wild food

Meeting Miles Irving at #WFSS2015

Wild Food Summer School Forage

I made it to Blackstairs Ecotrails’ Wild food Summer School for the morning forage with Miles Irving yesterday and what a treat it was!
Miles was able to show us numerous edibles in the small area of the field we were in focusing on grasses and trees. His hope is that we can harness technology to make preparing wild food easier whilst keeping it wild and nutritious.
Here are some points I took away – please note that these are simply observations I noted and one should ALWAYS inform and educate themselves on the safety (and sustainability) of eating any wild food – check out Miles’ book on foraging here for useful tips and advice:

  • Dock weed seed is bitter but good for the liver – maybe chef’s can come up with a way to make them tasty – particularly great if they can make it something to accompany alcohal! 🙂
  • Blackberry leaves can be used to make a very nice tea
  • The young shoots of the Rowan tree taste like almond
  • You know those stickleback plants that stick to you when you walk through them? Turns out that you can use them to make a coffee type drink! Best when brown.
  • Don’t eat nettles when in flower as the crystals in them will irritate the kidneys – note that they don’t taste very nice at this time anyway…
  • Green Pine Flowers are best!

Thanks to Mary and Robert for a great event – am sure they are all still having fun! Wild Food Summer School runs until Sunday evening this weekend. Visit www.blackstairsecotrails.ie/wild-food-summer-school/ for details.
Follow Miles Irving on Twitter @ForagerLtd
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Learn About Wild Food, Foraging and More

Wild Food Summer School 2015 #WFSS15

Blackstairs Ecotrails are holding their second Wild Food Summer School this September – 11,12 & 13th at the lovely ‘Old Rectory in Killedmond, Carlow.

They have added a number of new events and made it a much more family friendly event this year with a brilliant line up for kids on the Saturday and for all you foodies out there!
he-Forager-Handbook-Edible-BritainThere’ll be the chance to forage with  Miles Irving Author of the Forager’s Handbook – The Bible for foragers, on Friday at 11.20am, cheese making workshops, use of herbs and wild foods in cooking workshops, artisan food stalls, as well as GIY talks and Wild food & Craft Beer pairings!
For more information or to book your place visit  www.blackstairsecotrails.ie/wild-food-summer-school/
Tickets cost €60 (Friday only), €80 (Saturday only), €60 (Sunday only) or €190 for the full weekend. 

Wild Food Summer School 2015

More foraging, more great speakers, films, music,  Artisan Food stalls, Cheese making and  events for children. We also have a retrofitted ambulance  giving workshops on Up Cycling, Composting etc., facilitated by the Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI)

Tapping a Birch tree for Sap

Paddy of Hunt, Forage, Harvest shares his experience

I came across this lovely blog from PaddyHalligan who blogs about his and his familys’ “attempts to live a little more self-sufficiently…”
Having tasted Birch sap at the Maccreddin Wild Food Dinner last year (delish!)I can highly recommend it. Obviously it is important to know what your doing and to treat the trees with respect.
Over to Paddy:


A “tapped” birch - photo courtesy of HuntForageHarvest.com
A “tapped” birch – photo courtesy of HuntForageHarvest.com

It must be understood that birch sap can only be collected for a very short period of the year, usually somewhere in the first three weeks of March. In the lead up to this time, I’ll test whether the sap is running by gently driving the tip of my penknife into the trunk of any birch I happen to pass. If sap quickly runs down the blade, I know the time has come to collect.
There’s something wonderfully satisfying about successfully tapping a birch tree. Using a drill with a wood bit (I use a manual hand drill), make a small hole in the bark of the birch, at a slight upward angle. (Please note that the tree should have a diameter of at least a foot). The hole needn’t be deep, a centimetre or so is all that’s required. Sap should start to seep out of the hole quite quickly. At this point, the apparatus that is being used to collect the sap is attached.
With the spile hammered snugly into the hole, the sap runs down it. A piece of plastic tubing is then attached to the end of the spile, which is in turn attached to a plastic bottle, and the machine is left for a day to collect sap. On average, two litres of sap can be collected from a typical tree in twenty-four hours.

To view images of the tools Paddy used and more about his journey visit www.huntforageharvest.com