Thanks again to so many people for joining Robert and I on  our Foraging Walk Last Saturday. I promised that I would put up names of plants and herbs that we saw. So here they are are.  If you are interested in foraging, get a good flower guide and take your time to look closely at all the plants you see. Identify them correctly and it will make your walks in the woods or sea shore have an added bite!

Alexanders  Symrnium olusatrum

Alexanders

Cut the young shoots into small lengths . Peel and add to boiling water with a little added salt. for about 6/8 minutes until really tender.Add pepper and salt. Often known as Poor Man’s Asparagus

Note; The flowers had not fully opened  on the plants we saw in the Raven.

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Stinging Nettle  Urtica dioica

We all know this one. You can make delicious soup from nettles. Nettles are best collected when young and tender. Coarser, older ones will not have the same flavour and should be discarded.

Nettle Soup

Serves 4

I clove of garlic (wild if you can find some), I onion, 2 potatoes, 2

( gloved )handfuls of nettle heads, Olive  Oil, salt and pepper, Home made stock if possible otherwise a good  organic stock cube.

Peel and chop garlic, potatoes and onion and fry for 3/4 minutes in a little olive oil.Don’t burn them, it spoils  the flavour! Remove stems from the nettles, shake to make sure no creepy crawlies in the heads, wash well and add them to the pan.You will now need 1  litre of stock. Boil rapidly for for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. Liquidize and  put back in saucepan. Season to your liking and serve. You can add a little cream if you are feeling extravagant. Serve with nice home made crusty brown bread.

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Gorse Wine

A lovely light summery wine

2 Litres of Gorse Flowers

1kg Sugar

2 Lemons, 2 Oranges

4  1/2 litres of  water

General Purpose yeast

Pick fresh young gorse flowers. You will need  good strong gloves for this.

Start the yeast. Put flowers in water and simmer for 15 minutes then add the sugar and dissolve.Pour into a clean bucket and add the juice of the oranges and the lemons, including the  thinly grated rinds.Allow to cool and then add yeast and allow to stand, covered with a cloth.

After three days ,strain off the solids and pour into a fermentation  jar. Fit an airlock and allow it to ferment. ( You can get  home wine making kits in many health food shops and hardwares).When fermentation is finished “rack”off into a clean jar , making it up to the full amount with with cold boiled water. Leave for 1 month and then filter your wine.Enjoy Home Made Wines sensibly.

We also saw and talked about Sorrel  Rumex acetosa. Lovely in salads. Young leaves are best.

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

Use the young leaves in salads. You can make  a type of coffee from the roots. Best when the roots are mature in the  Autumn. Dry the roots for a couple of days and  then grind them. It’s not coffee ,but it is  a warming coffee- looking drink. You can add a little sugar to your drink as  some people think it is too bitter without it.

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Beech Leaf Gin

1 Bottle of Gin

225g White Sugar.

1 Glass of Brandy.

Beech Leaves

This will give you the Wow factor when you share  with your friends.

Collect young beech leaves and remove all twigs. Half fill an empty earthenware jar (I think it works best in this type of container).Pour on your bottle of gin. Tightly close and seal your jar or container and leave for 3 weeks. STRAIN OFF.Boil the sugar in 1/2 pint of water and add this to the gin.I glass of brandy can be added at this stage.. This is one of the best liquors you can make. A real winner.

From Richard Mabey’s Food for Free (1972)

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Other plants we saw were

Herb Robert, Herb Bennet ,Hairy Bitter Cress, Rose Bay Willow Herb, Hazel ( great for nuts) Wild Garlic and Cleavers ( Robin Run the Hedge), Germander Speedwell Speedwell, Hedge Garlic,

We talked about Ash, Beech, Oak, Scot’s Pine and then we ran out of time!Always remember to only pick species that are abundant. This is what our forebears did.They were always mindful of protecting stocks for future use.

Here is a lovely photo of Bluebells just to make us feel summery!

Bluebells SC

Our next foraging walk  on the Raven will be

Sunday June 9th from 11am till 1pm.

We will look for  plants and herbs in a  different part of this incredible area which we all treasure so much. Hope to see you there.

Cost €10 per person.