Ramson’s wild Garlic is appearing in many a wooded spot around now. Easy to identify and very tasty this is a great “starter”forage food. But a few words of warning.
Learn to distinguish young leaves from the young leaves of Wild Arum which often grows near by and when small can be mistaken by the unwary.
Pesto seems to be the most popular use of wild garlic and while it is easy to make there are some safety considerations.
Any food stored under oil has a short shelf life of 2 weeks. There should always be a layer of oil covering the pesto and once you start to use remember to top up with with more oil.
Store your pesto in the Fridge, below 5 degrees centigrade.
If any of your pesto shows signs of bubbling or pressure building up in the jars disgard the batch. Better to head out to the woods and start again.
Your pesto (or garlic leaves) will freeze well so you can keep a supply throughout the year.
So Keep cool, keep safe and happy.
Wild Energy booster.
This is my daily fix ofwild power, packed full of nutrients and flavour. Recipe is for 1 large or two medium servings.
Handfull of fresh garlic leaves.
Handfull of fresh nettles,
juice and zest of organic lemon, if you don’t have organic leave out the zest.
2 peeled apples or one ripe banana.
1 and 1/2 cups filtered water.
Blitz together and enjoy.
Nettle and Parsley pesto.
Ramsons Garlic and Rocket Pesto.
These are versatile recipes using whatever combination of leaves you like.Oil can be Olive, rapeseed or a combination. Nuts can be Cashew, Walnut , Pinenut or again a combination. Cheese is optional, again I often use Mossfield mature or leave out altogether to suit those with Dairy intolerance. if you have nothing to hand but leaves and oil you can blend together and season later.
2 liter jug of young leaves of choice,
300mls of oil,
juice of 3 lemons,(if organic use zest also)
100grms nuts or seeds.
100grms grated Parmesan or mature cheese (optional)
First snip leaves with scissors, this avoids long strands getting tangled in your blender.
Blend leaves and oil, season, add lemon juice and zest, blend briefly, stir inchopped nuts and cheese if using, pot into small jars and refrigerate or freeze.
Elderberries are ripening in hedgerows, great news as these little berries are tasty, easy to identify and full of goodness. They are at least as valuable when it comes to boosting your immune system as Echinacea and available for free all around us.
So grab your bucket and get yourself some local free super food.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin C, they also contain high levels of flavonoids which inhibit the ability of flu virus to enter cells.
Elderberries are packed with all the essential amino acids, Vit A, B C and H, calcium, magnesium and Iron.Thus Elderberry is a strong immune strengthening herb.
They act as tonic, antibacterial,anti-inflammatory, and expectorant.
Elderberries can be used in relishes chutneys, jellies and syrups. They also contain high levels of tannins which makes these little beauties perfect for making homemade wine.I use Elderberry wine to blend with other fruit wines.
Here is a simple recipe for syrup which stores well, take a spoonful every day as winter tonic or every few hours at first signs of infection.
Elderberry Syrup, spiced.
Syrups are very versatile, they make a great warming drink, can be drizzled over ice-cream or pancakes or added to smoothies or even sauces.Take a Spoonful over porridge or in yogurt in morning. This is my favourite winter syrup. Great added to a hot port, guaranteed to cheer you up when the chills threaten.
I usually add cloves and cinnamon bark to the mix to give it extra warmth, you could try organic lemon juice and zest or organic orange jest
Saucepan, stainless steel if you have.
Jelly bag or old pillow slip for straining
Bottles to store your syrup.screw top or clip top.
Elderberries stripped from stems, enough to half fills your saucepan.
Sugar.white, unrefined or Demerara.(you can use xylitol for a sugar free version)
Put berries in pan and cover with water, bring to boil and boil for 15 mins.Strain through jelly bag or pillow slip, squeezing to extract as much juice as possible.
Sterilize bottles in oven ( not essential if for home use) 20 mins at 160.
Rinse saucepan and measure juice. For every liter of juice add 700grms sugar or xylitol to taste. Add cloves and cinnamon, about 8 cloves and 3cm cinnamon per liter
.Heat and stir to dissolve sugar.bring to boil, turn off heat and allow to cool a little before bottling.
Bottle and allow to cool completely before storing in cool dark place or fridge, keeps very well, at least a year.
Workshop dates for July August and September. There are still some dates available for private bookings also, please call Mary on 087/7418536 for more details.
Mary offers workshops to schools, primary, post primary, College and private groups, just call to discus your own specially tailored event. See below for some scheduled dates.
Workshops can be themed around such topics as fun with wild flowers and plants. Biodiversity, Natural health boosters, wine-making. Fungi… So if you are looking for an unusual gift or a fun educational/cooking experience contact Mary.
August September 2017 DATES:
Tuesday August 22nd,@ Roundwood House,Co.Laois.
Saturday September 9th, @ Ecofarm, Gort, contact ecostayireland.com to book.
Sunday September 10th, @ national heritage museum Castlebar.to book contact museum.
Saturday 16th September, autumn forage at Howth castle cookery school. Forage followed by fun in the kitchen, book with cookery school.
Sunday 17th September,@ Clareen, Mushroom Day, limited spaces, to book call Mary 0877418536.
Saturday 23rd September, camp forage and cook with wildfoodmary, Co Westmeath. to book call Catherine 087 2740092.
PLEASE NOTE: workshops subject to minimum of 6 people, max 15.
To arrange a workshop for your family or group, home or away, please contact Mary.
I made a very quick and easy Dairy free Elderflower Ice-cream for our forage @ weekend, here is the recipe
I used “Sojade” organic soya yogurt but you can also try mashed ripe avocado.
It’s best to use an ice cream maker if you have one. It is important to add lime and lemon juice at start to keep good colour and don’t overheat water, if you don’t have time to infuse overnight just leave flowers soaking for an hour at least.
700grms un-refined sugar (or try Xylitol)
Zest and juice of 2 organic limes and 1 lemon (0r 3 lemons),
40 fresh Elderflower heads,
200g cornflour (or Kuzu)
2, 400g tubs of Organic soya yogurt.
Teaspoon of sea salt.
Put zest, juice, and water into a pan and heat to hot but not boiling. Add flowerheads turn off heat, cover and infuse overnight if possible otherwise for at least an hour.
Strain, you should have a good strong Elderflower scented liquid.
Return liquid to rinsed pan and add sugar, heat stirring to dissolve sugar.
Mix cornflour to a thick paste with a little water, pour into pan stirring all the time, bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes stirring all the time.Turn off heat and taste, remember you will be adding yogurt and that frozen will taste less sweet. However I like to reduce the sweetness by adding a teaspoon of sea-salt at this stage.Cool the liquid, you can speed up the cooling process by putting pan into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes.
In blender blend the yogurt and COLD Elderflower or use a stick blender and large bowl, when well blended, taste adjust flavour to your liking with more sweet, salt or lemon/lime.
Churn in ice-cream maker for about 20 minutes and scoop into container. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker place in freezer and freeze for hour, remove and mix to break up any ice crystals, return to freezer and repeat twice or till frozen.
Delectable with any desert, Try Fraughan syrup for a final florish.
The old fashioned roses are so fragrant just now and I’ve been working on ways to capture their fragrance so it can be enjoyed in depths of winter, very happy with this recipe for Rose Petal Jelly. In this recipe the petals are never boiled and retain their essential glory. Rose petals are also used as a remedy for many things.
I can’t think of a better food to soothe a battered heart.
Rose Petal Jelly.
5 large handfuls of fragrant rose petals,
juice of 3 lemons,
1.2 litres filtered water (1,200mls)
2 teaspoons rosewater (optional)
1kg jam sugar.
Have small jars clean and warm ready before you start to make. Put all ingredients except the petals into a stainless steel saucepan, bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 5 mins or so, test for setting point.
Meanwhile slice the petals into small pieces.
When setting point has been reached turn off heat and stir in petals.Pot while hot into jars distributing the petals evenly between jars. Seal as quickly as possible. The petals will infuse in the hot liquid, giving their heavenly scent and colour to the jelly.
The jelly freezes very well and is best in small jars so it is used quickly after opening.
I am also making a glycerite from petals and will report on progress over the summer.
Another beautiful day. I’m really getting used to the sunshine. This evening I’m cooking for my daughter Eve and her hubby Eoin. This is a healthy, vegetarian meal that will of course feature some wild finds as well as fresh garden produce.
The star of tonight’s dinner is the wonderful morel mushroom, locally foraged yesterday evening. These are so delicious I will be preparing them very simply. I am also whipping up a wild nettle frittata and we are sampling vegetarian puddings from demadfoodcompany. These will be followed by some wheat and dairy free rhubarb crumble.
Let me know if you try out these recipes. Comments and suggestions always welcome. Instagram users please unload photos using the hashtag #wildfoodmary
Wild Nettle and Potato Frittata
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1L Jug loosely packed with fresh nettle tops, cleaned and roughly chopped
8 Eggs (I’m using a mixture of free-range duck and hen)
4 medium Rooster Potatoes, cooked and sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed
1 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
Oil or butter for frying
* You can of course make your own additions like peas, peppers, feta or your favourite cheese.
Method (10 Minutes)
Heat your oil or butter in a large frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the nettle tops, cover the pan and allow to wilt for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and other vegetables if using. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes. Allow to cook until beginning to set. Now is the time to add your cheese. transfer your pan to a hot oven or finish under the grill to cook the top until starting to brown.
Morels with Truffle Oil
These delicious mushroom must ALWAYS BE COOKED. I am adding some extra flavour with white truffle oil, a gift from Italy. It can be purchased in Italian and other good food shops. This recipe is so simple that the real challenge is in finding the wild morels.
Morel Mushrooms (however many you can manage to find)
Sprig of fresh Thyme
Butter for frying
White Truffle Oil (A few drops for serving)
Method (12 Minutes)
Begin by roughly chopping the morels. Heat the butter in a frying pan. Add the morel mushrooms and fry for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and thyme. Remove from the heat and serve with a drizzle of truffle oil.
Wild Food Mary’s Rhubarb Crumble
My son-in-law Eoin has a serious soft spot for Rhubarb so I’m delighted to be serving up this dish from the years first cutting. This recipe is wheat and dairy free. I am also using xylitol instead of sugar. You can also use agave or honey. Cooking the base and crumble topping separately ensures a delightful crunch. They can also be stored separately keep well in airtight containers.
For the Rhubarb Filling
4 Stalks Fresh Rhubarb
1 capfull vanilla extract
xylitol to taste
For the Crumble Topping
60g Coconut Oil
200g ground Almonds
100g fine Oatmeal
Handful of mixed dried fruit (optional)
1tsp mixed spice
zest of 1 orange
xylitol to taste
Method (30 minutes)
Preheat your over to 180 degrees. Begin by preparing the crumble topping. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. In a bowl mix all of your topping ingredients except the coconut oil. Use a teaspoon to scoop in little lumps of coconut oil. Lightly rub in the coconut oil until you have a crumb consistency. Spread the mixture out on the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven, give it a good stir and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until it is golden brown.
While the topping is cooking you can prepare the rhubarb filling. Chop the rhubarb. Bring the vanilla, water and xylitol to the boil. Add the Rhubarb, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your rhubarb. It’s nicest when it keeps a bit of its’ shape.
Spoon rhubarb mix into a glass and cover it with the crumble. Enjoy!
Sunny skies and plenty to gladden the senses, a walk by the lake in Cornamona, sounds of garden birds near the house then wild geese curlews and swans and ducks near the water. New lambs in the fields.
The air filled with the scent of Gorse and the sun giving it’s first real warmth of the year, heaven.
I started my weekend with meditation among friends, then a lazy lunch with Mum and few hours lying in the grass talking and laughing with my sisters, that night first campfire in garden at home, well wrapped up watching the sky darken and stars emerge. The Pipistrele bats on the wing.
Monday morning early packed the trusty Toyota with fruit trees and headed off to plant a mini orchard in Connemara, a few hours with pick, shovel and good strong helper and we downed tools and headed for the lake.
Dinner was fresh trout, thank you Tom, with wild and garden salad and of course spuds. Next morning a longer hike round the lake shore, gathering some Bog myrtle flowers along the way. I had some myrtle tea recently and was curious to see if Bog myrtle would be tasty, it has a strong scent and was used in beer brewing and also to keep insects at bay. The tea which I brewed with Nettles and some honey was far too bitter but I’ll try again.
Back to Offaly later and off to the food academy on Tues, on the way way home I went mushroom hunting on an impulse, bad news for my suit trousers, which are wrecked from brambles, but great news for dinner.
For me finding Morel mushrooms in Mar/April is like your team winning the triple crown, I feel a little bit like I’ve earned my forager credibility for the coming year.
As for how they will be served, I’m sure Antonio Carluccio has a few inspirational ideas.
O by the way those other mushrooms in the photo are dung mushrooms, growing on manure, DONT try these they are POISONOUS.
This time of year it’s special to find something to collect, a stump of fallen Beech passed many times suddenly blooms with a large crop of Oyster Mushrooms and a mountain hike has Navelworth and early Gorse blooms. The real stars at this time are the winter sunlight and the colours of bogs and mountains, tiny details of moss and lichen, frozen branch and droplets on grass.
In the garden I have planted spuds, peas and garlic in polytunnel and harvested very last Tomatoes, a huge bunch of Parsley and some Beetroot along with wild Corn salad. The Parsley goes to make fresh zingy pesto with walnuts and cashews, later in spring I will make it again with addition of Nettles.
The other thing winter is great for is using your store cupboard foods, this year we made Elderflower ice-cream,Wild mushroom risotto,Pigeon breast with Blackberry sauce,Nettle cordial, Blackberry Liqueur, spiced Elderberry syrup. Damson Vodka and a very unusual dish of Sauterkraut with Wild mushrooms, damson vodka and Juniper berries.