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Capturing the essence of sunshine and peak summer for the winter months when it’s needed.
Just enjoyed capturing the oil maceration as I left the blooms out to wilt slightly, to decrease a portion of the moisture before adding extra virgin olive oil to cover.
I’ll wrap this glass jar in a brown paper bag then leave in the warm sunshine to infuse into the oil over the next week or two. These yellow flowers exude a surprising deep red oil, I liken to ‘dragon’s blood’ I’ll share a photo of the finished product in a later post.
I also made an alcoholic tincture by covering the fresh blooms in vodka to sit for a month, which I will shake regularly until ready to strain off to use in the winter months, to help combat seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues.
Photos show a St John’s Wort tincture and a St John’s Wort infused oil to use medicinally.
**Please note that this herb should not be taken alongside pharmaceuticals without professional guidance.
There are soo very many books that inspire me and that I learn from. Here is a small selection of books and authors whom I admire and respect. Among many others! I’ll do more posts with other books to share with you another time as well.
This is one book post of many: as I am a huge book-aholic! It’s an addiction that I am happy to feed. There are more book posts here in my blog and on Instagram.
I get asked so often to recommend books and resources that I like to learn from. The following are some excellent places to start!
Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal. The book focuses more on medicinal plants, how to identify, harvest, process, recipes. A great place to start from and a beautiful book, full of recipes and methods to use these local wild plants as medicine. (Plus, having met them a couple of times- they are beautiful people!)
River Cottage Mushrooms by John Wright. A great beginners guide to edible fungi and their dangerous lookalikes. I also enjoy listening to his other Foraging books on Audibles.
Edible Mushrooms by Geoff Dann highly recommended.
Trees in Britain by Roger Phillips (also any or all of his Foraging books, he’s a legend, who sadly just passed recently). If you’re interested in mushrooms, you’ll soon learn that you need to know the trees!
The Forager Handbook by @miles_irving_wild_food High end and Chefy recipes and an excellent resource of edible wild foods found in the UK and Ireland. A fellow Association of Foragers member. Not a beginners book I would say but it’s a great compilation of wild plants and elaborate recipes.
Eat Weeds Cookbook by @eatweedsuk Robin Harford. Another Foraging wild food legend and fellow AoF member. His website is comprehensive and I’d recommend signing up to his mailing list.
Extreme Greens Understanding Seaweeds by Sally McKenna a great book with seaweed ID and delicious easy to use recipes to incorporate seaweeds into your every day diet.
New Wildcrafted Cuisine by @pascalbaudar I love all of his books, a pioneer in new wild food processes including Fermentation. Follow him on Instagram and you can also sign up for his online classes.
@alysf Alys Fowler The Thrifty Forager. Beautiful simple to follow book, she has another one about preserving also. Great for urban foraging.
Botany in a Day @thomasjelpelI’m excited to be learning more about identifying plant families with this book. He also sells a card game to help learn these skills.
I was fortunate to take Joe up on an offer to visit his woodland. Joe lives on a farm in Tipperary and his family planted up some of the fields with forestry in March 2000 as part of a long term plan to reinstate the native woodland habitat.
When Joe, Eimear and Selina were telling me that there was a huge abundance of fungi there, to be honest I thought, yes, there are so many fungi in so many places – yet I was not prepared for what we came across!
In my naiveté I totally underestimated the drive to Tipperary from Wicklow, in my mind it was an hour at most. However it was well worth it, not only for the fungi, but to spend a surprisingly lovely day with really special people! Joss, Anna, Manini, Jamie, Joanne, Anna, Selina, Eimear, Joe and myself.
It was a wet and soggy 25 October when I arrived after a 2.5 hour drive there. I was greeted by Joe’s warm smile and a sputtering campfire that Joe had gone to much effort to light along with a gazebo and tables to meet everyone around.
We laid out some of my favourite mushroom books, some dried mushrooms samples and medicinal mushroom tinctures to discuss and introduced ourselves to each other. We then headed out to explore the undergrowth of the Norway Spruce plantation. It was like entering an enchanted fairy glen and we were immediately greeted by literally hundreds of thousands of mushroom fruiting bodies.
Mushrooms in crazy abundance amongst a Norway spruce plantation in Tipperary- have you ever seen anything like it? I haven’t! This was in every direction!
Thank you to Anna and Selina for some of these images!
I feel very fortunate to have crossed paths with and spent time with the formidable Judith Hoad. I first met this woman in 2003 when I was studying Naturopathy at CNM in Dublin.
She made a strong impression and years later I tracked her down once again and this time committed myself to a long drive up to the wilds of Donegal for a long weekend every month for six months.
Myself and four others were amongst the last to attend Judith’s “Natural Medicine for Householders” course around her kitchen table, next to a warm wood burning range at her off grid cottage way up there in the wild lands of rural Donegal.
It was a transformative experience for me, and one that I can say with certainly changed the course of my life. The exposure to her intentional off grid and simple living was eye opening and sparked my passion in living in alternative ways.
We spent many afternoons around Judith’s kitchen table, learning from her hard won wisdom of experience. Judith was nearing 80 years old and had learned all she knew the hard way, experience, intuition, books but limited access and certainly no internet.
She generously passed on her knowledge to us, as we sat in rapt attention. She is a tough taskmaster and you have to have thick skin at times if she gets cross! And at the same time, we learned about the food that grew in her garden, both cultivated and wild. We learned how to make salves, creams, lotions, tinctures and decoctions.
We were served delicious healthy soul food full of love and care and received her cookbook of favourite recipes at the end of the course.
Ill always be grateful for having had this opportunity.
I have very few photos of that time but here are a few:
This is difficult to answer as there are so many different ways to be interested in fungi- whether it is identification, edibility, medicinal mushrooms, cooking mushrooms or wild food, cultivation, mycology… the list goes on. I am interested in most of these aspects, but I am aware this could quickly become overwhelming to a newcomer. Also of note is that one should seek out mushroom books that are local to their part of the world.
Another important consideration is that while I value buying vintage and second hand whenever possible- when you are relying on mushroom books to give you safe and up to date information- I do not recommend old books. The information is changing constantly, not only the classifications and taxonomy but the information on safe edibility of mushrooms in older books can be suspect and no longer recommended, such as the culmulatively toxic Brown Roll Rims. So, find it second hand if you can- but get your books recent and up to date.
This list will evolve and I will add to it over time, I’ll just get a start on it tonight…
I will list some books I love or recommend and why here:
I highly recommend this book for all beginning mushroom foragers. The River Cottage Mushroom book by John Wright is an excellent resource for those that are interested in foraging for edible mushrooms. There are great photos, clear information, a slight sense of humour and importantly he points out when there is a dangerous look-alike to be aware of. There are some very tasty recipes at the end of the book in true River Cottage style. I like John Wright and also might say while I am here that I also enjoyed this one:
The Forager’s Calendar- A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright
I downloaded this Audibles audio version of this book: The Forager’s Calendar- A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests. I love listening to audio books in the car while driving and this one is informative and entertaining. Its good because he covers wild food and fungi throughout the season and what you might expect to find in any average month of the year and some tips about how he likes to use these ingredients.
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book to anyone, no matter what your interests are! I have both this copy AND the audio version. It is narrated by the author Merlin Sheldrake and I cannot get enough of it. An incredible book that covers the many and diverse ways of “How Fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures.”
Absolutely mind-blowing and hugely entertaining.
I would LOVE LOVE to have a coffee with Merlin one day:)
Let’s start with the one in the centre: the second one that I recommend to any new mushroom forager to be: Edible Mushrooms: A Forager’s Guide to the Wild Fungi of Britain, Ireland and Europe
I highly recommend this book, both to beginning foragers and experienced foragers alike. It has many species and what I like best is Geoff’s book stands alone in my opinion with its attention to the “Spectrum of Edibility”. So many books copy each other and err on the side of over-caution and preach to the lowest denominator. Geoff touches on this spectrum in detail and gives information about how and under what conditions each mushroom is edible or it isn’t. For example, many books might state: inedible, not recommended or unknown about edibility but Geoff gives us more detail than most- sometimes its a case of boiling before cooking, or cooking at high heat, etc to remove certain toxins. I respect and value this information so that I may make the decision myself, rather than be told simply: not recommended. And of course, should a mushroom not be recommended for consumption- this is also clearly stated!
Again, great photos, great information and again a warning on dangerous look-alikes.
Another book from that book stack above:
The Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Dale Rogers.
While, granted, this book says it is for North American species, most of it is also relevant to Ireland/Uk/ Europe. Many of these medicinal mushrooms also grow here so there is much valuable information if you’re interested in mushrooms’ medicinal qualities.
From Jelly ears, Shiitake, Fly Agaric, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Button mushrooms, Oysters, the list goes on and on.
Robert Rogers has a good online medicinal mushrooms course that I also can recommend.
Next on the list:
Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares- The Love Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms by Greg Marley
Throughout history, people have had a complex and confusing relationship with mushrooms. Are fungi food or medicine, beneficial decomposers or deadly “toadstools” ready to kill anyone foolhardy enough to eat them? In fact, there is truth in all these statements. In Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares, author Greg Marley reveals some of the wonders and mysteries of mushrooms, and our conflicting human reactions to them. With tales from around the world, Marley, a seasoned mushroom expert, explains that some cultures are mycophilic (mushroom-loving), like those of Russia and Eastern Europe, while others are intensely mycophobic (mushroom-fearing), including, the US.
This fascinating and fresh look at mushrooms-their natural history, their uses and abuses, their pleasures and dangers-is a splendid introduction to both fungi themselves and to our human fascination with them. From useful descriptions of the most foolproof edible species to revealing stories about hallucinogenic or poisonous, yet often beautiful, fungi, Marley’s long and passionate experience will inform and inspire readers with the stories of these dark and mysterious denizens of our forest floor.
Hmmmm? What’s that you say? Can’t hear you from my Jelly Ear!
(Even if it’s the biggest Jelly Ear I’ve ever spotted!)
These abundant, edible and medicinal fungi were a bit challenging to me before, I must admit.
The gelatinous texture isn’t one that I was accustomed to eating but it’s grown on me! The distinctly ear lobe shape didn’t help either. 😂
This mushroom can be found commonly growing on dead or dying Elder trees. Sometimes you can hit the jackpot and find branches heaving with them.
Another name for this fungus is Auricularia aurícula-judae, Wood Ear, Black fungus, Cloud Ear, Judas Ear or more controversially Jews Ear/ although this name is no longer recommended.
These can be harvested throughout the year, and can even be found shrivelled up on the tree after a dry spell. They dry down very small and rehydrate readily when needed. Love finding them plump and fat and juicy but you can collect the dried ones too, saving you the job of drying them out!
I harvest, clean, slice and dry these to preserve them for use throughout the year. Then rehydrate when needed.
If cooked fresh in a frying pan they can be quite explosive!
I enjoy them most sliced into a Chinese dumpling with other wild greens and aromatics.
Another favourite amongst the Foraging world was dreamt up by @fergustheforager many years ago and takes the intact dried jelly ears and rehydrates them into a liqueur then covers them in chocolate.
This mushroom has been used medicinally since the Tang Dynasty 618 BCE in China, often added to dishes to help improve breathing, sore throats, to reduce colds and fevers, to enhance well being and to boost circulation.
One to look out for on your wild food or herbal medicine journey.
It’s harvest time on farms in many parts of the country & it is also harvest time for wild foods & a growing interest in them. Foraging for blackberries, elderberries and sloes is already happening along country lanes and this week Suzanne Campbell met up with a mushroom forager to learn more about picking wild mushrooms.