Halló and thanks for reading my Crowdfunder page.
My name is Oddný Cara and I am on a mission to make cracking Icelandic food and drink and whilst doing it, be part of saving the ash tree that is dying out around the world, with the Ash in the UK being particularly badly affected.
How do I aim to help this incredible edible tree? With each product I sell via my company Öskuhús
Being of Viking origin, originating from the Westfjorðs in Iceland I have always loved the ash tree, it is the tree of life 'Yggdrasil', home to Thor, Loki and Freya.
I have worked hard to make sure that all my packaging is compostable, plastic free and ocean friendly and I can proudly say I am super happy with the results! (YaY)
Who am I?
A born and breed Icelandic award-winning chef and restaurateur. I am a food, coffee and spirits judge for the great taste awards and the guild fine of food. I have met such incredible fellow chefs, food lovers and creative foragers on my journey. And with the help of industry legends like John Wright from River Cottage and Lee Morton from Food, Fire, Knives I have been able to learn about the ash tree.
This is when I discovered it as all edible!
As mentioned, I originate from the Westfjorðs in Iceland. The food of the land has been imprinted in me since I was a young girl, I was raised to minimise waste and maximise local produce. Plus, when I was young, I learnt all about knives. It was inevitable I would love food as my Grandad was a master knife smith, with the only knife shop in Iceland. So, talk of food, food tools and what will cut the mustard was a constant topic.
Why do I need your help?
I created a business making Icelandic inspired products utilising ash tree in all we do in hope to rescue this incredible tree. And just like so many Covid-19 has hit me hard.
Below I hope I can explain why I am passionate about this and why you wouldn’t just be helping me but be part of a sustainable initiative.
So what do I do at Öskuhús in a nutshell or in Icelandic Hvað gerum við hér í Öskuhúsi í hnotskurn
I make icelandic inspired products, and they all include or are made from the Ash tree.
This can be an infusion. It can be utilisng its oils or enhancing flavours by using tintures or steeping methods.
I also use, dehydration, smoking, pickling and or evaporationg techniques. At times only adding the ash tree element is enough, however other times a combination of one and two or all above is needed.
What products do I make and what am I about to launch with your help:
Over the last two years I have worked tirelessly yet super excitedly to create the following products combining Icelandic flavours (which take me back in time each time I smell them and taste them) and the ash tree. The biggest challenge has been getting the balance of the ash flavour correct with the other desired flavours. However, I am there now and am so proud of what all of us that have been involved have achieved.
I have also been working with tree organisations such as Future tree trust to see how the sale of my products can help save the ash tree.
Products I have now ready to go:
• Icelandic inspired Ash tree coffee
• Icelandic ash tree tea blend
• English breakfast tree blend created in honour of Covid-19 essential workers.
• Summer ash tree tea blend
• Icelandic ash tree alcohol
• Liqueur tree alcohol
• Glögg / Mulled Wine tree spirit
I have tested all the products at market stalls, events, pop-ups, private events and sending samples and evolving them according to feedback and will continue to do so as the range grows.
After all – A product is only as good as its taste!
Why focus on the ash tree and is it good for you?
Just like the superfood Turmeric – the ash tree is a superb source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, it goes one step further and also has neuroprotective properties. This really piqued my interest. Could there be something right in front of our noses that shares the magic the yellow root has.
Through my extensive research I have official document to support the benefits including the EU medical report.
All elements of ash are edible. These incldue:
• The leaves,
• The bark,
• The seeds (keys)
• The roots
• The natural ash water within the trunk
I never harm the tree. I only ever use elements that will regrow or need to be trimmed back. The same way you prune a rose, I prune the tree making space for fresh growth. This is very important to me.
Why did I start Oskuhus?
There are three reasons why I do what I do;
First; I missed the flavours of Iceland, my home country. Therefor I decided to do something about it. Create them. I was always taught as Ronja ræninghladóttir would say from Astrid famous character. „Thinking about it, isn´t going to make anything happen, so go on and do something about it.“
Secondly; Ash trees are dying out all over the world from a disease called Ash dieback. The trees hold onto incredible medicinal properties that need to be tapped into according to the European Medicine Agency of Sience Medicines Health.
Thirdly; Having studied old Viking saga‘s at Uni I have always had a special connection to the ash tree as in Iceland the ash tree is known to us through Norse Mythology and we refer to it as the Tree of Life Askur Yggdrasil. It is home to Thor, Loki and Freya.
Therefor I dedicated 2 years in studying the edibility of the ash tree to see if I could combine my two passions. Iceland and nature.
Why have I chosen to do the products I have done:
I love love love coffee. The aroma, the taste of a great morning or that perfect sip after a beautiful meal. However, I was struggling to get a decent black cup of coffee that wasn’t an Americano. Nothing wrong with that but to enjoy a black cup of coffee you want it to be smooth and full of complex flavours. You want it to change from a darker taste to a smoother as it gets colder. I also love an acidic taste that dances with your tastebuds.
This proved difficult. Hence, I started by setting up my own Café, restaurant and bar. I would attend food markets and combine my love of Icelandic food and drink. I worked with small independent suppliers where we worked together to create these flavours.
And voila! The idea of Öskuhús was born.
Why not make the products that I was so passionate about.
Given I rely on my coffee and tea’s in the morning I started working with real food
gurus on how we could best create these. Then the stress of having an eatery and start developing products I realised how important a tipple every now and again was. I was constantly wanting Icelandic or Nordic booze so again here we are with what I think are three really tasty and exciting products.
And the best bit each time someone enjoys one of these they have helped towards saving a super important tree.
Products aside, you might now be asking why should you care if the Ash tree dies out or not?
The loss of the ash tree would have devastating consequences for the British eco-system. We have the largest population of ‘ancient’ trees in all of Europe and the ash tree is a huge part of this. It is also one of the greenest woods for materials, from cabinets to flooring and sports goods such as cricket bats. It provides home and food to so much wildlife.
Talking about money for a minute. Ash tree is also often the carpenters favourite as you can work with it green so to speak. It needs less work to be used. Hence a profitable tree.
It’s also been well documented that the actual monetary cost to Britain could be as much as £15 billion pounds if we don’t find a solution.
The ash tree is vital to the economy of both humans and wildlife.
Here are articles supporting this.
For us its history is enough but we are viking geeks at heart. It was the Viking tree of life called Askur (ash) Yggdrasil. However history aside – the ash tree is one of the most common trees in the UK. There are 150million of them accordingl to the forestry commision and only 5% of them look to make it. ONLY 5%! That means over 142million will cease to exist. That is crazy! Think of all the birds, owls, insects, deer, foxes, hedgehogs and other animals that take shelter under or in these trees. And not to mention the oxygen all these trees provide us with.. Also the scary thing is when they go it leaves other trees more vulnerable.
How am I trying to save the Ash tree?
I work with incredible organisations focusing on saving the ash tree. The main one is Future Tree trust.
Our contribution is for every product sold we give a % of sales to the projects of saving the ash. It is not permitted to plant more ash trees in the UK...However Iceland is the only country that has not been affected at all by ash dieback so we are trying to find ways of how we can plant more over there to build up reserve stock.
So all in all it would be devastating to lose this tree!
Why do I need your help and what will your money go towards?
The ash coffee is totally ready but I need help to get it out there and the tea pretty much ready to go!
I wanted to launch all products at once so I had a product portfolio for people to try. To better explain the mission and goals of Öskuhús, however with the current climate I was only able to get one product completely ready – and that is the coffee.
Up until now I have self-funded everything; working part time jobs and catering anywhere and everywhere. I had contract work for all of 2020 that would have financed everything, the coffee, tea and spirit production.
Then, Coronavirus struck. Hence why I am coming to you.
They money would go towards:
- o Help get the products out there. I.E sponsored posts, send samples to press etc
- o Getting the teas into production (stock, packaging)
- o Getting the alcohol into production (stock, bottles, design, labels)
- o Securing the unit for longer and getting it alcohol production ready
- o Logistics – securing a supply chain
- o Creating an awareness campaign for the health benefits our amazing trees have and why they are so important.
Has the ash tree been used before like I am using it?
Not how I am using it. And that is the exciting part.
In the past it has been used in several forms. The keys or seeds have been pickled or used in salads. The tree trunk can be tapped for water. The leaves and bark have been used in medicinal teas in Europe, however…
No one has used the elements of the ash tree to make Icelandic inspired food and drink as far as I am aware. Or used it to make coffee and Nordic spirits! This is why it is an exciting time to be involved in a product that is new, aims to make a difference and be part of a movement helping to make notable changes to the environment.
We have an opportunity to do something amazing, but I need your help. I want to utilise all the wonderful properties of the ash tree and in turn plant more trees and fund more research. I want to save the ash but in order to do that I need you to come with me.
Please support me. Let’s get my product to market and let’s start saving trees.
I truly belive that if you want to see change and make it happen you have to be that change.
#savetheash and eat #nordicnosh #compostable #eatandsave #oskuhus #icelandic #beautreeful