Hi and welcome to WildFoodMary.com!

Mary Bulfin - Forager

Photo by Harry Weir for Food and Wine magazine

Mary Bulfin,I am a forager, chef, and lover of all good food nature has to offer. I collect wild foods, use them fresh and also preserve, make all kinds of treats from delicious elderflower delight to relishes, dried mushrooms, and wonderful liqueurs.

I also give guided foraging walks and workshops to small groups throughout the year. Limited places are available so  book early.

If you fancy going out to forage yourself, check out my what’s in season now page for tips.

Some of you have asked for recipes recently and I am very happy to answer requests and swap ideas.

Also, please feel free to send me photos of species you want identified!

I can be contacted on my mobile at 087 7418536, or by using the form on the contact page.

November, what to forage.

November brings shorter days and cooler temperatures.But the light and colours of November are special, getting out to the woods and wild can be very rewarding with our visiting birds and surprise finds in hedgerows.

Now is the time to go searching for Rose hips which shine from the hedges. Sloes are ready for picking also and there may be some Spanish or sweet Chestnuts still around.

Fields, lawn and verges can yield Sorrel and even some Vetch or wild Marjoram.It’s also a good time to dig up roots of Dandelion, chop and dry for dandelion coffee, I picked up a pack in a shop today, 100grams for 3.19 euro, that’s 31.90 euro per kilo! it was made in Germany and packed in England, why not make your own.november mushrooms

Veg and flower gardens, especially my untidy one, have Corn salad, Chickweed and Hairy bitter cress.

Walls and stony places can yield Navelworth and House Leek.

Watercress  is a good November forage if you have a clean source.

 Woods are full of beautiful and varied fungi, admire them all and maybe you will encounter some Hedgehog, Blewits, Puffballs , Chanterelles or Cloudy agarics.Be sensible when collecting new species and identifying, when in any doubt ask a knowledgeable person and with some, such as Blewits and Cloudy agaric try just a little first time as some people suffer gastric upset.

Grab you coat hat and gloves, Kids of all ages enjoy, kick up the leaves while you’re out and make the most of the daylight.

For a different kind of forage, with two or three adults a word on “fashion” try wearing earthy colours, browns and greens, forget the deodorant, aftershave or perfume, go quietly.Why? well if you go quietly and blend in to your surrounding you have a much better chance of spotting wild life, a kingfisher on a river, a flock of tiny coal tits feeding, a deer .Just sit quietly for even ten mins sipping that warming drink and watching.

On a  recent foray while standing at the edge of a puddle a mouse popped out of the grass at our feet and plunged into the water, swam across the puddle, hauled itself up the bank and sat at a safe distance watching us.A memorable encounter for me and maybe for the mouse too.

In September we came across two male goats engaged in battle,smashing and crashing their headgear together, exhausting themselves in an effort to impress the ladies.

 

 

November forage, Roundwood house, laois

Hannah and Lucy discovering wild foods at Roundwood house,

Hannah and Lucy discovering wild foods at Roundwood house,

November first, you might think it too late in year to go foraging.
Not so, on Saturday a group of guests and I gathered for a wild food talk, forage and dinner.
The talk focused mainly on mushroom hunting, how to forage safely and sustainably and how to include and inform children, also the benefits of mushrooms, not just in our diet.
The walk, in grassland, garden and under magnificent trees yielded 5 different edible mushrooms and plenty not for the pot, but beautiful in themselves.
We also collected fresh greens and some berries then headed back to the warmth of the fire to enjoy a sip of my Damson Vodka and relax before dinner.
Dinner was sublime, one delicious course followed another, with our wild finds combined with best of local produce.
The mood was relaxed, old friends and new sharing a special meal.Our two chefs, Paddy and Ted joined us for a well deserved desert. A nightcap sip of my Beech Leaf Liqueur rounded off the evening beautifully.

Thank you to Mama nature for her beauty and bounty.
Thank you to everyone for a great day and to Hannah,Paddy, Amilee and Lucy for the welcome at Roundwood.

 

Beech Leaf Liqueur

 

Ready at last, Beech Leaf Liqueur

Ready at last, Beech Leaf Liqueur

Made from tender young Beech leaves sustainably handpicked just as they emerge in the springtime this lovely liqueur has burnt toffee aromas, a good woody flavour and a pleasant woodiness.

Try it and you’re sure to love it.

It is perfect as a before or after dinner sip, it is also ideal for serving with dessert and goes very well with coffee or poured over ice-cream, at moment I’m using it with delicate Almond and Pear Cake.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me bring this to market.

Roundwood House forage

30Foraging pics 23Foraging pics 21Foraging pics 33Foraging pics Roundwood forage

Beautiful sunny autumn day spent in Slieve Blooms with Hannah and Paddy of Roundwood House and friends. Big thank you to Lorraine O Sullivan for great photos and Corinna Hardgrave for mention in Sunday Times food article on October 12th.

Elderberry Syrup, Spiced.Nettle top and Lemon Balm Cordial

Here is the recipe for Spiced Elderberry Cordial, you could also use Blackberries. This was a big hit with wedding guests at Roundwood House recently along with the Nettle and Lemon Balm cordial.

The Elderberry or Blackberry  syrups a re delicious on ice-cream, with yougurt, in a smootie, as a hot drink even with hot port or used in sauces with Venison.

 

Elderberry syrup, spiced.

1 litre of Elderberries stripped from their stems,

Stick Cinnamon,

3 star Anise,

8 cloves,

Half kilo sugar,

1 litre water,

2 teaspoons Citric acid, optional.

Put Elderberries and water into pan and bring to a boil, boil for 5 mins. Strain pressing all juice from berries, rinse pan and put in the juice, sugar and spices and return to boil stirring to dissolve sugar. turn off heat and allow to cool a little, stir in Citric acid if using and bottle in sterilized bottles. I use small bottles and keep the syrup cool as it does tend to start fermenting due to relatively low sugar content and short cooking time, which is great for flavour. In any case do refridgerate after opening, Enjoy.

Nettle and Lemon Balm Cordial.

You may find it strange to be posting a nettletop recipe in October but if any nettles have been cut down earlier in the year they will now be putting out fresh growth perfect for using in this recipe wich also make use of the last of Lemon balm from the garden.

2 litres nettle tops,

1 litre Lemon Balm,

1 and half kg sugar,

1 lemon, zest and juice,

2 limes, zest and juice.

Desertspoon Citric acid.

2 litres water.

In a stainless steel pan bring water to boil, put in Nettle tops and return to boil, boil 2 minutes and turn off heat. Add lemon Balm leaves, cover and allow to in fuse for an hour.

Strain liquid and retun to the pan with sugar, heat again stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the lemon and lime, zest and juice. Turn off heat and allow to cool a little before stirring in Citric acid.

Bottle into streilized bottles and store in a cool place or fridge.

Good as hot or cold drink in Gin, Vodka or white wine.

Last minute forage places.

Hello fellow foragers,

it looks like a great weekend to be out and about. 4 places have just become available on tomorrow’s forage (Saturday Oct 11th) if you would like to join us please call Mary on 0877418536, meeting half ten.

Also don’t forget Wexford, Janestown Nature reserve on next Sat Oct 18th. and

Saturday Oct 25th in Offaly.

 

Correction, please note Canal walk on Sept 20th

Please note the Canal walk at Clonony takes place on Sat 20th Sept, apologies for posting incorrect date last night, enquiries to Carol Bergin or here, thank you.

Canal bank walk Sat Sept 20th

Now we are enjoying misty mornings and sunny days, perfect for Autumn’s  harvest.This year that harvest is bountiful with really good crops of Damsons, Sloes, Crab apples and plenty of lovely mushrooms in the woods. A stroll on Saturday yielded Princes (Agaricus agustus) Hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum)  and Amethysts (Laccaria amethystea) not to mention several different Boletes.

Saturday,  Sept 20 th there is a canal bank at Clonony, if you are interested in joining please contact me or Carol Bergin ; cdbergin@gmail.com

August 2014, Beara, Cadamstown 057 August 2014, Beara, Cadamstown 062August 2014, Beara, Cadamstown 071 I have been busy in the kitchen, bottled the dandelion and Raspberry wine and started a batch of Elderberry which I may use by itself or use to blend with some of the sweeter fruit wines, Elderberries have lots of tannins and so are good for imparting “vinosity” to homemade wines.  

Maamturks Aug and Boora n Mush 019

Maamturks Aug and Boora n Mush 002

Maamturks Aug and Boora n Mush 029

Maamturks Aug and Boora n Mush 023

Maamturks Aug and Boora n Mush 026
Sunday night and it’s been a busy weekend.Saturday we took a short walk in woods to collect Chanterelles and came home with Parasol mushrooms Chanterelles, Blackberries, St.John’s wort and Eye-bright.
Then a Sunday stroll on Boora bog yielded more Blackberries and some Horsetail, followed by visit to Mum in Derrinlough and 3 baskets full of field mushrooms not to mention the abundance of veggies and apples in the garden.
Now tis after ten at night, Mushrooms are drying on racks in living room. Blackberries soaking for a batch of wine and our Icelandic visitor is brewing a herbal tea.

Walk on the wild side

Wild food walks
August 5th, Tues 11am, Cloneen, Clareen, Offaly.
Sept 13th, Sat 11am, Cloneen, Clareen,
Sept 20th, Sat, Canal walk at Clonony, Cloghan, Offaly.
Sept 27th, Sat 11am,Slieve Blooms,
Oct 11th, Sat 11am, Slieve Blooms,
Oct 18th, Sat 12 noon,Janestown Nature Reserve, Wexford.
Oct 25th, Sat 11am, Cloneen, clareen, Offaly.

Nature is shaping up to reward any gatherer this year as there is an abundance of Damsons, Blackberries, Hazelnuts, Elderberries and who knows how many fungi, come along and join in, it’s a great time of year to get busy with hand made gifts, what could be better.
Book through Mary on 087/7418536, all workshops dependant on numbers.

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