Monday, October 11, 2010

Mushroom Foraging

Recently a friend of mine told me he was to go mushroom picking the following day. I begged, pleaded, offered my first born, and a ride up there (the deal clencher), and he agreed to take me. This is special because not only did he have a complete novice to teach, he was also exposing me to his “secret spot”, which is kind of a big deal amongst foragers.
We decided to dress up in lederhosen to mark the event, and Charles, pictured below, spared no detail. Thus, the mushroom gods smiled upon us this day, and we found chanterelles.

The first thing to look for is the conditions which the mushrooms like. Moist, with good drainage, slugs, a soft ground (not compact) of flat pine needles, lots of moss and not too many ferns, some sun access. Also, if there are an abundance of other mushrooms growing in the area, this is a good sign. Chanterelles are golden in color and have a trumpet-like but rippled cap and are generally quite low to the ground (in my little experience).

I have been lucky. On both occasions that I have found mushrooms, I found the first one of the day immediately. This does wonders for the morale. It gives me much more motivation to bushwack through wet forest through spider webs and over slugs in quest for these nuggets of gold. 
Can you spot the mushroom?
I’m better at identifying them now too. You really have to look, as these clever little devils are the same color as fallen autumn leaves. They usually grow in a cluster like fashion, so if you find one, search a 1 metre radius, and you’re likely to find more.

I was nervous, last time I attempted the area, I crossed a bear. A sign at the trail read, “An active pack of coyotes hunt in the area, keep your dog leashed at all times and be aware of your surroundings” I picked for roughly an hour. I got roughly a pound.
At home, cleaned with dry cloth and paring knife (I’m a beginner, haven’t got a mush-brush yet), I sliced and dried in the oven for a few hours on lowest temperature. Despite having them  shrink to a fraction of the size in the oven, the flavours took on a real concentration that surprised me.

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