There is so much available just now, in fact its getting late for some things already, the Ramsons Garlic is flowering and if you didn`t get your pesto made yet there is still time. Last year I also dried the flowers and they had a powerfull aroma more like roast garlic, guaranted to keep any vampire at bay!Go to recipies for wild garlic pesto recipie
Garlic Mustard is up too (Alliaria petiolata) to give it`s correct title, a lovely plant with a mild garlicky flavour,a member of the cabbage family. Does not smell of garlic till the leaves are crushed. Somethimes called “sauce alone” or “jack-by the -hedge”. It has a high Vit C and Vit A content great in salads or for a marinade mix for meat and according to Miles Irvine the seeds can be used in hollandaise or with eggs or cream cheese. We love “Jack-by-hedge” dip, easy peasy, see recipes.
All parts of the plant are edible, roots, leaves flowers and seeds
Young Beech leaves are appearing on trees and these are not to be missed. Tasty when very young, they also make the most divine booze when macerated in vodka and left to mature for at least 4 months, trust me if you try this your gift giving dillemas will be sorted as long as you have some to hand.
Pignuts or fairy potatoes(Conopodium majus) are in flower and so easy to locate (the green part at least). Locating the nut itself can be a bit of a challenge. We have served them in Bar 8 Galway roasted and slivered on goats cheese salad.
Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are also growing well. You can try candied stems or even a flavoured vodka. The young shoots are lovely served as a veg with quite a distinctive flavour. Alexanders are fun to experiment with and a little like celery. They have a good many folk medicine uses and were grown in monastic herb gardens.
This is a good time to spot flowering wild fruit trees and bushes like Crab Apple, Wild Pear, Wild Cherry, Damson(my favourite) and Blackthorn which produces Sloes. All these blossom can be used in blossom jellies but I prefer to watch and wait while the fruit develops for a rich autumn harvest.
Nettles (Utrica diocia) are still small and tender enough to use. If you cut them down they will sprout again and give a long long harvest season.Try them in Banitsa, in omelette, soup, as a cordial with young Blackcurrant leaves and last but not least as beer. Nettles are rich in iron,chlorophyll,copper, VitB and Vit C and beta-carotenes.Who needs manufactured supliments when we have such nutrition all around us for free?Go to recipes for Nettle and Blackcurrant cordial.
Spring flowers are out too and its time to start Dandelion or gorse blossom wine or even a combination of the two. Use both for a blossom jelly or as John Wright recommends as a wild flower syrup. Also the very pretty primroses and violets, although you can use primroses for wine. I preserve just a few and use some fresh on desert but mostly leave them to gladden the heart in banks and woods.
By the sea its the season for Nori, (Prophyra) Alaria,(Alaria esculenta) and Carraigin moss (Mastocarpus stellatus) Prannie Rathigan has lots of recipies in her book, Irish Seaweed Kitchen.
Happy foraging to you all, keep in touch.