Hello Fellow Foragers! We have got you covered for a couple of fun foraging adventures in Springtime.
Let Winter be the time for research, planning, and discussing new beginnings. Spring is the starting point, the time when everything is at your fingertips and the world is waiting to inject energy. I hear you now “come on and just get on with the program”.
So, what can you expect to find inside this months issue of “The Forager” for February? Let’s take a peek!
Foraging in Springtime: Get ready to embark on an exciting journey through lush forests and meadows as we explore the bounty of nature awakening from its winter slumber. From delicate wildflowers to hearty greens, discover the treasures waiting to be harvested in the great outdoors.
A Wild Cleanse with Sticky Willies (Got to be the best title ever): Join us as we delve into the world of Sticky Willies and learn how these underrated wild plants can be transformed into a cleansing tonic to kickstart your spring detox. Get ready to feel revitalized and refreshed from the inside out!
Wild Green Walnut Nocino: Indulge your senses with our irresistible recipe for Wild Green Walnut Nocino, a traditional Italian liqueur infused with the essence of early-harvested walnuts. Sip, savor, and celebrate the flavors of spring with this delicious homemade treat.
Wild Onion Focaccia Recipe: Elevate your baking game with our mouthwatering recipe for Wild Onion Focaccia, featuring foraged wild onions for a flavorful twist on this classic Italian bread. Impress your friends and family with your culinary prowess!
Food for thought: Curious about the latest trends in foraging or looking for recommendations on books and podcasts to expand your knowledge? Dive into our “Food for Thought” section, where we share insights on what we’ve been reading and listening to in the world of foraging and beyond.
Subscribe to “The Forager” today and join us on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of springtime foraging. Let’s embrace the season of renewal and rediscover the joy of connecting with nature one wild treasure at a time!
Back in 2013 I packed a suitcase and headed for British Columbia, not knowing how much the culture of outdoor living would have a longer-term impact on my consideration for the natural world. This organic affiliation with outdoor spaces was both inspiring and thought-provoking.
Why were the people of Canada so in tune with outdoor recreation? The climate certainly had an impact as the summer months allowed for the production of fruit varieties that would be the envy of many countries. Another factor was the close connection between the public and the farms/orchard operators.
Fast forward 10 years to 2023 and two failed start-ups to cater to those who wanted to connect with nature and food and here I am rambling about the same passion for picking fruit, wild foods and connecting with nature.
Last year I wrote an article about the issues facing our future food supplies if producers continue to ignore the trends pointing towards a green-focused economy. This article discussed the fragmented approach to food production and distribution, identifying key areas of improvement and future ways that we could consider using technology to enhance transparency within our manufacturing processes.
What are pick-your-own farms?
Pick-your-own farms, also known as “U-pick” or “PYO” farms, are farms where visitors can go to pick their own produce, such as fruits, vegetables, or berries, directly from the fields. These farms provide an opportunity for people to experience agriculture and learn about where their food comes from. They also offer the freshest, local ingredients and an alternative to supermarket chains that often bring in produce shipped from around the world.
Many pick-your-own farms have different types of products available at different times of the year. Additionally, many farms offer extra activities, such as wine tasting, pumpkin picking, jam making, petting zoos and family days out.
Why should we cultivate a pick-your-own culture in Europe?
Pick-your-own farms typically operate seasonally, which is another reason to love them. What happened to wait until it was berry season to pick berries, holding out for Autumn to get the best chanterelles or making apple tart in September when the kids go back to school? The food we eat is undoubtedly connected with our family traditions and identity. Increased demand for a year-round supply of all foods from everywhere threatens the very enjoyment of eating, tasting, and valuing the foods we grow up alongside.
There are many positive reasons to foster a love for picking locally grown food. From building a sustainable future to supporting local businesses to eating the freshest ingredients, the list is endless. Being closer to nature is now even prescribed by doctors in South Korea, the US and Finland with 5 hours as the minimum time per month recommended by some doctors in Finland. However, the common benefit for all who engage in pick-your-own activities is the sense of community.
By establishing pick-your-own farms and encouraging pick-your-own activities, a way of life develops within a community. Not only are traditional foods of a region preserved, but the outdoor lifestyle is also preserved and that feeling of attachment to a place or region is more firmly rooted as many people increasingly spend time attached to new ways of interacting and new virtual work patterns. A sense of community is what binds the notion of identity together.
The act of picking fruit at the weekends becomes a ritual, firmly engrained in community life.
Grow Local, Pick Local
If you already have the GIY ‘Grow it Yourself’ bug then pick-your-own farms that offer the chance to immerse yourself in the land will be right up your street.
Locally sourced food is the freshest kind you will find. Just consider the long distances traveled by food that reaches our supermarket shelves. Better tracking of our food supply chains will help us to understand the impact the origin of food has on our natural environments.
Another reason to canvas for a pick-your-own culture is to support local farmers and food lovers. By purchasing local food you are feeding the local economy ad helping to build a sustainable future for smaller farmers.
A major reason why I chose to write about local food, foraging and fixing our supply chains is to research the impact our food consumption is having on the environments where this food is sourced. Picking local and increasing our understanding of local food availability can help to reduce our carbon footprint and prevent unnecessary long-distance transportation of food.
Where to find pick-your-own farms
Pick-your-own farms are not very established in Europe. However, there is a growing interest in the development of rural tourism and green initiatives that encourage a newfound appreciation for locally grown produce. This list is not exhaustive but it does include a few key places that have established pick-your-own activities.
It’s June and the smell of Elderflowers is in the air. Summertime is the perfect time to celebrate flowers and the elderflower is simply delicious in almost any wild cocktail or drink so give it a try.
How will we cope with any scarcity of food in the future if we don’t learn about our sources of food today? There is an alarming amount of coverage about the adverse effects of climate change on our eco-system. There are many ways that our food production could change in the future and climate change could have a severe impact in the foods that we already consume today.
It has been reported that our oceans are absorbing much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions and this is damaging our coral reefs which are key breeding grounds for our marine life. Where will our fish go to survive? And with the pressure on farmers to pivot away from traditional beef farming where will we source or meat from?
Now isn’t the time to panic, its the time to plan and make some food choices that will help us to better understand the foods around us.Of course there are innovators coming up with brilliant solutions and there are farmers schemes like CSA’s that are re-imagining modern farming but we could also take a closer look at the forgotten, often ignored food sources, such as weeds. This week we present foraging as one way to substitute some of our key ingredients.
A series of freak climate events in the 1870s caused a Global drought that resulted in the death of millions of people. In India it was known as the Great Famine. The most significant climate event was El Nino of 1877 where warm waters released heat into the air creating storms. In addition to the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Atlantic recorded higher temperatures than normal.
Today, we rarely find famines in the developed world. The majority of famines hit places where organisations cannot enter and trade issues are hurting local people. However, with all of these climate unknowns in front of us we must be prepared to take action in the case of a climate crisis. Eating local and community supported agriculture, known as CSA’s, have become trendy in recent years.
We hear about many people adopting sustainable agricultural practices and promoting community food initiative. They are not just farming enthusiasts but socially engaged individuals who enjoy spending time outdoors and learning about the land around them. A few examples to look up include Juniper Hill Farms and Moy Hill Farms. These farming communities should be admired for the innovative approach to farming. They also encourage the sharing of knowledge, which we love here at Orchards Near Me.
However, there are other opportunities if we decide to broaden our knowledge base and look at the traditional farming methods of nearby regions. It could be just as beneficial to learn about the foods coming from nearby resources. For example, in Europe we have many different climates that lead to the production of a wide variety of food species. In a time of crisis wouldn’t it be great to know what foods could your neighbours offer as a substitute if you run out? We believe this is all about immersive farming education and understanding the role of nature in the production of food.
Chefs from around the world, often privileged and guys that are striving for their next Michelin star love to travel to learn about other food cultures. We think the general public can also get it on this interesting past-time. Learning about the ancient art of crushing grapes in France or discovering why bee keeping is a national tradition in Slovenia or why the warm summer days of Bulgaria led to the popular cold soup of Tarator are ways to preserve traditions and carry them into the future.
Food is closely linked with the weather and geography of a region or country. Traditional dishes often reflect the mood associated with the climate. The proximity to the wild atlantic coast makes Portugal heaven for fish lovers and the cultivation of fruits and olives makes Greece a mecka for salad eaters.
If we begin to understand the landscapes around us and how they are affected by the climate we can better educate ourselves in food production and regain knowledge of how our ancestors used wild plants and integrated them into their dishes. Although large corporations have successfully harvested key ingredients for human consumption and distributed major crops around the world, it is also worth knowing about the lesser known and lesser used crops that can act as substitutes if the time comes when we need them too. This is one of the reasons why we encourage foraging and learning about the wild plants around you.
There is enough food to feed the masses as long as we teach ourselves about the food sources available to us and re-train our palettes so that we can adapt dishes to include some wild flavours.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From culinary treats to wine enthusiasts to local foods, we have put together our list of top food adventures for food and nature lovers.
Europe is full to the brim of exciting foods to try. From the vineyards of Italy to the shellfish on the Wild Atlantic Way, every food tour is unique and bursting with flavours.
Treat yourself to a taste of Europe with these amazing food adventures for summer time.
A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast Food Experience Find yourself rambling along the Wild Atlantic Way to get a taste of the stunning landscapes of Ireland on this 5 day foodie experience. The sheep will greet you as you discover the green landscapes and walk the coastal tracks in some of the most peaceful locations on the Island. Get a taste of the Craic agus Cheoil, stopping into the local pub along the way. This tour is ideal for small groups and we guarantee that you will learn a thing or two from the local foraging experts before you finish.
Hunting for Truffles in Northern Italy A perfect combination of romance and luxury, this Italian tour will enlighten your taste palette. Starting in Alba, renowned for it’s world famous white truffles, you will join the local food experts as we hunt for truffles in the lush countryside of Italy. Finish each day with a traditional meal and enjoy a slice of luxury with this unique tour. If you are a pizza, pasta or wine enthusiast than this is the perfect foodie experience for you.
From breathtaking beaches to walking by the cliff edges, the Algarve is one of our favourite sun soaked locations in Europe. The natural landscape remains relatively untouched and there is a distinct feel of local pride for everything that the region has to offer. Sample the local wines, learn the skills of wine making and taste the famous bacalau.
Northern Portugal is packed full of wonderful foodie treats. On this unique food adventure you will get to taste the grapes, sample the wines and try delicious local cuisine in the famous Douro Valley region.
On this foodie experience you will team up with local wine and foraging experts. They will teach you how to hunt for truffles and you will have the chance to sample the rich, local wines. Visit the magical city of Dijon int the heart of Burgundy where you can taste the best local dishes in Michelin starred Pre aux Clercs Restaurant. You can also visit the Fontenay Abbey and the spectacular Chateau Ancy-le-Franc. You are in a country rich in history so be sure to soak in the past.
Contrary to belief you don’t need to be part of any elite group to enjoy a sip or two of some of Europe’s finest wines. Wine tasting has never been more accessible with so many delicious grape varieties to choose. However, there are some tips from the wine experts that will help you to develop your wine palette and understand the different flavours that the top wines product.
If you are not a professional Sommelier or wine expert then you may find it difficult when choosing the right variety of wine to pair with your food for your next dinner party. Remember that people have different tastes so you might not please everyone but you can give it a good try.
Before you decide on your wines decide what you would like to showcase the most. If you are trying to highlight your best dish, showing off all of the ingredients then you won’t want to pick a wine that over powers the meal. Where as if you selecting a wine as a pairing for a cheese board you may want to get a more full bodied wine that compliments the cheese.
TIPS FOR PAIRING WINE AND FOOD CORRECTLY Store wine in a cool, dark place. If you are trying a dish originating from a region see if there is a local wine to pair with it. As the saying goes, what grows together, stays together! For wines high in acidity, avoid bitter ingrediants and focus on foods high in fat. In general the wine should be sweeter than the food. Pinot grigio for light fish dishes and Chardonnay for rich fish dishes with sauce.
DO PAIR Chianti and Pasta dishes Zinfandel or Malbec and BBQ Sauvignon Blanc and Goats Cheese Pinot Noir and Roast chicken dishes
DON’T PAIR Pinot Noir and red sauced pasta dishes (bolognese, lasagne) Spicy food with strong wines Champagne and cake (sweet plus bubbles is generally a no no)
Ideal Serving Temperature for Wine
The best temperature for red wine is 62-68 degrees. The best temperature for white wine is 49-55 degrees.
HOW TO TASTE WINE IN 7 EASY STEPS
Look – It should be clear. For reds, the darker the better. A visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting
Swirl – Release the aroma, the bouquet
Sniff – Give your nose a boost of flavour
Sip – Let the wine sit in your mouth. Don’t swallow.
Breathe – Take a deep breath and give the wine aromas a chance to fill your senses.
Swig – Now it’s time to take a bigger gulp and enjoy a full taste of the wine.
Savour – Develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long term memory.
TOP 3 WINE FLAVORS TO ENJOY
Fruit flavors (e.g. peach, blackberry, plum, current) Herbal flavors (e.g. bell pepper, mint, oregano) Flower flavors (e.g. roses, lavender, iris)
Foodie lovers from around the world will be familiar with the famous truffles that we find featured on luxury menus of high end restaurants. Both black and white truffles are highly sought after in the culinary world and considered a rare treat when brought from the land to the table.
Truffles are a type of fungus that grow on or alongside the roots of trees like beech and oak trees. If we didn’t need anymore reasons to start planting more trees, now we have another one. Expert Foragers in Europe hold onto the tradition of hunting for truffles with pigs and dogs who are trained as expert truffle hunters. In Italy, they have banned pigs from hunting for these delicies as they have a tendancy to eat them.
Truffle Hunting Experiences
We offer two amazing truffle hunting experiences, hunting for burgundy truffles in the french countryside and hunting for the famous white truffles in Northern Italy. These unique experiences will give you a chance to learn from the experts, explore the regions and taste this wild produce from the ground around us.
What does a truffle taste like?
Having tasted a few different versions I can report that truffles have a pungent smell and flavour. Enjoy the earthy aroma, perfectly paired with the burgundy full bodied reds and adding an extra punch to the fresh pasta of Italy. If you have tried and liked the taste of black olives than you may appreciate the humble truffle.
Easy Truffle Pasta Recipe
Fresh Linguine Pasta
To get a taste for Truffle Hunting in Europe please feel free to contact one of our travel specialists.
This Chocolate dipped orange peel recipe is inspired by Spain and it has to be the perfect party snack for fruit and nature fans. In addition to being super delicious orange peels are the perfect healthy snack.
We stumbled upon this sweet treat in the beautiful spanish town of Sevilla. Famous for it’s juicy oranges and groves dotted throughout the landscape. This region of Spain forces you to reconnect with the produce around you. In cobbled streets and buzzing restaurants you will find local foods, freshly grown from the nearby fields.
Now for our super simple orange peel recipe that not only delights your guests but save you throwing away the peels too.
Seville oranges 450g
Chocolate (plain or dark will do) 200g
Slice the peel from the flesh, being sure to keep as much of the pith as possible. Slice it into strips. Put in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over the hot bowl of boiling water.
Dissolve the sugar in water over a low heat.
Mix the syrup and the chocolate together gently and add the peel.
Cook and stir gently for around 30 minutes or until the syrup is mostly absorbed.
Decorate them with zigzags and drippings of the chocolate for an extra touch of party-time.
ADULTS ONLY: Add a splash or two of rum to the syrup mixture to give it an alcoholic kick.
Pick the pieces out with tongs and drain on a rack over a dish. Don’t throw away the remaining syrup.
This tasty easy orange peel recipe will impress friends and give you a fun weekend activity in the kitchen.
So, why are orange peels good for you? The peel is said to contain Vitamins A, B and C as well as plenty of calcium and iron that we can stock up on for winter. Also, citrus peels contain Limonene which can be found to reduce the skin cancer. A study published by Nutrition and Cancer in 2000 found that people without skin cancer consumed significantly more citrus fruits. However, we must be mindful when eating any fruit and choose organic fruit as much as possible. Fruit that isn’t labelled organic may be grown with chemicals that can have a negative effect. For the most health benefits always choose to buy organic.
Would you like to get a taste of the Portuguese cuisine at its best? Everywhere in the world has dishes that connect the people to the land and bring us closer to the culture of a region. Getting a taste for the local flavours with some delicious dishes is one of the top ways to get to know a country and its history. Here are our top 6 must-try foods in Portugal:
The Portuguese version of the famous Spanish tapas, these mouthwatering bites are the perfect accompliment to a local beer or glass of Vinho Verde on the day by the harbour in Porto. Try the Bolinhos de Bacalhau (mini fish balls), presunto (a local traditional ham), Salada de polvo (octopus salad), Caracóis (tiny snails of the sea).
This traditional Portuguese soup translates to green broth and it eaten throughout the year. You will find it as a staple on most restaurants in portugal. When you taste it you will get a real taste of the Portuguese countryside. Often eaten as a starter course this is the perfect way to get a flavour of Portuguese cuisine. The main ingrediants include Kale, onion, garlic, potatoes and chorizo. Here’s a traditional Caldo Verde recipe from Portuguese Insider Tia Maria
More of a key ingrediant than a dish, Bacalhau is held close in the hearts of all locals in Portugal. Whether grilling it in the summer months or baking it in the winter, this fish is certainly on our list of must-try foods in Portugal.
Arroz de Tamboril
This dish also known as monkfish rice would be a savoured delicacy in other parts of the world but the readily available fish across the regions of Portugal make this a deliciously accessible meal. It is a traditional dish appreciated by locals. Key ingredients of Arroz de Tamboril includes monkfish, onion, cilantro, garlic, tomato, paprika and pepper.
Sopa de Cação
A heart warming soup filled with delicious vegetables that will fill you to the brim with energy. Yes please!
Ameijoas a bulhao Pato
Offered in most restaurant along the Atlantic coast of Portugal this is the perfect dish of shellfish on a summers day. Clam are cooked in oil, garlic, cilantro and a dash (or three) of white wine. Being so close to the sea it would be a shame not to sample the delicious seafood. Simply put this is a meal of cockles (clams) in a tasty white wine sauce. The secret is in the picking and the Portuguese shellfish farmers have made an art out of this. An extra benefit is that they are rich in fatty acids containing Omega 3 which has many health benefits.
Pastel De Natal
Last but not least the world famous Portuguese pastry of Pastel de Natal. This custard filled tart will have your mouth watering for days. Crispy on the outside, warm and creamy on the inside. What’s not to love? You will find these in bakeries and restaurants throughout Portugal. Each region has its own twist on the classic dish but all are delightful to eat.