wild food

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Springtime Foraging Tours 2020

Join us for a taste of the wild as we embark on unique adventures in Dublin and Wicklow for some Springtime foraging fun. We will enjoy learning about the land around us, getting a taste for foraging and making some new friends.

We are pleased to announce three public foraging tours for the coming months.

Friday 21st of Feb – Dublin

In February we will walk the trails, sample the wild food and discover the wild foods around us.

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Friday 6th of March – Dublin

In March we are planning our wild greens outing to the coast of Dublin where we pick some wild learns and get to know about the plant species living near the capital.

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Friday 13th of March – Wicklow

In the middle of March we will make our way to the heart of Wicklow where the mountains greet us and the forests house lots of hidden treasures for foragers to enjoy.

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We recommend that all participants bring a small picnic on the day as we will stop for a break to discuss the wild plants that we discover.

Some Foraging Rules:

  • Never taste anything that you cannot identify correctly
  • Wear gloves when picking
  • Never pick from the root as you will kill the plant
  • Always forage with a friend (preferably one who has knowledge of wild plant species).
  • Do not pick endangered species
  • Do not take more than you need

If you have any questions about your tour please contact one of our foraging team at info@orchardsnearme.com

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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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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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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.

Feel free to listen to the podcast version of this article on our YouTube channel

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

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The Top 10 Must Have Herbs

If it was up to us herbs we would live in herb paradise all year round. We love all herbs, great and small. The flavours, the smells and the nutrients that we get from herbs make them an irreplaceable part of our diet today. Herbs can transform the everyday meal into a special treat. The great thing about our renewed love for all things green is that our minds are curious and we are starting to really experiment with herb flavours.

List of the top 10 must have herbs for your kitchen

  1. Basil
  2. Thyme
  3. Mint
  4. Coriander
  5. Lavender
  6. Chamomile
  7. Sage
  8. Yarrow
  9. Rosemary
  10. Dill

BENEFITS OF HERBS

Here is why this list of herbs is extra special. Firstly, herbs pack a punch when it comes to flavouring our meals. They can help to cool things down, heat things up and balance our ingredients. Next, our list of herbs includes some native wild species that can be found close to home and we know that herbs also contain many essential vitamins and nutrients. We hope that you enjoy this herbtastic collection.

If you are in search for organic Irish herbs feel free to get in touch with us and we will connect you with the best herbal magic.

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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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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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Blackberry Season: Blackberry and Banana Smoothie Recipe

Detox and Delicious! This blackberry and banana smoothie is the perfect treat at the end of your foraging outings during the blackberry picking season. Packed with vitamin C, high in fibre and full of anti-oxidants you will have a refreshing fruit drink full of health benefits. Plus, the recipe is super easy!

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Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of Blackberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 cup of Natural Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of Natural Honey

Instructions

Wash your blackberries once you have picked them to remove any insects.

Peel the banana and mash it lightly with a fork.

Put the berries, banana, yogurt and 1 large teaspoon of honey into a bowl. Use a hand blender or any blender to mix the ingredients.

If you enjoy this super easy blackberry and banana smoothie recipe than you may like our wild tea recipe collection.

Enjoy! To learn more about our foraging adventures please contact the team. Happy Blackberry picking all.

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