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.

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 ,, 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.

Fraochán harvest

Fraucháns from Slieve Blooms 2014
The weather has been so good and the Fraochán plentiful that it is well worth a trip to gather though we usually combine with a nice hike.Often we surprise a whole family of grouse feeding on the berries and they move just a little way off grumbling until we pass.
Gathering the berries is a slow job and what wild food is all about.They have a strong colour and my fingers are stained purple all through their season.Fraochán These little beauties are so tasty and nutritious.
The berries are an excellent remedy for all manner of eye problems and the leaves in a tea are good to regulate blood sugar and to fight urinary tract infections, all this and tasty too!
I’m lucky enough to own this handy devise which I use only when berries are in plentiful supply,keeping to wild food craft good practice of harvesting no more than one third.
fraocháns or Bilberries (vaccinium myrtillus)are a member of the heather family and grow on acid soil.

Summer mushrooms, berries and flowers

It is a muggy damp July evening,the garden is full of new spuds, courgettes, carrots, beans, peas and bucket loads of berries all needing some attention be it weeding or picking, and in the hedges there are the last few Elderflowers, on the mountains a very healthy crop of Fraughans or wild Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus). Fraochán
These tasty little berries are packed full of vitamin C along with large amounts of anthocyanins, blue pigments which are powerful antioxidants.

Today on the way home we spied some Dryad’s saddle polyporus squamus mushrooms growing on a neighbors tree stump, they made a tasty dish for dinner, I have tried these before but had picked slightly older ones and it was like chewing an old boot.So it was good to finally enjoy them as young tasty polypores, they are easy to identify, growing on dead wood and reaching up to 50cms in diameter, they have brown scales and a depression in the cap close to the stem. They are a bracket fungus growing with pores on the underside, sometimes called pheasant of the woods due to their scales which look like a hen phesant’s back.Dryad's saddle

tasty mushrooms

Phesant of the woodsPhesant of the woodstasty mushrooms
On July 6th we collected and enjoyed our first Chanterelles of the season, so delicious.

Recently a lady visited who is interested in quilting and has begun to dye her own fabrics, this has caught my interest and helped me notice certain wild plants in a new way. I have been seeing Dyer’s rocket for years and vaguely wondering what that tall hand some plant is, to forget all about it in search of familiar forages, now it has a whole new significance for me, not that one needs to be usefull as well as handsome but it helps!I hope to find a half hour to cut some and dry it for use in Glady’s craft.Dyer's rocket
getting to know this plant led me to wonder which other plants can be used to dye fabrics and the list is long, including nettle roots, flag iris flowers and roots, Bilberries to mention but a few.

In other news my recipe for rose cake has been well received by many of you, thank you all for kind comments.
We have bottled the Elderflower “Champagne” and will check the pressure in the bottles over the next few weeks as the champagne is for a family get together in August,also made vegan ice-cream and buckets of cordial, no matter how many blossoms I collect and use there is always a slight feeling of not having gathered enough,at the same time it gladdens my heart to see the berries setting and swelling with a promise of rich harvest to come.
Hazelnuts looking good too as are the Damsons…. so much to look forward to, but just now time to sit still and watch the sky darken and the bats come out on this moonlit night.

Summer is here

Rosa Rugosa it’s time for flowers, Beautiful Rosa Rugosa with their heady scent and of course Elderflowers, but don’t limit yourself to cordial, you could make a simple ice-cream from Elderflowers and today I baked a rose cake to serve with the ice cream, here is the recipe.
It’s gluten free

ROSE CAKE
15grms of fresh Rosa Rugosa petals,
teaspoon of rose water,
200grams of ground almonds,
4 eggs,
75 grams of unrefined caster sugar,
half teaspoon of gluten free baking powder.

Line the base of a round 20cm cake tin with baking parchment and oil or butter the sides.

Heat oven to 175 degrees cent. If you are using a mixer such as kitchen aid whisk the eggs together but if using a hand held beater you will need to seperate eggs and beat yolks and whites seperately, adding half sugar to yolks and half to whites.The beaten egg white is added last.
Mix baking powder with ground almonds, stir into beaten eggs (or egg yolk) add sliced petals and rose water, spread in 20cm cake tin and bake for about 25 mins till skewer comes out clean. cool and serve with a few fresh berries and crystallized rose petals and ice-crem.

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