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Wild Greens


Of course, foraging involves identifying a lot of greens. Looking down at the bit of weed sprouting up by your foot and saying, can I eat that? Will that be good in a soup? We were plucking and nibbling along as Darina pointed out these particular edible greens.

The sorrel, was sweet and juicy, if that makes sense for a green. In fact, those Irish women I mentioned before said they had a friend whose parents made him since childhood pluck sorrel wherever he saw it growing (on walks, while running errands) and nibble on it. They didn’t know the name so just called them “juicies” because they gave off these bursts of flavor when you bit in.

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We also bit into this bittercress, similar to watercress, but with a slightly bitter flavor.

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Later, we also tried landcress, which had an intense spicy flavor. The Ballymaloe salads are so good because of the attention paid to all these little green bursts. When you have a bite of salad, you are getting a mouthful of spicy, bitter, sweet, fresh, and crisp all at once.

My absolute favorite green from the foraging course was another type of sorrel with these large leaves. I know when you see this, it looks like just another green, but the flavor was so delicious, so pleasing to the palate. Fresh and sweet, and addictive. (I was eating the leaves like potato chips, one after another…)

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Darina was all about this plant, the comfrey.

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She mentioned that the pigs love comfrey and that it has more potassium than farmyard manure, so is good for growing potatoes. (You lay the leaves right on top of the potato trenches). We also got a recipe for comfrey fritters, which involve deep frying the leaves in a flour egg batter and sprinkling it with cayenne and freshly roasted cumin seeds.

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I think this last plant is just beautiful. It’s called borage, and you can see how it has a blue glow to it. Bees love borage and it’s nickname is “bee’s bread”. Pollinating bees like to hover around it (We don’t have bees here at the moment. They were taken away because of a knocking-down-hive accident, but will hopefully be back while I’m still in the course.) The leaves and stem are dark green, but the plant is covered with prickly white hairs that give it a mesmerizing silvery look. I should tell my housemates, if they can’t find me, I might be sitting and staring at the borage. Enjoy!

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