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Podcast | Episode Seven | Fergus Halpin | Harvest Day

This week we sat down with Fergus Halpin of Harvest Day, a company that supports small-scale sustainable Irish farms by delivering their produce straight to your door, giving every household in Ireland the opportunity to eat seasonal, local and healthy produce.

 

Harvest Day was started by Fergus 12 onths ago in may 2020 and now delivers their organic farm boxes nationwide across Ireland. They are literally “the next best thing to shopping at the farmers gate”. What’s really special about these guys is how they are  committed to sustainable practices, work closely with nearly twenty small-scale organic and pesticide free farmers across Ireland. These include the likes of Larkin’s Hill Farm in Puckane, Co. Tipperary, Sprout Organic Farm in Rathcoffey, Co. Kildare and Jim Cronin’s sixteen-acre Organic Market Garden near Killaloe, Co. Clare.

 

Harvest Day give you absolute traceability of where you food comes from and even provide recipe ideas with every box on how to use your veg.

 

Click here to get free delivery on your first order use the code GGW at checkout. 

Podcast | Episode Six | Wild Food Mary | Foraging Expert

On this episode we talk to Wild Food Mary, a foraging expert based in Birr, County Offaly.

 

This conversation is wide ranging and covers everything from the mythical elements of wild food rituals, sustainable living, how you will always be connected when you are in nature, Wim Hof breathing,  and Mary’s wild food life. 

 

Sustainability and connection with nature is a theme throughout many of these podcast episodes and that is echoed in this again. 

 

Wild Food Mary is wild food chef, forager and educator who hosts foraging workshops or private forays throughout the year in the midlands of Ireland. 

 

I can speak to her amazing hospitality and if you’re lucky enough you might even get your hands on one of her very rare but equally precious wild food liqueurs

 

To sign up to one of Mary’s workshops or make a trip of it and stay with her (I couldn’t recommend this enough!) then click here. 

Spruce Tips | Spring’s Secret Immune Booster

Go on any walk or hike during spring and you will start to notice small light-green tips on the conifers. These are spruce tips, the new tree growth which are edible and delicious.

 

What Are Spruce Tips?

 

Spruce tips are the fresh spring growth found on particular evergreen trees called spruce, pine, or fir. You can spot them at the end of the spruce branches. They are bright green in colour and stand apart from the dark green needles of the older branches.

 

Different Spruce Tree Species

 

There are a number of different species in this tree family and as you might expect, the needles of each have a different taste. It’s important to know that no species of spruce is poisonous so you can rest easy and nibble on tips till you find your favourite species. The Forager Chef recommends White Spruce, Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce as by far his favourites types to cook with. So why not try them first? After all, he is an expert in cooking with wild food.

 

When To Harvest Spruce Tips

 

If you are thinking of foraging spruce tips it’s important not to pick too many from a single tree, as you’re removing the new growth. Try to forage from older, stronger trees where possible. Harvesting Fir tips is one of the most sustainable and delicious activities you can do in spring. Have your container at the ready (you may even need a bucket for big trips). It can get very prickly at times so you might consider wearing gardening gloves, or get used to a few stings every now and again. A very small price to pay for how good these are. Top Tip: Try to discard the the brown, paper-like casings before you pluck tips from the branch.

 

The Benefits of Spruce Tips

 

Traditionally boiled in water to make tea, the tips of spruce are high in Vitamin C and have long been used as a herbal remedy to help with flu symptoms like coughs or a sore throat. Additional nutrients found in every single tree are

 

  • Carotenoids: Enhance the immune system
  • Potassium: Good for the muscles and the nervous system
  • Magnesium: Helps to regulate blood pressure and strengthen bones
  • Chlorophyll: Stimulates the immune system

 

Who knew that one of nature’s best immune fighters was hidden in fir trees and could be foraged for free? Luckily, more people than ever are relearning this forgotten traditional knowledge.

 

Spruce Tip Recipes

 

The season is short to eat fresh spruce tips so why not try using them in wild food recipes or preserves? We have gathered some of our own ideas and recommendation form other articles to try spark your imagination and stock up your pantry.

 

  • Spruce Tip Syrup: Try this recipe from The Forager Chef where he infuses the needles in a simple syrup.
  • Spruce Tip Cookies: The backyard forager recommends cookie lovers try a quick and easy shortbread cookie recipe.
  • Spruce Beer: Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a great spruce beer recipe worth trying.
  • Spruce Salt: Upgrade your salt with this idea from Edible Alaska.
  • Candied Spruce Tips: Another recipe rom Lauri Constantino teaches you how to candy the tips.

 

When cooked, spruce needles turn brown and change flavour which is unappealing to most people. So using them raw in dishes or preserving them is great way to extend spruce tip season.

 

If preserves are too much to take on you can easily season pastas, soups, deserts and salads by sprinkling a few dried or fresh needles on them.

 

Remember to tag @GoGatherWild in your foraging pictures on social media.

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Morel Mushroom Guide | Everything You Need To Know

It’s spring and Morel Mushroom season is here! The hunt is on as foragers and fungi lovers all over Europe and North America begin their frantic foray into nature to find these mysterious miracles. Watch out for shifting eyes and suspicious people with foraging bags on hikes as they may be closely guarding their secret Morel foraging locations. 
 
Mushroom hunting has its risks so if you are not completely sure which species of fungi you are collecting then do not eat them. If you are a beginner, we advise you accompany some experienced mushroom hunters to learn from before going out on your own. If you are not foraging on public lands then be sure to get permission first before going onto private property. 

Morel Mushroom Identification Tips

Ok, so you’ve decided to hunt for morels, now what’s next? Well, first you need to learn how to identify them safely.

Identifying wild mushroom can be intimidating at first but it’s really not as hard as you might think for certain varieties, especially when it comes to morels. Here’s our top identifying features of morels

 

  • Size: They are usually around six inches in height
  • Colour: Cream, yellow, tan, black
  • Appearance: The distinctive feature of this mushroom is its pointy brain-like hallow cap with a honeycomb like appearance

 

Warning: There are look-alikes called false morels which contain gyromitrin, a natural carcinogen which when consumed turns into poison in the body. The false morel do not have the honeycomb feature and are more wrinkled in appearance. Cutting the fungi in half will reveal more when identifying this species. 

Where is the best place to find morels?

Where to find morels is one the questions asked by every forager. No one knows for definite where morels will appear but they tend to favour specific tree roots, soil types, and mulch depending on your region. 

What side of the mountain do morels grow on?

When foraging you should try keep in mind which direction the land is facing. Slopes that face towards the south or west will be warmer earlier in the season than those facing north or east.

 

The warmer the soil temperature the better chance you have in the fungi lottery!

What trees do morels grow under?

While there are no guaranteed trees to look out for, you should try to learn how to identify the the most common tree species true morels are found under:

  • Elm Trees
  • Ash Trees
  • Apple Trees
  • Oak Trees

Our best tip is to search around dying or decaying elm trees or as the Mushroom Expert Bill O’Dea advised us, try the wood chippings around Aldi carparks. They seem to be prosperous locations throughout the UK and Ireland, from what we hear. 

What types of soil do morels like?

True Morels need moist soil that is well-drained and gets the sun. So a likely spot to find them will be on a south facing hill side close to a stream or river where the leaves have fallen. 

When to forage Morels

The question of when to forage for morels is a tough one to answer. The end of April to the start of May is when you will usually start finding these little fungi popping up out their hiding places. 

 

Keep an eye out for when wild garlic or ramsons start to flower, this can be a sign to check around the tree next to them for some black honeycomb shapes.

 

The temperature needs to have been consistently warm so the ground is about 10 Celsius or above. The best conditions are when humidity is high, the temperature is t-shirt and shorts weather and the ground has warmed up. Depending on where in the world you are this can be mid-march, or if you’re in the UK and Ireland it’s likely to be early to mid May.

 

Usually you find the black morels first, then the yellow morels about 2-4 weeks after that. 

 

A good tip in the UK is to keep an eye out for St George’s mushrooms around St. George’s Day. When you start to see mushroom hunters putting these into their baskets you will likely start to find black morels as well. 

How to Cook With Morels

Renowned the world over for their flavour, morels are a seasonal delight that both home and professional chefs adore. They are perfect for a seasonal wild mushroom pasta or to accompany other meatier dishes in spring. 

 

Preparing morels is similar to most fungi, simply remove the obvious debris (twigs, grass, dirt etc.) that you can see and soak in salt water for 20 minutes to get rid of any insects that might have moved into the creases. After that, dry them on a paper towel and cut them in half length ways to clean the inside (also a double check for identification here). 

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Podcast | Episode Five | Terri Ann Fox | River Run Ferments

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On this episode we talk to Terri Ann Fox of River Run Ferments about fermentation, making sauerkraut, making sourdough, koji, miso and fermenting with kids. 

 

Terri Ann is the founder River Run, a fermentary and wood fired micro Bakehouse located on our family homestead in Glencree Co. Wicklow. They specialise in sourdough breads, koji based ferments, seasonal vegetable ferments of all kinds, and plant based cheeses.

 

They host regular fermentation and sourdough workshops both in person and virtually. You can learn about everything they do by clicking here

Podcast | Episode Four | Michael Kelly | Grow It Yourself

On this episode of the podcast we talk to Michael Kelly, a community food growing expert, whose organisation Grow It Yourself (GIY) empowers people to grow their own food.

Michael founded GIY in 2008 after 10 years in IT. It all started from growing garlic in his garden and now it has grown to empowering hundreds of thousands of people to grow their own food in their homes, workplaces or schools. 

The Grow Cook Eat Book

This book on growing vegetables from GIY features seasonal recipes from over 35 of the biggest names in food, including Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Dylan McGrath, Donal Skehan, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Neven Maguire, Clodagh McKenna and many more.

Packed with advice on setting off on your food growing journey; Grow Cook Eat includes everything you need know from what to do in the veg patch each month, and seasonal recipes to turn your produce in to delicious home-grown meals. 

Watch Grow Cook Eat

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Podcast | Episode Three | Bill O’Dea | Mushroom Expert

On this episode of the Go Gather Wild Podcast we have Bill O’Dea of mushroomstuff.com. He is one of Ireland’s foremost mushroom experts and regularly brings groups out on foraging trips throughout Killruddery House in Wicklow, Ireland. 

Throughout the show we talk about beginner mushroom tips, mushroom festivals, the microbiome, surprising uses of mushrooms like a lion’s mane tea and lots more.

Meet Bill

Bill O’Dea is a dedicated Irish mycologist who has a passion for mushrooms like no other. Bill studied fungi at University College Dublin and has taken groups on mushroom hunts both at home and abroad since 1996. He has appeared on national news and his mushroom hunts have even been named in the top 10 events of the year by the Sunday Business Post. Bill O’Dea has shared his expert knowledge with everyone from chefs to universities and he is now kindly sharing it with us at Go Gather Wild.

bill odea irish mushroom foraging expert

Podcast | Episode Two | Cúán Greene | Founder of Ómós

This week on the show we chat to Cúán Greene, founder of Ómós. Cúán is an Irish chef who has previously worked in the world renowned restaurant NOMA. He is passionate about fostering a mindful food community through his newly founded Ómós. Join us as we talk about all things foraging, hear stories about what it’s like to work in NOMA and the emerging craft renaissance developing in Ireland.

Cúán Greene is one of Ireland’s most interesting chefs. Formerly of NOMA, four time best restaurant in the world, and former Head Chef of Bastible, an Irish restaurant that was gaining great notoriety before COVID. 

He is redefining what it means to experience food in Ireland, whether it’s through the finest pop-up food experiences like a cosmic taco box or his unique passion for celebrating Irish local food and heritage crafts with his newly founded Ómós.

For the last two years running Cúán has been named on the Irish Times 50 people to watch and has even had the renowned food critic Jay Rayner write in the Guardian that it’s worth coming to Dublin just for his food alone.

This is a great episode, enjoy. 

Cuan Greene OMOS

One of the best books there is on fermentation was created by Noma, where Cúán used to work. Fermentation is one of the foundations behind Noma’s extraordinary flavour profiles. Now René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of noma, and David Zilber, the chef who runs the restaurant’s acclaimed fermentation lab, share never-before-revealed techniques to creating Noma’s extensive pantry of ferments. Click here to learn more

Podcast | Episode One | John Wright of River Cottage

For the first episode of the Go Gather Wild podcast series I was delighted to talk to John Wright. John’s one of my biggest inspirations and his books have been a constant companion along my foraging journey. 

Our chat covers everything from easy to make foraging mistakes to making your own Yarrow Gin, a recipe we’re keen to give a go… Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on wherever it is you do your listening. 

John Wright from River Cottage foraging expert

Welcome to episode one of the Go Gather Wild Podcast. In our first series we will hear from experts across the UK and Ireland in foraging on wild food.

To Launch the series we have John Wright from River Cottage. John is an expert on wild food and the author of the River Cottage Handbooks Mushrooms, Edible Seashore, Hedgerow, Booze and also The Naming of the Shrew. 

John Wright is a member of the British Mycological Society and a Fellow of the Linnaean Society. You can connect with him on Twitter or head over to his website Edible Bush

Buy John's Foraging Books

The Forager's Calendar

Month by month, John shows us what species can be found and where, how to identify them, and how to store, use and cook them. You’ll learn the stories behind the Latin names, the best way to tap a Birch tree, and how to fry an ant, make rosehip syrup and cook a hop omelette. 

Edible Seashore

For the forager, the seashore holds surprising culinary potential. In this authoritative, witty book John Wright takes us on a trip to the seaside.

Hedgerow

Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods – these hold a veritable feast for the forager. In this hugely informative and witty handbook, John Wright reveals how to spot the free and delicious pickings to be found in the British countryside, and how to prepare and cook them.

Mushrooms

In this book John takes us through the 72 species we are most likely to come across during forays in Britain’s forests and clearings: old friends the Chanterelle and Cep, as well as a whole colourful host of more unfamiliar names – edible species including the Velvet Shank, the Horn of Plenty, the Amethyst Deceiver, the Giant Puffball and the Chicken in the Woods, and poisonous types such as the Sickener, the Death Cap and the Destroying Angel.

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Foraging In March: wild food and recipes to discover

Before you go picking up anything in your path, stop and think of this: do you know what you are looking for? Take only what you need, make sure not to damage the roots and leave some for others to find, don’t leave any waste behind you. 

If you are new to foraging, make sure to keep a good foraging guide with you at all times. Make sure you know the plant you are picking, and if in doubt, leave it out. It is better to be safe than sorry when looking for wild plants. You can get your journey started by reading our blog on the best foraging books here.

Now that we have got that covered let’s find out what to forage in March. March is the end of winter and the start of spring. While many believe this month has not much to offer for foraging, we know for a fact that this month is as good as any for foragers.

Pro tip: Bring a pair of foraging gloves and a foraging knife or scissors on your next foraging trip; your hands and fingers will thank us.

Foraging wild nettles in March

wild nettles

Wild Nettle is found in abundance in March. It packs as much Iron in as spinach does. Interestingly, it is a great source of Vitamin A, D and lots of other minerals. 

Wild Nettle starts growing in February; by March, it is ready to pick and eat. Once you’ve experienced its unique taste, you will keep coming back for more, and luckily it is available till late June, so Bon Appetite!

Wild Nettle Recipes

You can use Nettles as spinach or make a cup of nice nettle tea that has Iron, formic acid, silicic acid, and more. Nettles are healthy and tasty. For an even better taste, pick the smaller new leaves on top of the plant as you would with spinach or salad. 

For the adventurous kind why not try making a risotto using Nettle and Sorrel. If you are less adept in the kitchen Nettle soup is also easy to make and just as delicious.

While you can find nettles almost anywhere, please avoid foraging nettle near petrol stations, industrial areas, and on the roadsides.

Foraging Wild Garlic In March

Garlic has many uses when it comes to cooking, when added to most dishes it can make anything taste better. You can forage wild garlic throughout Britain and Ireland in mixed woodland during March, and you cannot mistake its plant. 

The unique shape of its leaves and its distinct aroma is enough to make it stand out in the wild. Unlike regular garlic, you will use its leaves. 

The leaves of wild garlic pack lots of vitamins and minerals and pair best with mashed potatoes to flavour the butter, and even you can use it to season your fish dishes.

Wild Garlic Recipes

Being milder than the garlic bulbs that you would used for cooking, you can add some leaves to your omelette to make them taste even better, try chopping and crushing some wild garlic leaves into the eggs, and thank us later. 

Try pairing wild garlic with salads or preserve it in olive oil to be used whenever needed as a salad dressing or to lift a fish dish to another level.

Foraging Chickweed

Chickweed is yet another gift to foragers in March. Its leaves are tasty and can be eaten in salads, or you can make a delicious chickweed pesto. Chickweed plants thrive only in colder months, so make sure you pick it before the temperature starts to rise.

Chickweed is considered to have medicinal properties and is primarily used for skin treatment in Chinese medicine. You can use Chickweed to flavor your sandwiches and wraps or it can be used and cooked as Spinach as well. It packs a lot of vitamins like A, C, and B and a bunch of minerals as well.

As with all foraging, please be extra careful when you pick chickweed. Do not pick more than you need because it doesn’t keep well in either the fridge or freezer. Use it or lose it within a day or two max.

Foraging Miners' Lettuce

History tells us that miners use to forage this lettuce long ago and would eat it raw. Miner’s lettuce is rich in Vitamin C and tastes best when eaten raw or mixed with other greens. It can be used to make sandwiches as well. 

Although it grows within the cracks in roads, we recommend not picking in locations where it is contaminated with pollution or pesticides.

Foraging sorrel in March to substitute lemon

Common or garden sorrel can be found in almost all grasslands throughout Britain and Ireland in March and April. Primarily it is used for flavouring. 

It is an excellent substitute for lemons because of its naturally tangy flavour. You can use its leaves either in Salad or make an excellent soup with sorrel as well. 

To really make your food pop, chop up some of the leaves and add them to your favourite salads or soups.

Foraging is an excellent activity. It helps you go outdoors, exercise, take in all that fresh air and helps to develop a connection with the food you’re eating. 

So this March go out and pick some of the nicest wild foods that can only be found in your local parks and not in the supermarket.