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Exploring Laver | Everything You Need to Know

Laver is a type of seaweed that can be found in cold, shallow waters. It has been used for centuries as an important part of traditional food across Asia, Ireland, Wales, and parts of England.

 

With its many health benefits, laver seaweed has become a staple food item for people who want to stay healthy. This blog will explore all you need to know about laver seaweed including what exactly it is, the different types of laver seaweeds, how to collect it, and laver recipes.

 

Varieties of Laver

 

Those new to seaweed foraging often find themselves asking is laver and seaweed the same? The answer is yes, it is a type of seaweed. Laver seaweed is in the seaweed family but there are different types of laver.

 

Purple Laver: One of the most common types, purple laver seaweeds are also known as Porphyra or Pterophyta and can be found in cold, shallow waters all around Ireland and Wales.

 

Green Laver: Another commonly used laver. Green laver can be found in the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea, and Arctic Ocean.

 

Stone Laver: Similar to the purple and green varieties, stone laver can be found in rock pools all around the UK, Scotland and Ireland.

 

Gim: Mistaken as a variety of laver, gim is actually Korean laver.

 

Now you know about the different varieties, let’s talk about why this seaweed is so popular in the first place.

 

Health Benefits

 

There are many seaweed laver health benefits. These seaweeds contain minerals, vitamins and other nutrients that not only offer a wide range of amino acids but also help to provide the body with selenium which is an ingredient required for good thyroid function.

 

Selenium, a compound found in laver or gim, may be beneficial in slowing down the onset of ageing as well as decreasing inflammation and boosting immune system response.

 

Eating seaweed can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 20% while lowering blood pressure and reducing tumor growth rates through their anti-cancer properties.

 

In Korea, gim (aka laver) is known to help with thyroid function, regulate menstruation, and helps with skin health.

 

Where to find laver

 

Laver can be found across the world but has been popular in the UK, Wales, Ireland and Korea for some time. when looking to collect it, try searching around large rocks, where the water moves slowly.

 

How do you harvest laver?

 

Collecting laver at low tide is best and easiest for an amateur collector. Laver needs to have washed up on shore in order to pick it up so heading out early morning or late evening when the tides are lower will increase your chances of finding some.

 

The first step is to be mindful not to pull the seaweed from the holdfast but use a foraging knife to cut it free after the holdfast.

 

Next have your bucket ready and begin. This seaweed can be very tedious to collect but it’s worth it. A mornings laver picking can set you up for weeks if you collect enough and prepare it correctly after harvesting.

 

How do you eat laver?

 

Laver seaweed has been eaten by humans since prehistory where archaeological evidence shows that people living on Orkney Islands ate large quantities of this type of seaweed as far back as 3000 BC.

 

Like all seaweed it can be eaten cold but It was often dried then ground into flour which could be used in porridge or ale bread recipes! The taste can vary with maturity but ranges between salty and peppery with an earthy flavour.

 

Laver can be eaten dried, toasted or stir-fried and has been used as an additive for centuries. It was often smoked with bacon fat which imparts a smoky flavour before being added into soups.

 

Laver Recipes

 

The most common use of this seaweed has been Laver bread. Becoming popular all over Ireland during the Great Famine, it is now is considered a part of a traditional welsh breakfast as well.

 

Laverbread is very dense and dark but tastes slightly salty with hints of smokey flavour.

 

To make laver bread start by boiling laver in water until it becomes soft enough to mash. Add a few scoops of oatmeal to help hold the shape.

 

Mix in salt and pepper then pour mixture onto an oven tray lined with baking parchment, olive oil, or greased with butter. Place it in an oven preheated at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, before removing from the oven and serving warm.

 

Some people even buy tinned laverbread but we recommend either making it yourself.

 

What else can you make?

 

In Wales, laver is used as an alternative to butter on toast or used in sandwiches. The most popular way to eat laver is fried with bacon, a dish that originated in Cornwall which was traditionally eaten during Lent.

 

A popular cooking method is to use it in a stir fry or eat it n a seaweed salad with some lemon juice squeezed over the top to provide that citric balance.

 

Some uses can seem strange at first, like tinned laverbread, bit others like drying it out and making a fine powder can really useful as a condiment in your store cupboard.

 

To wrap this up like rice in a nori roll, laver seaweed has been around for centuries and has always been an important part of coastal communities all over the world. It’s delicious, nutritious and versatile – what better reason could there be to give up your butter on toast?

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Chanterelle Mushroom Foraging Guide

Foraging for Chanterelle Mushrooms: A Complete Guide

 

If you are a lover of wild mushrooms, or if you have never eaten one before, then this chanterelle blog is for you. Foraging for chanterelle mushrooms is a great activity to do when you are out in the woods. They grow on the ground and look like yellow-orange trumpets.

 

This blog will provide information about how to identify the prized chanterelle mushroom, where to find them, what they taste like, and how to cook them. If this sounds interesting to you then keep reading! 

 

Where are chanterelles found?

 

Chanterelles are found all over the world throughout Europe, North America, Central America, Asia, and North Africa. They can grow in any type of habitat, from forests to agricultural land, or even urban areas if they have access to enough moisture.

 

Chanterelles are most commonly found around maple, beech, and oak trees — but can also grow near pine and Douglas fir as this is where the chanterelle mushroom love to live under the trees duff layer with its decomposing needles.

 

An old, mature forest floor is a great place to start searching for chanterelles. They can also be found in grassy or moss-covered areas.

 

Families of chanterelles usually grow close to each other, so if you find one, there are probably more nearby!

 

Some varieties of chanterelle mushrooms will grow in clusters on the ground while others will live alone just above ground level like a club fungus.

 

Do Chanterelles grow in the UK and Ireland?

 

You can forage chanterelles in the UK and Ireland but chanterelle mushrooms are most commonly seen foraged in North America.

 

Where are chanterelles found in the UK?

 

Chanterelles are found in the UK, usually from September to October. Chanterelle experts have been known to find them as late as December sometimes when there is a very cold winter and warm spring.

 

Areas where chanterelles have been found before include: Darlington Quarry (Durham), Leith Hill Woodland Park (Surrey) and Newlands Corner Plantation near Newcastle-under-Lyme (Staffordshire).

 

Who are UK chanterelle experts?

 

There are many people that can be classified as expert foragers of mushrooms, but we’ll highlight John Wright here.

 

John Wright is a renowned mycologist (aka person that studies mushrooms) and has written many of his own books including the popular ” The Foragers Calendar”.

 

His approach to foraging is suited to those looking for guidance and advice. If you want to go on one of his foraging courses you can click here to learn more

 

I know that sometimes finding chanterelles can feel like searching for the Holy Grail, but I still think it’s worth trying your luck at least once in your lifetime!

 

Where are chanterelles found in Ireland?

 

Ireland has a long history of wild mushroom hunting, so chanterelles are not too elusive.

 

The golden chanterelle mushroom grows wild throughout much of Northern Ireland but they have been seen elsewhere also – on Kerry’s South-West Coast for example. They seem to prefer areas with acidic soil such as heathlands or other moors where there is little competition from tress.

 

Other areas for chanterelles in Ireland are:

– Wicklow Hills

– West Cork

– The Burren and Cliffs of Moher

 

Experts recommend that you take a wooden fork with you when foraging so as not to disturb the ground too much or get poked by plant thorns.

 

Chanterelles can also grow on old apple trees, especially those close to rivers which may explain why these types of tree feature prominently in chanterelle hotspots such as Lough Tay near Glendalough and Sliabh Beagh Mountain.

 

Trees that chanterelles grow near

 

When foraging for chanterelles, it is best to look near trees like oak, aspen and maple. These are the best types of trees to find them near because the tree roots provide a lot of nutrients in order to help chanterelle mushrooms grow.

 

Oak trees provide a lot of nitrogen and tannins which these fungi need when eating tree roots that have been broken down by decomposition.

 

Maple is also beneficial because its leaves give off more sugars than most other types of deciduous forests including oaks and beeches. These sugars help the chanterelle mushrooms grow and continue to produce.

 

Best chanterelle soil types

 

There are a few best types of soil that chanterelles like to grow in. The best type for chanterelle mushrooms is well-drained, acidic and rich soils with high levels of organic substances such as leaf litter or wood debris.

 

The second best type of soil would be clay loams because this adds more acidity, which is what these fungi thrive off when it comes to living conditions. Clay also provides an excellent base for them to form since it remains moist longer than most other types including sand.

 

When to forage for Chanterelles

 

Once July has started you should start looking for the light yellow fruiting bodies of the chanterelle mushroom. When the chanterelle season is in full swing, you can find these mushrooms everywhere. Chanterelles are most common from July to October and will start fruiting earlier as spring approaches.

 

What month should I be foraging chanterelles?

 

The best months to look for chanterelles are late summer and early fall when they’re at their peak! When it’s hot outside during other seasons, don’t forget about your local state park or forest preserve where there may still be wild edible mushrooms are available through September and into October if not longer depending on weather conditions.

 

Identifying Chanterelles

Chanterelles stand out against the forest floor with their bright golden colouring and veiny pattern. Their overall shape is round with very thin stems so chanterelle mushrooms are easy to distinguish from other forest floor fungi.

 

The gills of the chanterelle are very different when compared to other mushrooms. True chanterelles do not have bladed gills but forked, slightly rounded folds that look like gills. These run part way down the stem. be careful not to mistake a true chanterelle for a false false chanterelle. Learn how to identify false chanterelles in the next section.

 

Chanterelle Look a likes

 

Eating wild mushrooms can be a risky prospect. Although the risk of mushroom poisoning is unlikely, always be sure you correctly identify any mushrooms using multiple sources before eating them.

 

The False chanterelle, Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, is similar as it looks orangey yellow but the flesh’s colour doesn’t change when cut in half. The gills of the false chanterelle are more crowded than the true Chanterelles.

 

The fruiting body of the Omphalotus olearius, or Jack O Lantern mushrooms is commonly found on deciduous wood in Britain. It is darker orange than other members of the Chanterelle family and is poisonous.

 

What happens if you eat a jack o’lantern mushroom?

 

If you eat jack o’lantern mushrooms or you do not know what kind of mushroom it was, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor immediately as they are poisonous.

 

False chanterelles can cause hallucinations and illness if eaten in large quantities.

 

How To Prepare and Cook Chanterelles

 

When thinking about chanterelle recipes you should take into account they can be used either fresh or dried.

 

If you’re using chanterelles fresh, they can be simply sautéed in a pan with butter or olive oil. They will cook down and turn into an orange brown color when lightly cooked. If you are cooking chanterelle mushrooms for more than three minutes, the water content of golden chanterelles may evaporate and dry them out.

 

Similar to how chanterelles can be used fresh, dried chanterelles can also be made into mushroom powder by drying their stems (cut off at the base) on low heat until brittle enough to break up finely underfooting your spice grinder – this is called “chasing” in French cuisine.

 

Chanterelle Recipes

 

Golden chanterelles come at a high price to chefs, who often consider them just as good as morels or truffles. Chanterelles are a diverse mushroom that can be cooked a number of different ways and taste great. They bring a dish to life so why not try create one for yourself with this chanterelle sauce that’s perfect for pasta.

 

Chanterelle Sauce Recipe: Melt ½ Tbsp butter in pan over medium heat then add thinly sliced chanterelles or chanterelle mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cook until chanterelles are soft. Then add ¼ cup cream or crème fraîche, let the chanterelle sauce simmer until thickened then remove from heat.

 

To learn more about foraging subscribe to the Go Gather Wild Podcast now.

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Identifying and Foraging Cep Mushrooms: A Complete Guide

Cep mushrooms are a delicacy that has been enjoyed in Europe for centuries. The ceps are small, but pack a punch of flavour. They were one of the few edible mushrooms so popular among the nobles that they were often referred to as “the prince of mushrooms.”

 

If you foraging for wild mushrooms you can find them in woods and forests throughout North America, Europe, and even Asia too!

 

In this mushroom guide I will teach you how to identify ceps, where to find them, when is the best time to go foraging for ceps and cook up some delicious recipes with your harvest. Get ready because we’re going on a mushroom hunt!

 

Are Ceps and Porcini the same?

 

This is a common question with a simple answer, yes. The porcini is the name given to a cep in Italy. It is also commonly referred to a penny bun in the UK. When you hear people talking about foraging porcini’s, finding pennybuns, boletus edulis, or that it’s cep season, they are all talking about the same mushroom.

 

Cep mushrooms are not always easy to find in stores and tend to grow wild so you will need some outside help when it comes time for them to be found.

 

When to forage ceps

 

Generally, ceps will start to appear anywhere from mid summer to late autumn so keep them in mind from July onwards. We have seen small ceps in June and giant ceps in October, so they vary a lot depending on the time of year you might be foraging.

 

The best way is by paying attention during the fall months of October through November

 

Where to find ceps

 

The cep mushroom is usually found in the woods, at the bottom of trees and stumps or even under leaves. Some people will find them in old piles of firewood too.

 

In general though ceps (boletus edulis) like to grow near hardwoods such as an oak tree and maple trees but they can be seen anywhere from white pine all the way up to spruce trees. They will be growing thin on the ground or poking out from under leaves so keep your eyes peeled!

 

Cep mushrooms have this amazing smell which might help to find them too so look with your nose as well as your eyes!

 

Identifying Cep Mushrooms

 

Ceps are usually pretty easy to identify. They have a long cylindrical shape and they can grow up to 20-25cm in height, although I find mine more often at about 15cm high or less.

 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what cep mushrooms look like as they will always be accompanied by their distinctive smell. Ceps differ from normal mushroom as they don’t have gills.

 

The family of mushrooms that the cep belongs to is called the bolete. These are all polypores which means they have pores instead of gills so you’ll see what appears to a sponge under the cap.

 

Cep Mushroom Recipes

 

The reason this mushroom is so prized is because of the taste. Ceps have a rich, creamy and earthy flavour which is fantastic with pasta or risotto dishes that call for porcini mushrooms.

 

Cep mushroom recipes can be found in any Italian cookbook so it’s not hard to find them but I’ll share one cep recipe below if you want some inspiration on how to use your foraged mushrooms.

 

Recipe: Cep Mushroom Risotto with Porcini and Parsley Gremolata

 

This is a vegetarian dish but you can make it into an entree by adding some chopped bacon to the mix. You will need:

 

– Olive oil (to taste)

– Butter or olive oil for sautéing

– Cep, Penny Bun, or Porcini mushrooms (fresh or dehydrated)

– Shallot, finely minced (to taste)

– Garlic, crushed and peeled (optional but recommended)

– Arborio rice (or any type of short grain white rice that you prefer to use for risotto recipes)*

– White wine or vegetable stock/coconut milk combo

– Parsley

– Fresh Thyme

– Lemon

 

To make the dish start by adding the olive oil (or butter to a saucepan and sauteing the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and any additional seasonings you like.

 

Add the rice once those ingredients are cooked through and then add wine/vegetable stock until it is fully absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently while adding more vegetable stock once the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

 

Once all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked through, remove from heat and stir in parsley. Season with salt to taste.

 

– Serve while still hot or cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a preheated oven on warm for up to twenty minutes before serving (this will enhance the flavour of the dish).

 

– Serve with a squeeze of lemon and parsley on top!

 

*Ceps are great for risotto or pasta recipes because they have such an earthy flavour that adds depth to any dish.

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Elderflower Foraging Guide | Go Gather Wild

During late spring and early summer, Elderflower can be found growing on Elder trees in hedgerows all over Britain and Ireland, but pick it quick as it doesn’t last long. This guide will teach you everything you need to know so you can identify, pick and use elderflower.

 

What is Elderflower?

 

Elderflower is the white flower of Elder trees. Elderflower can be found on an Elder tree in hedgerows across Britain and Ireland from late spring to early summer. It is a flower that has been used for hundred of years in everything from salads and sauces to teas and medicine.

 

Health benefits of Elderflower

 

Like many other plants, Elderflower is packed with antioxidants and other active nutrients that benefit you in a number of positive ways.

 

Elderflower is excellent at helping to sooth sore throats. The syrup has even been said to help throat infections such as tonsillitis. While tea made from elderflower has been said to help with colds, flu, indigestion, stomach cramps and to have relaxing properties that can help with insomnia.

 

Elderberries, which come in after the flowers around September or October, are highly nutritious with lot of vitamins A, C and D; they have more Vitamin C than oranges (just like spruce tips)!

 

They also contain a large amounts of iron and potassium as well as being rich in folic acid, linking them to the prevention of many illnesses like eye disease, anemia, allergies, headaches, arthritis and rheumatism.

 

Where and when to forage Elderflower

 

Generally, when foraging elderflower, it’s more common in hedgerows and areas where a lot of elder trees grow, but they can be found on their own at times.

 

Keep your eyes peeled when for them growing in parks, gardens and sometimes on roadsides. The white flowers of the Elder tree stand out a bright contrast along busy roads, woodland edges or near old hedgerows and ditches as well.

 

Elderflower grows throughout the year but blooms and should be collected from April to early June depending on the area. The berries then come along and can be found in autumn between September and October.

 

Identifying Elderflowers

 

Elderflowers are the white floral heads found in spring on a wild plant called an Elder tree or Elderflower tree as it’s often called. They can grow up to 6 meters (20 feet) tall. If you see a mass of green leaves dotted with white flowers in a hedgerow then it’s likely to be elderflower.

 

Leaves: Elder leaves come out from the branches in bunches of 3 or 5 when they’re small. They grow bigger depending on their age and some elder trees have very big leaves while others have tiny ones so it’s hard to tell how old an elder tree really is without digging around it and seeing its stem growth.

 

Stems: Elder trees have white, hairy stems that grow straight up and have the same growing pattern as ivy. Young elder trees are covered in fine hair but this falls away as they get older.

 

Elderflowers: Elderflowers look like cotton wool on a head of broccoli. They start out life green and turn into their fluffy white selves when summer hits. Elderflowers are instantly recognisable by their velvety fluffy look and their shape – round with a protruding bit in the middle called an umbel.

 

Elderflowers aren’t just pretty to look at however; they’re really good for you too! Their signature smell comes from an essential oil found within the plant that has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

 

Elderflower Recipes

 

When thinking about how to use Elderflowers, consider that like most plants you can use it fresh or prepare it in many ways like drying or pickling. To get more inspiration try visiting the BBC elderflower recipes here. 

 

The freshest flower heads can be used to make Elderflower cordial, Elderflower champagne and Elderberry wine in autumn.

 

Why not try our cordial and champagne recipes to give your cocktails that summer flavour or your garden parties that pop!

 

How to make Elderflower Cordial

 

Follow the simple and easy steps below to make your first batch of this delicious cordial or elderflower syrup as it’s sometimes called that takes any drink to the next level.

 

Foraging Time: Half a day

 

Step 1. Preferably use fresh Elderflowers, but you can also try and use dried if there is not enough Elderflower season in your area (usually April- June).

 

Preparation: 15 Minutes

 

Step 2. Gather Elderflowers and wash them to remove any dust from the surroundings. About 20 elderflower heads will do.

 

Step 3. Pick off any unwanted leaves and stems that may have gathered around the flowers when harvesting them.

 

Step 4. Place Elderflowers in a clean glass, plastic or ceramic container such as a big measuring cup.

 

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

 

Step 5. Make a simple syrup by adding 2.5kg of caster sugar to 1.5 litres of cold water in a large pot. Gently heat over pot till the sugar has dissolved.

 

Step 6.Once the sugar has been dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a wash bowl with water and give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the two unwaxed lemons worth of juice, lemon zest and 85g of citric acid, then stir well.

 

Bottling Time: 35 minutes

 

Step 7. Cover the pot and leave to infuse for 24 hours. Be sure to take is that amazing smell coming from cordial mixture.

 

Step 8. Line a strainer with a clean cheese cloth or use a sieve as an alternative. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through to a container below. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles and the cordial is ready to drink straight away.

 

It will easily keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

 

How to make Elderflower Champagne

 

Elderflower Champagne is a traditional French summer drink that has been brewed for hundreds of years and is an amazing.

 

For this recipe you’ll need white wine vinegar, sugar and some Elderflower heads as well as the Elder flower Champagne recipe below. Here’s another recipe from our friends over at the Spruce Eats.

 

Our recipe makes one bottle of Elderflower Champagne but if you have a lot of elder trees around you, there’s no stopping for much you could make. Just be sure the only take what you need and leave some flower heads on the tress so they turn into elderberries later.

 

For every 1 litre bottle, or thereabouts, you will need about 4-6 heads of Elderflower. So follow these steps to get popping!

 

Foraging Time: Half a day

 

Step 1. Our elderflower foraging recommendation is the same for champagne as it is for the cordial so why not try make both?

 

Preparation: 15 Minutes

 

Step 2. After foraging for elderflower, place the pale yellow flowers on a board and break off and of the long stems before the bunches begin. Don’t wash them as the natural yeast is what eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol. Give them a shake to remove bugs, leaves and anything else that might be hiding in the floral mass.

 

Cooking: 30 Minutes

 

Step 3. Make a simple syrup in a saucepan similar to the cordial recipe but this time once it’s ready top it up with three times more water. Add in the vinegar and elderflowers. Now give it a stir. Now cover and leave for three days.

 

Top Tip: To help speed the brewing process along you can add in two tablespoons of white wine.

 

Bottling: 40 minutes

 

Step 4. Strain the liquid into a large container that you can pour from. Now using a funnel, or just being very careful, pour the liquid into your steralised glass bottles and leave for a week.

 

Now everything is done you can step back and waft in a kitchen that’s full of scented wild elderflowers. Plan a party for next week and get popping those bottles.

 

Elderflower Fritters with Elderflower Syrup Sauce Recipe

 

If you want to try your hand at cooking elderflowers then this recipe is for you. Start by collecting a handful or two of elderflowers, when you bring them home cut off the stalks and put them straight into a ziplock bag. You can wash your flower heads as soon as you have cut them if you want to get rid of any insects.

 

Ingredients for the Elderflower Fritters:  150g plain flour, 125ml milk, 75ml vegetable oil, 2 Eggs, 1 tsp baking powder, a generous pinch of salt, 10 Elderflower heads, and 3 tbsp Vegetable oil.

 

To make Elderflower Syrup: Follow the recipe above.

 

Method To Make Elderflower Fritters: Start by making your batter. In a bowl sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in your milk and vegetable oil till it all combines. Then slowly beat in your eggs till everything is mixed through.

 

Heat the oil in a saucepan. To check if it’s hot enough add some drops of batter into oil, if it floats its ready!

 

Dip the elderflower heads into the batter and then put them gently into the hot oil to fry. Once the batter is lightly golden brown remove the heads and dust with icing sugar before serving. What a treat!

 

To make the elderflower syrup simply follow the previous cordial/syrup recipe.

 

If you enjoyed this article then subscribe to the go Gather Wild podcast and check out our other articles for more foraging and wild food information.

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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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