7th Nov 2021 – Foraging and Wildcrafting Series: Fly Agaric- The Folklore, Mystique and Magic of this Toadstool


We will forage for and learn about edible, toxic and medicinal wild fungi including the hunt for the alluring Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria. This mushroom is all of these things: edible, toxic, medicinal, entheogenic and more.

I invite you for a day spent in the Wild Wicklow hills and woodlands with me to forage for mushrooms and in particular to seek out the alluring red spotted toadstool, the Fly Agaric.

We will then gather to spend a couple of hours together to discuss it in more detail, covering the medicinal preparation for an effective external remedy for sciatica and how to detoxify this mushroom for food and so much more, about this famous but controversial fungus.
I’ve studied this mushroom in depth and am really excited to offer a day sharing the folklore, mystique, and magic of this beautiful mushroom. It has such a vivid and colourful history with its use as a mushroom that is: toxic, hallucinogenic (or rather entheogenic), medicinal and edible. How can all of these things be true?
The Amanita muscaria, or Fly Agaric is one of the most widely recognised mushrooms in the world. It adorns children’s stories, art, fairy tales, christmas cards and decorations and many a lawn ornament. But it is so much more than this.
I will share with you how to identify this mushroom during a foraging mushroom walk in Wicklow. We will learn how this mushroom has been used throughout history- what are facts and what are fiction in the stories we are taught about this much maligned mushroom.
We will discuss some of the many ways this fungus is used throughout the world as medicine and food and more. Make no mistake: This mushroom comes from the family of some of the most deadly mushrooms. Very importantly we will learn the clear parameters of what is safe and what is not when foraging for wild food and in particular for wild fungi.
*Please note: We will be seeing, touching, smelling, identifying, discussing, learning and appreciating this beautiful red and white toadstool. It is true that this is not a beginner’s edible mushroom. But we will learn fact from fiction and you will go home much empowered with new knowledge.
You must dress appropriately for a day spent outdoors, hiking boots are helpful. You must be physically fit for a day spent wandering the wilderness with hills and uneven ground. Please bring a packed lunch and snacks. And a foraging basket (if you have one).
Comprehensive notes, links and recipes are included with information we have covered on the day along with a list of book recommendations.
***Wild food tasters and my medicinal mushroom and acorn drink are provided on this walk.
How much: €75 Early bird/ €90 Full Price

Early bird tickets are €75 per person until the 25th September and after that will be full price at €90 per person.
This event will run from 1100-1530 and will be limited to an intimate group size.

Bookings for all of my events will close 2 weeks before the event takes place. In this case, the event will close to all new bookings on the 23 October 2021.

I will be in touch with you before the event takes place to share the location with those that have booked their place.
I also offer shorter events in mushroom foraging from €30 for a shorter intensive 2 hour session if this might interest you more, please see my other events.
Here is a link to a podcast with Robin Harford after our last event:
Here’s another podcast with me speaking about this incredible mushroom with Manchan Magan on RTÉ:
About me: I am Courtney Tyler. I live in County Wicklow, happiest surrounded by trees and observing the changing seasons. I am a keen forager and spend much time wandering the hedgerows and forests for wild local food to preserve as food or medicine or to add to my fermented food and drinks.

I am a proud member of The Association of Foragers. I am not a mushroom expert nor a mycologist. However I have safely foraged for and consumed about 75 wild mushrooms as food or medicine. I can identify many toxic or deadly fungi and show you what to be careful of. I have processed wild plants and fungi into herbal tinctures, teas and salves. I am passionate about the learning process and am able to clearly communicate what i know and the passion I feel for the hard won knowledge and experience that I have acquired.

I tend to dive head-long into the things that interest me and I am largely self-taught, however I also have had many teachers and many who inspire me greatly. It is not unusual for me to fall asleep each night with a mushroom book in hand. (Don’t ask me how many mushroom books I have!!)

I have just completed some training provided by Wicklow Partnership and Leader funding for a Forest Bathing Certification and plan to share some of this practice on my walks as a stand alone practice or also to compliment the wild food and foraging walks.
You can follow me on:
Facebook at Hips and Haws Wildcrafts or on
Instagram at hipsandhawswildcrafts


Bookings for this event will close at 00:00 on 24 Oct 2021

Natural cheesemaking at Fumbally Stables 28 October 2017

Courtney Tyler with Minty the goat

I’m delighted to be a part of the Eat:Ith Food series in Fumbally Stables. Next week I’ll be teaching a half day workshop on natural cheesemaking. These will be simple basic cheeses that you can easily make from home using natural and renewable cultures such as milk kefir.

This is a hands-on workshop guided by Courtney Tyler, where you will get to make your own cultured milk recipes, including:

  • milk kefir
  • kefir strained cheese (cow’s milk)
  • raw chevre cheese (goat’s milk)
  • how to use whey

All participants will take home print-outs on the cheese making process, as well as kefir culture, kefir cheese & bottle of whey. Class size is limited to 16 people.

Booking is here: http://eat-ith.com/home/about/


Basics of Food Fermentation in Hunting Brook Gardens 21 October 2017

sauerkraut in the making

On Saturday 21st October Courtney will be hosting a Basics of Food Fermentation workshop from 1-4.30pm.

These will be interactive, hands on learning experiences where you’ll make your own creations to bring home with you. There will be some delicious snacks and samples to taste. You’ll go home with all the knowledge you need to safely start your own home ferments.

Together we will be making sauerkraut, beet kvass and pickles using the magic of lacto-fermentation.

Bring your fermentation related queries, some jars to bring home your ferments and yourselves.

Booking here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/basics-of-food-fermentation-and-pickling-at-hunting-brook-gardens-tickets-37156095883


Forage Feast Ferment in a Wicklow Woodland 22nd May

Due to the success of the first Forage Feast Ferment we are happy to announce the next event which will take place on Sunday 22nd May 2016.

Run in a beautiful forest setting, this is a perfect invitation to spend the day re-connecting with nature. Only 40 minutes from Dublin, 15 minutes from Wicklow town, yet it feels lifetimes away from the hectic-ness of city life.

Angie Kinsella and Courtney Tyler will offer a day’s retreat to meet other like-minded people, practice mindfulness in a natural setting, and an intro to foraging and food fermentation.

The morning will start off with coffees (would you prefer normal coffee or dandelion root?) and teas and a fun introduction followed by a walk in the woods identifying some wild and medicinal plants, trees or herbs that can also be used as a food.

A healthy meal will have been prepared in advance by Angie and Courtney that will feature some local, seasonal, fermented foods and drinks.

This will be followed by an introduction to food fermentation.  There will be samples to taste.

Everyone is welcome from the beginner to the experienced. What we enjoy about foraging, food and fermentation is that there is always much more to learn.

Please bring some comfortable walking shoes and wellies if needed. Warm and dry clothes to cater for Irish weather. Bring a notebook, a basket and yourself. The event will take place rain or shine!

If you have any food requirements allergies or intolerances, please let us know? We will do our best to cater to your needs.

Payment in full of €85 per person by the 15th May.

We offer a deal price of €150 per couple or if you bring a friend and book at the same time.

Early bird price of €75 each if paid in full before 7th May. Children under 12 are free, but must be booked in.

Book online here to pay in full https://www.hipsandhaws.com/product/forage-feast-ferment-22-may-2016-booking/

or pay the deposit to hold your place herehttps://www.hipsandhaws.com/product/deposit-for-forage-feast-ferment

or payment by PayPal to email address: hello@mayfly.ie


Any questions, contact:

Angie at: 086-358-1231

Or Courtney at: 086-376-4189

More exact details will follow closer to the date.
Here is the google maps link to show you where this will take place:

Thanks! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Courtney and Angie

A very cultured evening- review of workshop by Lucy Weir

fermented and cultured foods

A very cultured evening in Bray

Lucy Weir, PhD

Zygonomy is the science behind the art of employing a culture. A culture, in this

sense, is a specific mix of fungal and bacterial strains, often 20 or more species that

exist in symbiosis. The yeasts produce alcohol, and the bacteria consume them,

which means the yeasts can survive, which means the bacteria continue to have a

source of nutrition. These cultures have been a part of our diet since the beginning of

human history, being used to bake bread, preserve food, create drinks, brew beer or

ferment wine. And therefore, of course, they have been essential in the development

of our culture, the way we eat and drink being central to how we relate and


I was provoked into learning more about the process of fermentation after last

Thursday’s wonderful workshop given by Courtney Tyler in Common Ground’s

ground-floor room. The building itself is beautifully atmospheric, an old storehouse,

down a winding lane. There is a sense of hope about the whole place, combined with

a feeling of “make do and mend”, a determination to preserve aspects of Irish

culture, but a welcoming openness to useful elements from other traditions. It

resonates with both old-world charm and a thirst for learning. All in all, it’s a great

place to attend a workshop.

We sat round a scrubbed wooden table and watched as Courtney took us, first,

through the art of sauerkraut making. She had already chopped, into a large

stainless steel bowl (“some people say you shouldn’t use metal- I think stainless steel is

fine, along with glass or ceramic”) a huge red cabbage (she held her hands before

her like a fisherwoman to depict its original size), beetroot, turnip (which surprised

me), raisins she’d made herself from grapes (she told us how she’d come across an

abandoned polytunnel heaving with grapes – about as unlikely a tale as you’re going

to hear, but evidently true!), and salt. How much salt? A lot. She took a large pinch of

salt from a jamjar, large crystals of sea salt with what looked like seaweed flecks

attached, and said, “I think I’ve put about four of these in already”. She added

another two. She peeled a couple of garlic cloves and there was a discussion about

whether or not garlic ferments (it has anti-fungal properties, so tends not to pickle as

readily as cabbage, but she maintains that a little can add good flavour) and turmeric

(“if I’ve brought it”). But no water. sauerkraut, she told us, is “cooked” in its own juice.

She added some ginger, rubbing it against the grater without peeling or cleaning it:

the process itself will kill off harmful bacteria: in fact the skin contains the lactobacilli

the ‘good’ bacteria – this is the beauty of preserving through fermentation.

You could, of course, just stick with cabbage, but half the fun is in experimentation

with flavours, and adding such variety keeps things interesting, just as weaving

anecdotes through the recipes kept us listening. You can also add juniper berries.

This is the essence of culture: to take what’s fresh and, using tradition, extend by

trying something different. Courtney encourages us to play around and taste


It takes just two or three days for the vegetables to begin to “sour”, but they’re better

after up to six weeks. You can keep them for a year or more: this is a preservation

technique, after all, but Courtney warns that they lose their crunchiness and she, for

one, finds this less interesting. By massaging the mixture, the brine is released. Use

a wooden masher if you have one to crush the juices out of the vegetables – it’s

astonishing how much liquid they hold – and when that’s done, put everything into a

large preserving jar. It needs to not be airtight – it could explode – but muslin’s useful

as a barrier to keep the culture you want in the jar, and what you don’t want out of it.

Parchment paper also works. Waste nothing. Use the outer leaves of the cabbage to

press the chopped vegetables down and use a weight to keep them from floating to

the surface, above the liquid, where they’ll be exposed to moulds you didn’t invite.

Use the juice from a previous batch to start the next one, and so on. The microbial

content will alter with time, and that will in turn alter the flavour.

Kefir is the most powerful source of probiotics (bacteria and yeast that support the

digestive process) in terms of quantity of flora per weight. The process of keffiring

breaks down the lactose and caisein, particularly in cow’s milk, making it much more

likely that those who are lactose intolerant – one of the attendees fell into this

category- would be able to drink kefir than pasteurized cow’s milk.

Courtney shared her own experience that her allergies disappeared after regularly

drinking kefir, which can be made from either cow’s or goat’s milk. Courtney has two

goats herself and she enthused on their affectionate natures (“they’re just like dogs!

They’ve got such unique personalities!”. She grazes them with a couple of horses in

a field behind her house, and the uses two shipping containers, one for housing

them, one for milking and storage (the effort of milking is borne out in the taut

muscles of her forearms which are as muscular as a sailor’s. She also squats while

milking which, she assures us, is excellent for her glutes!).

Between talking, grating, mashing and gesticulating, Courtney passed round bottles

of kefir, kombucha, ginger, and fruit soda. We poured a small amount to taste of

each in turn into our emptied cups (we’d been given little cups of Chai to begin, with

the sort of elegance usually reserved for a Japanese Zen tea ceremony). We

discussed the difference between intolerance and allergy, and the importance of

starting slowly. During our discussion, a clearer picture of Courtney’s lifestyle

emerged: her house is evidently a veritable fermentation factory, armies of bottles

marshalled on every available surface not already occupied by the rows of jars

squatting or stacked on shelves, eliciting a single, eloquent, “Seriously, Courtney?”

from her partner.

We discussed the need to develop the hoarder’s habit when it comes to suitable

containers. Grolsch bottles with the rubber gasket are good: you’ll hear a buzzing,

hissing sound as the the gasket lets excess gas escape. Sugar, lots of sugar, is an

essential ingredient to feed the culture. Images of slave ships struggling to feed the

ravenous but increasingly refined tastes of northern Europe and the Americas spring

to mind. Fair trade is best!

As Courtney tackled opening a particularly lively grape soda, the discussion moved

to safety tactics for dealing with potentially explosive bottles (exploding bottles are an

occupational hazard for the inexperienced fermenter). Put the suspect bottle in a

large jug or bowl, and open it under the umbrella of another jug (you need fierce

dexterity for this), preferably not glass. And no, the fizz doesn’t fill you up with wind:

there’s even evidence that kefir reduces flatulence in those who are lactose


While we tasted the various concoctions, all good, fresh, interesting (alternately

sharp, sour, sparkly, sweet and fruity on the tongue), Courtney began to describe

making the next concoction, “ginger bug”. Start small, with non-chlorinated water,

one teaspoon of sugar, one of ginger, and stirring the mix as often as possible for the

next couple of days. Watch. After three or four days, carbonation builds up, you’ll see

little bubbles appearing at the edges. When it’s “lively”, it’s ready to use as a starter

for your homemade sodas: just add it to a sweetened juice or syrup. Cover with a

muslin cloth (or, if you’re really strapped, a clean pillowcase, cut up). Beneficial

yeasts from the air can then get through.

When making kombucha, you need tea and sugar and a starter. All the while,

Courtney pounded with her “sauerkraut stamper”, the only object (rejecting her

alternative inheritance of an enormous collection of dolls) from her grand-aunt in

Michigan who had herself inherited the stamper from the first immigrant ancestor of

the family who had brought it from Germany in the eighteenth century. It was dark

wood, stained purple with all the pounding of cabbage, but only marginally rounded

at the edges.

Pickles were discussed. Cider apple vinegar. The air sharpened with memories.

Water kefir. Something similar was made, one of the participants remarked, by her

grandparents. She took some to her parents to taste and her father closed his eyes

and said, “You know, you’ve brought me back fifty years!” In barrels in the corners of

kitchens all over Scotland, the north of England and the northern half of the island of

Ireland, people tended their “ale plant”. Some fed it molasses. It tasted of ginger, and

sparkled slightly.

As she pounded, Courtney talked briefly about other things that could or could not

successfully be incorporated into sauerkraut. Broccoli and kale can give off a

pungent, unpleasant odour, unless used sparingly. Nettles do. Cucumbers need lots

of salt. Caraway seeds work in white cabbage sauerkraut. Eastern European and

French traditions were discussed. including different uses for fennel, and fennel

seeds, and how every society has traditional remedies to increase the production of


The conversation flowed as Courtney moved the discussion back and forth between

cultures, coming back to the sauerkraut, pouring it into a huge jar, tamping it down

and covering it with a cabbage leaf, at least two inches of liquid covering the

vegetables. She talked a little more about developing the “ginger bug”, tending each

topic like the cultures themselves – a moment of attention here, a tweak there.

Culture, like conversation, needs nurturing until it gets active.

Finally, fruit soda, a brew made by boiling up a large pot of water with fruit – Courtney

had redcurrants and grapes (how much? Again, she held her hands as though

holding a small rugby ball to indicate the sort of quantity of fruit required), and sugar

(two cups, but like all Courtney’s advice, this was tempered with the suggestion that

we taste as we go to see what works for us). Mash the fruit, squeeze everything

through a muslin cloth (or the nearest equivalent). Wait for it to cool to body

temperature or about 80 degrees F which is when the starter is happiest, and stir it

all together in a demijohn or preserving vessel. Primary fermentation is when you

add your biotic to the sweet liquid. To add fizz – that’s secondary fermentation – store

it in an airtight bottle and if needed, add another spoonful or two of sugar.

There were sixteen of us there, from France, Eastern Europe, various parts of

Ireland, England, Scotland, and the US. She held us rapt. Play, she said. See what

works. Don’t worry about quantity. Respect tradition and learn as much as you can

but the main thing is experimentation. The art of fermentation is a willingness to fail,

and try again, and fail better. Like the evolution of societies themselves, the very

roots of our cultural history were in symbiosis with bacteria and yeast. Bread and

beer and wine are famously revered. Reviving an interest in their lesser known

cousins – kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, natural soda – marks a welcome and

important revival.

Courtney’s website is www.hipsandhaws.com

Another useful website is the American website www.culturesforhealth.com. It has

endless recipes and instructions for all types of cultured foods. Particularly helpful

are the free ebooks that you can download on signing up to their mailing list.

Fermentation workshop with Courtney Tyler in Common Ground 25 February

The next level fermentation workshop will take place on the last Thursday of this month in Common Ground in Bray. Again it will run from 8-10pm. 25th February 2016. Don’t forget to add it to your calendar!

Come learn how simple it is to make your own fermented delicacies. Learn too about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments.

In this workshop we will cover different ferments than we did at the last event. We will learn how to make a gorgeous greek goats milk yogurt, how to make co-yo (coconut yogurt) 2 different ways, kefir cheese, fermented mung bean pancakes and also go over the basics of facto-fermenting vegetables and pickles.

I will bring some samples of these delicious products for you to taste on the night.

I will also have some mother cultures for purchase on the night for only €5 if you’d like- such as kombucha and kefir.

Google maps for finding your way to Common Ground can be found below.

The address: Beverly Studios, Church Terrace, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Booking is essential- book here to pay in full. The cost is €18 for the evening or the discount of €15 for current Common Ground members.

Contact Courtney at: courtney@fiercequirky.com or call 086-376-4189.

Click here to pay the deposit to book your place. Hope to see you there!


Fermentation Workshop at Commonground

I held another fermentation event in Common Ground on the 4th February. It was a full room once again and we demonstrated making a large batch of sauerkraut in class and talked through:

The importance of live culture ferments, as a food, to increase the bio availability of vitamins and minerals, and to preserve food.

Kombucha, primary and secondary ferment

Milk Kefir

and Ginger bug to create your own easy healthy traditionally fermented probiotic sodas such as ginger ale.

The next one will take place in the same venue on the 25th February. See the attached poster for all that we will cover.

Booking essential to secure your place.