Wild Food Mary

Foraging, education, wild liqueurs – as seen on RTE (Lords & Ladles, Dermot's Secret Garden) & the Irish Times


June 2012

Elderflower Ice-cream and Very gingery bread with Nori

Elderflowers at their summery best, Ice-cream with Zingy

gingerbread and served up on great granny`s china.

(as you see I am a long way from mastering the art of uploading

photos  and editing posts!)

Elderflower ice cream
Elderflower ice cream


Elderflower Delight

Elderflowers are at their best for picking just when they open before they begin to drop their pollen.The stalks should always be removed. I first started making delight last year and was amazed by its popularity even with people who dislike turkish delight.I started with John Wright`s recipe from the River cottage handbook no.7, “Hedgerow” but soon began tweaking anf modifiying to suit my own taste, this is the result and I hope you like it.

  • 40 large elderflower heads, stalks removed,
  • 600mls water,
  • 1,400grms unrefined sugar,
  • 8 limes, jest and juice,
  • 200grms cornflower,
  • 40grms gelatine, leaf or powdered,
  • 1 teaspoon salt,

Line a shallow tray with baking parchment.put the flower heads and water into heavy sausepan and heat, leave to infuse overnight or for at least a few hours. Strain and return liquid to the pan.Add the sugar and lime juice and zest. Continue heating and stirring to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile soak the gelatine according to pack instructions. Make a smooth paste with the cornflower and some cold water. Stir the cornflower mixture into pan and mix well,add the gelatine and stir quickly to mix well and dissolve throughout mix.

Now (this is the tough bit) bring the mix to the boil stirring all the time, its a good idea to wrap the mixing hand in a tea towel to protect from heat and splashes of very hot mix.As the mix comes to the boil it will thicken and can “spit” a lot, keep stirring to prevent burning, boil for 10 minutes and then pour into prepared tray. Allow to cool and when cool cut into cubes.Place the cubes on a flat tray lined with parchment and allow to dry in a hot press or other warm dry spot for 2 or 3 days. Toss the cubes in a half and half mix of cornflower and Icing sugar. Delight can be stored in tin boxes if you can manage to resist eating it all straight away.

I would like to experiment a little further and try using Carrigeen moss to set the delight thus producing a vegan friendly version.

Nettle and Blackcurrant leaf Cordial

1 liter of nettle tops (packed loosely in measuring jug)

2 litres of blackcurrant leaves

1 kg unrefined sugar

1 teaspoon citric acid (optional)

Citric acid is used to improve keeping time if you wish to store your cordial for a month or so.

Put leaves into saucepan with 2 liters of water and bring to boil, boil for 5 minutes, cover and allow to infuse for few hours or overnight. Strain and return the juice to saucepan, reheat and when warm add sugar, stirring to dissolve, bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat and (if using) add citric acid. Stir to dissolve, Bottle.

Please note, this cordial is made with short cooking time, nettles love to ferment so keep in fridge or cold place and use within a month, easy to make a new batch and you can use Lemon Balm leaves or lemon to flavor.

Enjoy diluted to taste with water, sparkling water or even in a spritzer.

Nettles have a high protein and calcium content, also betacarotene and lots of vitamins.

Nettle Tops

May Photos

May Produce
Pig Nut / Prata Sioga (Fairy Potato)
Bily in ring of St. Georges
Plantain buds and St. George mushrooms
Dermot O’Neill and I foraging in the Slieve Bloom Mountains
Stone crop (or house leek) growing on rock
Rachel and Elderflower
Great find of St. George mushrooms:)
St. George’s mushrooms in situ.

Mushrooms and Elderflowers.


So its a wet weekend, a wet bank holiday weekend, but thats not all bad news, after the warm weather, wet weather usually means Mushrooms and sure enough when we went searching on the last day of May we found St.George`s Mushrooms (Calocybe gambosa) I had the great privelidge of sharing them with Dermot O Neill in his glorious garden, we ate them with young Ribworth plantain buds, yum, so good I served them the same way for dinner the next day, even the non mushroom lovers had second helps.

I have made first two batches of Elderflower delight, scoffed the lot in minutes so have not yet tried drying in warm oven or hot press for 3 days but will make more today.The other members of household are making cordials and “Champagne”

The Gorse wine is bottled now and looking very pretty and Beech leaf is ready to strain and bottle, Dermot and I had a little preview tasting and we reckon tis mighty stuff altogether so if you have`nt got at least one bottle on the go all I can say is Why not?? there are still a few young leaves to be found but not for long.


Other mushrooms appear around this time too and if you are lucky and know where to search you may find Field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) Horse mushrooms (Agaricus arvensis) or even some early appearing members of the Boletus family, but please please do not be foolish with mushrooms and do not eat any mushrooms unless you are sure that they are safe.


May News

Its summer at last,warm days and nights,of course this can mean high pollen and bouts of hay fever. If you suffer you might like to try drinking a herbal tea made from nettle, elderflower, plantain and camomile, just go to recipe section for tips. Also the wonderful Elderflower is again adorning the hedges and I have posted recipe for hugely popular elderflower delight.

For many people its also exam time and all that can mean; lemon balm is known as the scholar’s herb, and although it is not wild it deserves a mention for its very calming effect while also improving concentration and memory. It is lovely in your homemade cordial or as herbal tea. I have just made a batch of nettle and blackcurrant cordial and am sipping it now with added lemon balm, so summery.

What`s going on,

Everywhere is growth and life, the trees are in leaf and the grass is high. Its time to get beech leaf macerating before it becomes too tough, recipe provided and you could try an oak leaf wine too. Then the elderflower is just opening so elderflower cordial, “champagne” and delight are all crying out to be made. Elderflowers also dry very well if you’ve got the space, time and inclination.I have gathered some nori seaweed and it is drying, can’t wait to try a recipe from Prannie Rathigan`s book – either triple ginger cake with Guinness or maybe a chocolatey fudgy desert.

Also dried and ready for use is the heady scented woodruff. I will try it in homemade icecream which can be eaten with last few pots of raspberry compote, gotta make space for this year`s bounty.

I have met some very interesting fellow foragers on recent walks and swapped lots of tips andsnippets of knowledge. Alison has made beech leaf noyeau using unrefined sugar, honey or plain granulated and she is sure that the plain granulated gives the best results. Amelie uses carrigin to help set her jams and thats something I have often thought about, also would love to try in elderflower delight and try to produce a vegan friendly version.


Hay fever tea?

Time for more recipies, so many things going on, lots of growth which is great but high pollen means hay fever for many people. If you are one of the unfortunate afflicted you could try a herbal tea made of Nettle, Elderflower, Ribwort Plantain and Camomile. I do not have a recipe for this and happily don’t suffer but here is a suggestion, I would be grateful for any other ideas and especially feedback on this. Buy herbal camomile tea and brew up with a handfull of Ribwort Plantain leaves, a glove-full of Nettle tops and 3 Elderflower heads (stalks removed). Allow to infuse for 5 minutes before straining, sweeten with honey or unrefined sugar if liked.


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