I found an odd looking mushroom as I was lifting some firewood from the bottom row and came across this ugly duckling of a specimen.
At first I thought it was a salamander hiding out along the ground because of the glossy, wet-look, but all the rounded bumps didn’t fit into description. The base of the mushroom is mottled white from another musty mushroom living off it.
As far as I have been able to figure, this vegetation would be part of the false morel family and is not edible. That is just fine with me, it doesn’t look that appetizing anyway.
I had the chance to walk up the hill with my little white bucket to see if the cold weather was actually enough to freeze the Chanterelle mushrooms that were so plentiful this year.
I saw many mushrooms but when I touched them I found them to be nothing more than mush after getting frozen and thawed several days.
The mushroom hunting season is officially over for the year. Or so I thought. A friend of mine believes that I should train one of my dogs to be a truffle hunter.
I am skeptical, but I now have some white and black truffles for the dog to sniff and find. I am keeping them in the fridge for now and give them fresh paper towels each day to stay fresh. I have noticed a wonderful sweet smell that the truffles give off when they are ripe. This is the smell that the dogs find under the carpet of needles below fir canopies.
I may have to have help on training me to attempt training a dog. I’m not sure I have the patience for this.
A cousin of mine had recently spent some time visiting along the Oregon Coast and ran into my go-to-mushroom-guy Park Ranger Dane Osis at Fort Stevens during a mushroom forage training class. The cousin wanted to learn more so gave us a call and asked to go hunting with us.
Since we were going to have a newbie with us on the hike, we also invited a couple of experts who have hunted wild mushrooms across many states. With lots of clothes on and heavy hiking boots trying to weigh us down, we headed up hill.
It was exciting to get the chance to point out the environments that make the Chanterelle mushrooms so abundant in this area. The first mushroom that he found on his own was celebrated by the whole group.
Deeper into the woods we found several species that our experts harvested so that we try to get them positively identified once we were done with the hunt.
Bolete, hedgehog and hen of the woods were some of the other edibles that we had come across during our walk. This large white mushroom was a stumper and we were not able to come to a positive identification.
The outing was a great success with the newbie and the experts getting their buckets full of fresh wild mushrooms.
Now I have to find someone to clean the harvest.
With all the commercial harvesting we have done over the last half century, we have seen some whopper mushrooms but the one Mike found is the heaviest we have come across in recent years.
That is one of my dinner forks sitting next to the large mushroom just as it came out of the woods. The base was two inches thick and it weighed a full pound.
It was hard to get all the dirt and fir needles removed so I had to break off some of the floppy edges in order to prepare it.
Cutting through the stem felt like cutting through a meaty steak.
Since I already had mushrooms in the dinner casserole and this one was broken into pieces during the cleaning process, I cut it into slices and laid it in the dehydrator. The single mushroom filled two trays and that was squishing them in to fit.
This will good addition to a soup or stew during the winter months.
I was lucky enough to find some Shaggy Mane mushrooms the other day. This is a rare treat. I have only come across them three times in all the foraging I have done here on the farm.
Shaggy Manes are one of those mushrooms that are very distinctive. They almost look fuzzy from the way the outer skin of the cap ravels as it grows. While they are in the closed stage they are prime although even after the cap opens and the inside gills turn dark they are still flavorful.
The biggest problem with Shaggy Mane mushrooms are the fact that they do not keep well so you will not find them going to markets. A State Forester once told me that Shaggy Manes need to be cooked immediately as in having a hot skillet right there as you pick them.
I didn’t cook them in the field, but within twenty minutes of picking had them sauteed in butter and atop a juicy cheeseburger.
The first batch of dried mushrooms are ready to come out of the dehydrator.
I prefer to eat the mushrooms fresh, but having them dried and handy in the pantry are good to have when the rain is pouring and the cold winds of winter are blowing.
I add mushrooms to soups, stews, casseroles in these large pieces. I crumble them or grind them into a powder to add flavor to roasts or steaks.
A five-gallon bucket of mushrooms dries down to a one-gallon bag of dried mushrooms.
The rain we had early last week is starting to produce mushrooms in the forest. For those of you who have always been interested in collecting wild mushrooms I must warn you that it could be dangerous if you do not know enough about the fungi to realize that some could be hazardous to your health to the point of causing death. If that is not enough to scare you, then you should not go out into the woods at all. Continue reading