foraging

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The Forager: A Collection of abstract Wild Food NFTs

Wild, locally grown food is there to be discovered and cherished by everyone. Foraging brings us all a little closer to the natural world around us. A sustainable future may be more tangible than we currently imagine it to be. 

For me this NFT collection is about bringing the old me into the new me, bridging the worlds that I love: technology and nature, to raise awareness of the abundance of wild foods patiently waiting to be discovered. From the woodlands to the sea, we gather, we chatter, we roam. I have used AI to design wonderous art from a series of high definition photographs taken whilst foraging. Most of the photographs

I currently write about the world of Web3 and how blockchain technology is going to change the future. One of the ways that I hope to see this happen is by offering more traceability of our food systems. It is easy to see that our relationship with food is broken but we have the power to fix it and we only need to start investigating to find the answers.

VIEW THE FORAGER NFTS HERE

Orchards Near Me began as a passion project in Canada after a weekend fruit picking in the Okanagan. Rambling from orchard to vineyard and back to the campsite I was completely inspired by the real connection with the land. When I returned to Ireland I vowed to keep that connection with the outdoors alive. On a cycling trip in the Tuscan mountains near San Miniato I discovered Massimo and his truffle hunting dogs. This is where I first learned about the Italian truffle hunters and their love affair with the seasons best produce. The beauty of the truffle foragers is that they don’t manipulate the production as we find with mass producing farms across the world. They are patient, familiar with the time the earth needs to restore before offering up its most treasured truffle bounty.

Again, inspired by the In Ireland, I started a small tour company to bring people on wild food adventures. It didn’t pay the bills but was by far the most gratifying way to spend a morning with new friends. We would walk unbeaten trails learning about the wild foods around us, sipping homemade huckleberry tea and eating fresh raspberry jam. When the pandemic hit, the foraging tours were cancelled and the world seemed bleak but I knew that the fire had been lit in my mind and now that I was aware there was no way of going back. A lifelong quest to fix the food system must be madness but education in tangible, writing is achievable and so here I am. 

Foraging for wild food teaches patience, durability, awareness, pleasure and connectedness. It gives gifts of various edible plant species throughout the year but a forager must be kind to mother nature to receive the precious gifts on offer. 

Foraging for wild foods isn’t simply a past time, it is a way of life, a way of connecting with the natural world as it intended us too, a way of appreciating the abundance of nature and the constant replenishment of the forests with each new season. 

My absolute favourite times are the beginning of Springtime when you walk through dense oak forests only to be greeted by the pungent small of wild garlic and then stumble upon a carpet of the deepest green, delicious leaves covering the forest floor around you or another favourite is looking up on a wonderous trail through a mixed wood forest in late summer only to find green walnuts. Pickled green walnuts are something of a delicacy and should be treasured by all foodie lovers.  

This collection of NFTs is a representation of some of my favourite wild foods, including: Sweet Chestnuts, Blackberries, Pineapple weed, Green Walnuts, Spruce Tips, Gorse, Sea Radis, Seabeat, Orach, Turkey Tail Mushroom, Winter Chanterelles, Jelly Ear Mushroom, Penny Buns, Rosehips, Birch Nuts, Amanita, Dandelions, Thistles, Wild garlic and many other wild herbs straight from the parks, forests and coasts of Ireland. 

WHERE: ARTMINE STUDIO

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What foods can be Foraged in Springtime?

Discover the natural Spring flavours from the forests and coasts. Foraging in Springtime is a great way to get to know the plants around you. Whether you want to broaden your palette or simply get a taste of the woods, foraging is a great way to get a taste of the outdoors. Dandelions, Wild Garlic, Sea beet and Chickweed are just a few of the many tasty plants that you will find in grassy patches during the months of Spring.

Lets get to know where to find, how to pick and how to prepare a few of our favourite edible plants at this time of the year.

Sea Beet

This wild green edible plant is easy to find by the coast. Boil it or steam it to get the best flavour. It is known as the cousin of spinach and packed full of nutrients. Look out for glossy, bright green leaves on your next coastal walk.

Cow Parsley

Look out for fern like leaves when foraging for cow parsley. This plant grows tall just before the summer months. It likes the shade and grassy areas. You will find umbrella like bunches of tiny white flowers on the tip. Dont pick cow parsley if you can’t identify it as it is often mistaken for more poisonous plants such as hemlock.

Wild Garlic

Also known as ramsons, you might smell this plant before you see it if you are wandering in the woods in springtime. In May it is very easy to identify with it;s pointy small white petaled flowers. Common uses for wild garlic include making homemade wild garlic pesto, chopping it into salads and adding it to soups to give an extra punch of flavour.

Elderflower

If you live near any organic fruit store or hipster cafe you may have stumbled upon Elderflower cordial or better yet Elderflower champagne. This fragrant plant comes bursting to life at Springtime. Usually found in hedgegrows, on the banks of rivers and in wild wooded areas, it is easy to identify. All you need to make homemade elderflower cordial is a little bit of patience as it takes time for the mixture to set. Find our tried and tested recipe here.

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Dandelions

The health benefits of dandelions are now widely recognised. Containing plenty of antioxidants and vitamins this may be the most undervalued commonly found plant. This humble yellow flowers are often a source of pain for gardeners who like to keep their gardens clear of wild weeds. However dandelions are rich in pollen and nectar that feed the bees so try to hold off on mowing your lawn the second that spring arrives. To get your weekly does of dandelion, use it is a hot pot of tea or add the petals to your salads.

Nettles

Often feared for their stinging abilities, nettles are full of nutrition when picked at the right time of year. Most parks and wooded areas will have patches of nettles hanging around together in large crowds. They are rich in Vitamins C and K and contain more iron than spinach. Try this heart warming nettle soup recipe to get acquainted with this edible plant.

Linden Leaves

These nutrient packed leaves come from Linden trees. It has massive heart-shaped leaves with fragrant flowers that can be eaten fresh or dropped into any wild tea recipe. They are said to have relaxing properties like chamomile. Young Linden Leaves are a sweet addition to salads in spring and summertime.

If you have any plants to tell us about we would love to hear from fellow fruit and foraging enthusiasts.

Wild Recipe: Elderflower and Lime Granita

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.

Elderflower & Lime Granita Recipe

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

Pour the sugar into a pot of cold water, bring it to the boil, stirring slowly as you let the sugar dissolve.

Leave the mixture to cool. Time to add the elderflower cordial, gin and lime juice.

Stir well and freeze for an hour.

After an hour, remove from the freezer and use a rolling pin to break up the ice into pieces, return to the freezer for 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer, add to tumblers and grate the lime zest over it.

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Is Orache Edible? Identify and Use Orache

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.

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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.

Orache Recipes

Orache Flatbread

Wild Orache Dip

Seafood and Orache Pho

 

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Wild Onion Focaccia Recipe

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.

Ingredients

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.

To Serve

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!

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Spring Cleaning: 5 Ways to Use Cleavers

Cleavers aka Sticky Willies aka Goosegrass is a herbal treat in Springtime.

It is an annual sticky plant that you will find in your parks and woodland walks. They have small star shaped flowers attached to their pointy leaves. If you brush up against it you won’t need to pick it as it will naturally stick to any piece of clothing.

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Traditionally used to cleanse the blood and strenghten the liver, cleavers are particularly useful for a spring cleaning tonic. Native Indian tribes used this plant as an anti-inflammatory and to help with gonorrhoea. The cleansing properties can help to get rid of toxins in the body and decrease congestion. It has also been reported to help with Urinary tract infections and swollen lymph nodes. They can help to protect the lining of the bladder from irritation. Cleavers are also rich in silica, used to strengthen hair, nails and teeth. It may be worth adding a little cleaver smoothie to your beauty routine in Springtime.

Ways to Use Cleavers

Cleaver infused Water

This is the perfect afternoon refresher on a bright Spring day. Pick the young stems of the plant before they growth tall. Rinse them gently under water and chop finely. Add to a jug or bottle of water and let them infuse over night in the fridge. Add a slice of lemon to your glass and pour over the infused cleaver water.

Cleaver and Nettle Smoothie

Cleavers, nettles and pears are all that you need to make this delicious, healthy Spring smoothie. Packed full of nutrition and made to detox the body, this delicious smoothie is just what the doctor ordered. Blend 1 bunch of cleavers, 1 bunch of boiled nettles and 2 pears together. Add crushed ice, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprig of mint for extra flavour.

Herbal Cleaver Tea

Harvest your cleavers, leave them dry out for a few days, cut them into tiny pieces and use them with a spoonful of honey for a soothing cup of tea.

Cleaver Infused Oil

Dried cleavers and almond oil makes the perfect massage therapy. Put a half a cup of dried cleavers in a jar, fill the jar with almond oil and leave to infuse for two weeks. Enjoy this herbal skin treat.

Cleaver, Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup

Tis the season for green, wild soup and there are plenty of delicious plants out there to add to your homemade soup recipes. For this one we use 1 cup of cleavers, 1 cup of boiled nettles, 1/2 cup of chopped wild garlic or three cornered leek and two large potatoes. Boil the potatoes, add all contents to a pot of cold water and boil until bubbling hot. Add salt and pepper. Blend the ingredients together. Serve with some fresh, warm bread.

Note: Cleavers have a high tannin content and it is generally advised that you don’t use it or consume it for long periods of time.

This plant is natures way of telling us that we need to Spring clean our bodies as well as our houses. There are so many ways to use cleavers in your foraging recipes but hopefully the above tips will give you some food for thought. This plant is one of the reasons why foraging in Springtime is so much fun.

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Wild Recipe: Delicious Dandelion Flatbread

This week we are foraging in the garden, using Spring weeds as the main ingredients in some of our daily dishes. Today we have a real recipe treat with easy garden weed flatbread.

Flatbread Ingredientseasy-garden-flatbread-recipe

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 50g of butter melted
  • 185 ml of milk

Flatbread Toppings

  • Dandelion Leaves
  • Nettle Pesto
  • Pine Nuts
  • Mozzarella
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

dandelion-garden-flatbread-recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Head out to the garden to collect your freshflatbread-toppings-orchards-near-mely grown dandelion leaves and a few dandelion heads to decorate. Be sure to wash them gently under luke warm water.
  2. Measure the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and baking powder.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over a low heat, once it is melted add the milk and remove from the hob.
  4. Make a whole in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.
  5. Gently mix all of the ingredients until it forms a sticky dough. Now knead the dough for 5 minutes and leave to the side in a bowl wrapped with cling film for 30 minutes.
  6. Once ready, divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll it out.
  7. Heat oil on a pan and gently fry the dough for 1 or 2 minutes. You should see pockets of air rise as you cook.
  8. Now you are ready to add your toppings and place in the oven.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with toppings for this delicious flatbread.

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Wild Recipe: Tempura Battered Dandelions

Dandelion (aka Taraxacum officinale)

Today we are cooking tempura battered dandelions, a real Springtime treat. Famous as a garden weed, this yellow headed plant isn’t often noted for its fantastic healing properties but dandelions are a real gift from nature.

They are a natural anti-inflammatory, used in skincare to treat anti-aging and has a long history as a medicinal plant since the 11th century. Dandelions can provide a welcome boost to your immune system in Springtime. All parts of this special weed are edible. Today the root is used as a trendy substitute for coffee.springtime-foraging-wild-garlic-and-dandelions

Try this delicious recipe to add some freshly washed dandelions to your diet.

Tempura Battered Dandelions

What you will need: Freshly Foraged Dandelion heads (aim for between 15 – 20).

Batter Ingredients

  • 1 Large Egg
  • 125 g Plain Flour
  • 250 ml/1 Cup of very cold water or sparkling water

Aioli Dipping Sauce

  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 4 Tablespoons of White wine vinegar
  • 120 ml Olive oil
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt

STEP 1
Prepare the batter. The key here is making sure that the water is very cold. Leave it in the freezer for a 2 or 3 minutes if you want. Add the egg to the water, now gently mix in the flour with a spoon until smooth.Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, deep saucepan or deep fat fryer to 180’c.

STEP 2tempura-battered-dandelions
Prepare the Dandelion heads by gently washing them, removing the stem and leaves. Pat them dry before using them.

STEP 3
Before you start cooking your flowers, prepare your aioli sauce. Mince the garlic, mix the egg yolk and vinegar, whisk in the olive oil, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

STEP 4
Now is the exciting part. Heat a large portion of vegetable oil in a pot or wok. (Note: Never leave a pan of oil heating alone. Stay with the cooker until you are finished). Sprinkle your dandelion heads with flower, dip into the batter and drop into the hot oil for 2 minutes until they are golden brown. Only do a handful each time.

STEP 5
Sit back and enjoy this super weed snack.

To start planning your foraging adventures you can download a copy of our Foraging Workbook Planner here.

If you have any recipe tips or foraging knowledge to share we would love to hear from you.

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Wild Food Recipe: Alexander Spring Rolls

These delicious snacks are a super healthy way to use your recently foraged treats and some of your staple fridge vegetables.

Alexanders are ripe for picking from April to June. These wonderful wild edible plants pop up everywhere. You will find them growing in park edges, forest edges and near coastal regions. It tastes like a mixture of celery and parsley, making it the perfect pairing for stir-fry’s and a lot of Asian dishes. If you are a vegetarian then you will welcome this addition to your vegetable list.spring-rolls-foraging

Try boiling the stems and leaves and making a substitute for pepper from the flower heads. The seeds are spicy acting as a healthy addition to your spice rack. You will see that many chefs use the roots, roasting them with a little olive oil and salt (as you would normally do with roasted carrots and parsnips).

Here is our little Alexander recipe for you to try out at home.

Alexander Spring Rolls

Spring Roll Wraps
2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of corn starch
3/4 cup of very cold water
1 heaped teaspoon of salt
Tip: Once you have combined the ingrediants to form your dough leave it to the side for 20 minutes while you prepare your filling.

Spring Roll Fillingspring-roll-filling-orchards-near-me
Finely Chopped Alexender Leave
Finely chopped Alexander stems (about a handful)
1 bunch of wild garlic leaves
Red Chilli
Finely chopped yellow onion
Yellow pepper sliced finely
Diced cucumber
3 Tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
Salt and Pepper

To Prepare

  • Gently saute the filling ingredients in a hot pan for 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl beat an egg.
  • Now make 8 dough balls from your wrapping mixture. Spend time rolling out each ball until it is as thin as you can get it.
  • Add the filling to the centre of your wrap.
  • Brush the rest of the inside with egg to help stick the wrap together and roll them up.

We hope that you have fun trying this wild recipe and sharing your Alexander Spring Rolls with friends.

To start planning your foraging adventures you can download a copy of our Foraging Workbook Planner here.

If you have been experimenting with foraged foods we would love to hear from you.

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Edible Invasive Plants and Biodiversity

As a keen forager, it is safe to say that I love all things wild food related, including the invasive species that climb onto, grow on and invade our native landscapes. When people see hear about my foraging adventures or join me for a trip outdoors, they are often worried if we are damaging the environment around us. I never claim to be an expert.

When it comes to wildlife, nobody is an expert. However, if you take the time to learn about the environment around you, the plants that grow in different seasons and the invasive plant species that are causing trouble than foraging for wild food and learning about the landscapes is the ideal way to brush up on your knowledge and avoid damaging the environment. If you would like to forage for wild foods go with somebody who knows their region, bring the right equipment and enjoy spending time outdoors.   

I have been following fellow foragers and food enthusiasts for a long time now and there are a few that have increased their focus on invasive plant species. So what are invasive plants, how can we identify them and how can we use them in our everyday lives? 

Invasive plants are introduced to their surroundings by foreign means and usually spreads generously around us. When they start to thrive they often cause harm to native eco-systems. Depending on your location you may be familiar with some non-native plant species. For instance, Japanese knotweed thrives in the woodlands and marshlands of Ireland. 

Here are just a few common invasive species you can find in Ireland:

Zebra mussels

Zebra Mussels can cause changes in water cycles and impact on the native mussels we love and the fish stocks. These guys originally come from Russia and the Ukraine. Many people won’t eat these mussels as they pick up pollutants easily. However, so does all shellfish so more research is needed here and they are used by chefs in some parts of the world. 

Sea Buckthorn

One of the hardest to pick but the sweetest taste if you can manage the picking. We finds lots of these berries spiking from their branches along the east coast shores of Ireland. Full of anti-oxidents and Vitamin C, this berry hangs around the shorelines of the UK, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These guys are considered an invasive species so pick away. 

Japanese Knotweed

It is highly likely that you have heard of or seen this invasive plant in a park nearby or even your neighbours garden.  It was first brought to Europe in the mid 19th century by a botanist. Japanese Knotweed grows at an incredible rate and is capable of significantly damaging properties as it can squeeze through gaps of concrete.

There are three methods that are commonly recommended for helping to prevent the spread of Japanese knotweed. You can either spray it with chemicals that will eventually damage the environment around the plant, you can choose to bury it so deep that the plant is prevented from growing up out of the ground again or you can burn it. A less known method for getting rid of this disturbing plant is eating it. Yes, knotweed is edible and tastes similar to rhubarb, maybe a little more sour in taste. Not all parts of the plant are edible. Eat the shoots in springtime before they get hard. Enjoy them in dessert dishes and experiments.

Chickweed

Chickweed is a commonly foraged plant in Europe and it is native to the region. It can be varied in appearance but once you identify as area of it you will see it appear in the same place each year. It’s oval shaped leaves grow in pairs and it is abundant in Springtime. Best eaten fresh and raw, it has a mild flavour. It is considered an invasive species and often plagues land owners in North America. Instead of tackling it with pesticides, try picking some for your salads. 

Garlic Mustard 

Considered an invasive herb in the US it can be found in forests and the edges of woodlands throughout the world. If you are based in the US or Canada than please feel free to go on the ultimate picking spree with this tasty plant. It takes over woodland spaecs and blocks the light and water resources from nature species. It grows on roadsides, forest edges and open forest floors. The young stems and leaves are delicious. They can be steamed with other vegetables to add a garlic mustard flavour or cut them up to add them to soups and salads. Garlic mustard pesto and hummus are great recipes too. Treat your dinner guests to a special dip with their chips.

Hairy Bittercress

This is a popular member of the mustard family and well known by foragers around the world. Tiny white flowers develop at the tip of the stems. The leaves and seeds are popular additions to salads and stir fry dishes. It is a welcome peppery flavour. Bittercress likes open, disturbed spaces and you will often find it popping up near the garden or along pathways. Like a lot of edible green weeds, the leaves from hairy bittercress wilt quickly so it is best to consume it fresh.

Purslane

This sweet wild treat comes into its own in the summer months. It contains fatty acids and vitamin E. It is known to help treat digestive and urinary issues. Purslane has thick purple stems. You will notice the small yellow flowers that sprout from the tips of the plant. It is an invasive plant in North America and had been used in traditional dishes and salads in the 18th century. 

Feel free to have a listen to this short invasive rant here!

Learn more about Invasive plants on one of our foraging adventures.

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