians, every activity on this excursion is unique.

WHEN TO GO: When you visit Ireland at any time of the year you can expect all four seasons in one. However, the tides do need to be considered when planning any coastal foraging adventure. We are planning expert guided tours for April and May 2020. If you want to organise a private group trip outside of these days please get in touch with us directly.

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Italian Foraging Experience

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Real foodies will be in heaven on this bespoke foraging experience. This day long tour is packed full of natures delights. You will enjoy learning about the wild produce of Italy, sample pasta making, taste the wines and meet the local experts.

WHEN TO GO: Italy can be extremely hot in the summer months so we are recommending the Spring and Autumn months for guided foraging adventures in Italy.

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Do Emporda Wine & Orchard Adventure

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The untouched beauty of Do Emporda region in Catalonia will leave you wanting more. From famous tapas to orchards bursting with fruits, this area is waiting to be discovered. Visit stunning apple orchards, taste the local wines and meet the fruit producers.

WHEN TO GO: Catalonia is blessed with the beautiful sea breeze from the Mediterranean. Even in the middle of summer if you are by the Costa Brava you should enjoy a nice summer temperature. Any month from March to September is good for this tasty adventure.

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A Taste of Slovenia: The Mountains are Calling

Untapped and ready to be explored, Slovenia is rich in nature, making the perfect partner for our team. From those who love to combine outdoor adventure and food filled trails, the Julian Alps is the perfect spot to sip the local wines and get a true taste of outdoor life.

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WHEN TO GO: There are snow capped peaks in the North west of Slovenia from December to March each year. From May to October you will enjoy warm weather and perfect conditions for getting outdoors, visiting the local food producers and experiencing the landscapes.

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Discover the Douro Valley

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Our friends in the Douro region of Northern Portugal are looking forward to welcoming you to one of the most famous wine regions in Europe. On this unique trip you will have the opportunity to visit an olive farm and several vineyards to get a true flavour of the land.

WHEN TO GO: The Douro Valley experiences warm summers and cold winters. From May to October you will enjoy sunshine, warm winds and the ideal months for witnessing the harvest activities of the region.

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A Taste of Croatia: Gourmet Adventure Break

Now renowned as the home of Game of Thrones, Croatia is a magical country to visit. From the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic coast to lush waterfalls of the interior, we will connect you with every aspect of nature. Truffles feature heavily in all aspects of this farm-to-table adventure.

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WHEN TO GO: From November to April many of the tourist accommodation and facilities close for the winter season. Between May and October you can expect dry, warm weather weather and lots of activity around all of the major towns.

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To book your next food filled adventure or learn more about the wonderful foraging experiences in Europe talk to a member of our team anytime.

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Wild Recipe: 3 Cosy Wild Tea Recipes for Winter

Nothing warms the heart like a hot cup of tea in the winter months. Sitting by the fire with a mug of your favourite wild tea will bring a smile to your evening. We love to forage for wild tea ingredients. From calming chamomile to energy boosting dandelions, there is inspiration everywhere in nature. Here are three of our favourite wild tea recipes to try out at home.

Sweet Rosehip Tea

Rosehips are a ripe winter fruit that contain large amounts of Vitamin C.

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Dandelion Delights

This little yellow weed never fails to surprise us. We use the flower heads for tea, starter snacks and additions to our pies. The leaves and root can also be used in your wild dishes. Dandelions contain anti-oxidants and are said to reduce cholesterol and inflammation.

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Soothing Yarrow Tea

Yarrow is a relaxing herb. It helps your muscles and improves blood circulation. Note: do not use this herb if you are on other medication or pregnant.

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To learn more about Wild herbal teas and make some delicious blends you can download your own Wild Herbal Tea Recipe Collection.

For more information about foraging for wild tea ingredients contact the team or join us on one of our foraging experiences.

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What’s in Season? Foraging in Winter Months

Sometimes foraging in winter feels like a secret adventure. Wild foodie treasures don’t fully disappear after the fruitful summer months. Fresh green leaves, nuts and berries may be a little harder to identify but they are there for the taking. Sometimes it feels as though nature knows more about what we actually need than we do ourselves. You will find plenty of sources of vitamin C and other immune boosters during the winter months, helping you to keep cold and flu symptoms at a distance.

When the evenings are dark and there is frost in the air you have plenty of time for playing around with your wild food finds in the kitchen. Every season is a time to get back to nature and reconnect with the landscapes around you. When you look at the winter hedgerows, drooping, grey and glistening with frost, it’s hard to imagine there is much life around. But the truth is, even in the depths of winter, plenty of foodie treasures can be found.

Grab your hat and scarf and head out for a local forage with friends. Here are just a few of the wild treats you can hope to discover in winter.

BERRIES

Rosehips

One of our favourite food sources in winter is the Vitamin C packed rose hip. These are plentiful in parks and woodlands at this time of year. Be sure to wear your gloves as they come with thorns attached to the stems. Enjoy sipping rosehip tea and mixing them for syrups.

Hawthorns

Used as a herbal remedy to tackle high blood pressure in ancient times, the hawthorn berries and stems are high in antioxidants.

Juniper Berries

These tree berries are deep purple in colour. You can infuse them in drinks and the stems have a wonderful fragrance that can be used to clear any nasty odours in the house.

Sloe Berries

Gin infused with sloe berries is now one of the most popular drinks on the market and it is easy to see why. Sloes are sweet and pack a punch when it comes to flavour.

WILD GREENS

Pine Needles

These spiky needles that come from scots and spruce pine trees contain high amounts of vitamin C and are often used in winter herbal tea recipes.

Wood Sorrel

Available year round this healthy woodland green is a wonderful addition to warm salads in winter. They have a bitter but pleasing taste that will leave you wanting more.

Jack by the Hedge

Often known as garlic mustard, Jack by the Hedge is a winter gem. They have distinct heart shaped, hairless leaves that sometimes look like nettles but they won’t sting you. The leaves have a natural anti-freeze and so they are worth foraging in the winter months.

Honesty

With its radish flavoured leaves Honesty is a lovely little leaf to forage in winter. Try a taste of the root and the leaves.

Ground Elder

Smelling and tasting a little like parsley we can think of lots of dishes for this wild weed.

Dock

If they are picked young they have a nice lemon flavour that goes well with any fish dish.

MUSHROOMS

To our amazement the woods are still packed with different mushroom species this year but there are some types of mushrooms more commonly found in winter than others. These include wood blewits, velvet shank mushrooms and oyster mushrooms.

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

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Wild Recipe: Pickled Plantain Seeds

Ever thought about cooking with plantain? This common weed is full of nutrients and so versatile. We are having a lot of fun experimenting with this wild weed and cooking up some tasty wild recipes.

WHAT IS PLANTAIN?

Broadleaf Plantain (aka Plantago Major) is a common weed, medicinal plant and natural herb. It can now be found growing in most parts of the world. It contains vitamins A, C and K. The oval shaped leaves can be eaten raw and the seeds are packed full of nutritious benefits.

HOW TO PREPARE AND USE PLANTAIN

Leaves can be added to salads and all parts of the plant can be mixed in with your homemade vegetable soups. Plantain seeds can be used in salads, stir-fry’s and curries. Today we are making pickled plantain seeds.

INGREDIENTS

  • Red Cabbage
  • Coriander
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Curly dock Seeds
  • Plantain seeds
  • Chilli
  • Garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

Carefully wash all of the ingredients.

Use a pestal and mortar to grin the chili, garlic cloves and sugar together.

Finely chop two handfuls of red cabbage.

Add all of the ingredients to a large jar, throw the seeds on top of the mixture. Add a pinch of salt and pour white wine vinegar over the mixture until it is fully covered.

Leave the closed jar to ferment for two to three days in the fridge.

Enjoy your pickled plantain goodness! If you have more sweet or spicy plantain recipes we would love to hear from you.

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Why eating local is the future!

Do you know where the food that you eat comes from? If not than maybe its time to find out. Eating locally produced food has benefits for both us and our fragile eco-system.

By 2050 the UN experts predict that we will  have 2.5 billion more people living on our planet. The UN believes that we will have to double our food production but wait, let’s take a closer look at our current system and see if there are some areas of improvement. If one third of the food we grow is never eaten than there is surely room for lots of improvements in how we consume our foods and the way we learn about the food around us.

This is one of the primary reasons foraging for food became a passion for us. We wanted to see how the plants were growing, what environments they lived in and how other plants interact with them before we decide to use them in our dishes. Experimenting with food has to be one of my biggest passions and heading out into the wild to source invasive wild produce is like going to a toy store as a child.

WHY WE SHOULD EAT LOCAL

NUTRITION

If you buy locally grown food than the food should arrive on your plate shortly after it is produced, thereby holding more of its nutritional value. The quality of the food will be better and we will eat more seasonal produce.

INVEST IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

As well as helping your local environment you are also helping the local economy. Buying local means that the money you spend on food goes back into the local economy, spreading the wealth around the local area.

REDUCE FOOD WASTE

This is something that we are all guilty of and with the prolific use of plastics in our supermarkets it is difficult to avoid all waste after you do your shopping. However if we begin to shop locally and organically we can significantly cut down on our weekly waste.

In addition to composting we can find alternative uses for our food waste and this is starting to become a hot topic of conversation. Farms are experimenting, using compost as feed and biofuel.

SAVING ESSENTIAL WATER RESOURCES

Our natural water sources are being depleted. A sustainable future requires a collective appreciation of all of our water sources.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Here are four simple changes that you can make to your daily routine to help secure a brighter, sustainable, local future for your community.

  1. Take time to understand where your food is coming from and how it is produced.
  2. Adopt a composting culture. Recycling has become the norm for most households today, composting needs to be the same.
  3. Save water whenever possible.
  4. Join us for a foraging adventure and learn about the wild edible species around you.

Some people are concerned that foraging or extracting sources of wild food could damage the environment. However, let me introduce you to invasive plants. Everywhere you look you will stumble upon an invasive plant species. Not all are edible but some are simply delicious and not only is it okay to forage these wild plants, you are assisting the environment by tackling the large amounts of these non-native species and allowing the true natives to flourish.

After a number of years in the making, the Invasivore Movement is catching up and people are starting to realise that eating local doesn’t have to be expensive. Eating local may mean both organic farm produce and wild invasive species like some weeds that can easily replace a number of our refrigerated green leaves. Using weeds as a source of food can be nutritious and benefit the environment at the same time.

In fact many environmental groups agree that invasive species can damage and change a landscape. According to the Woodland Trust “invasive non-native species are one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss” and over 30% of important plant areas contain invasive species. How do we tackle this issue? Well, will I be so bold as to suggest foraging! Yes, foraging is one way that we can help to reclaim the natural eco-system and improve the quality of life for our native plants and trees.

Let’s think about other ways that we can begin to think locally, eat locally and create a sustainable environment that feeds future populations. Do you eat your local fruits and plants? If you have a local food story to share we would love to hear from you.

Join in our wild food experiences and come foraging for invasive plant species on one of our guided foraging experiences.

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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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