Growing Wild

With Dr Catherine Keena

Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist

Look out for hazel nuts hidden underneath its soft leaves, which are now turning yellow. The nuts appear to be abundant this year and still available. When gathering samples of our native Irish flora for the Teagasc stand at the Ploughing, hazel nuts are usually not to be found. They are quickly taken by squirrels, birds and mice. They are very high in oil and were an important food in the past, with their shells found in many archaeological sites. Hazel, or coll as Gaeilge, occurs frequently in Irish placenames. Hazel was a sacred tree and a noble of the wood in ancient Ireland and is part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Letter to the editor

Dear Madam/Sir,

I really enjoyed the article by Dee Laffan about an ‘Irish Brew’ (tea) in this week’s magazine. It brought back memories of my childhood years during the second world war.

Tea, imported into Ireland, was very scarce and strictly rationed during the second world war. At one stage, the ration was half an ounce of tea per coupon per person!

I didn’t drink tea, so my family of my parents and my older sister had an extra half ounce of tea to augment their ration! Many people dried their tea leaves after use and reused them!

I drank milk and occasionally, if the weather was very cold, I drank cocoa, but cocoa was imported and in short supply too.

I still drink milk twice daily, and coffee, but only drink tea if there is no alternative.

I was interested to read of a multiple choice of teas today, in a very different age.

Yours sincerely

Brigid Flanagan, Co Louth

Number of the week: 1500

The number of hectares being farmed by Ukrainian farmer Serhii Holodny in the country’s northern Chernihiv region.

Picture of the week

‘Bessie’ the Shetland pony has a nice view of neighbouring Roancarrig Lighthouse from her home in Bere Island \ Noëlette Buckley.

Quote of the week

It’s not the way the celebrities are talking about [ozempic] on TikTok. The weight doesn’t just fall off you like that and it does slow down, but I do have a lot more energy now.”

Chef's tip

Margaret Leahy beat me to it (read about her favourite jelly recipe on p36) but it is my favourite time of year – blackberry and sloe season! The farm is bursting with juicy berries this year and the kids and I have been out in full force with bowls and buckets (our hands are permanently stained black at this stage, but it’s worth it). I love a good blackberry muffin and a brown sugar crumble topping. My kids prefer the classic apple and blackberry crumble. As the blackberries ripen at different stages, we tend to pick and freeze, then use the frozen berries in baking or for making jams, sauces and jellies. One of the easiest things you can make with blackberries is a compote: take 500g frozen berries and add them to a saucepan. Add 200g sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, the rind and juice of one lemon and some cinnamon or star anise, if you like. Bring to a boil, then add a slurry of 1Tbsp cornflour mixed into 150ml water. Cook until thickened, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Great with farmhouse cheese, with any dessert or over your morning porridge.