Mushrooms For Winter

A batch of dried mushrooms are ready to take out of dehydrator.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.

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The Golden Season

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

Early Sign Of Fall

Since the Gator was in the shop, my right hand helper and I headed up the hill on foot to work along the skid road that Mike had punched through with the bulldozer.

A few early season chanterelle mushrooms.Not needing to travel the logging roads, we took a walking path meandering through the forest with switchback paths and steep inclines. About half-way up the hill we intersected with one of the naturally growing wild mushroom patches and I found a few golden lovelies barely poking out of the carpet of fallen fir needles.

It was quite the surprise to find them because it usually takes a good inch or more of rain and 10 days of that soaking rain to sink into the mycelium layer below the surface for the mushrooms to grow.

I was thrilled to find these few chanterelles and harvested them for a sauce at dinner that night. Now with several days of rain forecasted for the area, the 10 day countdown will begin in earnest.

 

Starting To Find More Mushrooms

A trip into the forest showed some new varieties of mushrooms this time.

Lobster mushroom.This was the first lobster mushroom of the season, it was firm and delicious. They do have a hint of a seafood flavor.

The lobster mushrooms are very delicate and they will ‘melt’ when they get rained on so it is not always possible to find good ones to harvest.

Cauliflower mushroom next to my hat.Mike spotted a cauliflower mushroom as he started down the hillside. In order to see the size, I threw my hat into the picture.

This one is really small compared to ones we usually harvest so we left it to grow for another week.

Cauliflowers are a specialty that are used in Asian cooking after soaking in a light salt brine and slicing into thin strips.

The Chanterelles are still not profuse yet, barring any killing frosts, they should be coming up by the bucketful.

 

Looking For a Mushroom Bounty

A colorful shelf mushroom found in late summer.As you can see from the picture, this shelf mushroom dwarfs my work glove on the right.

This specimen is called Chicken of the Woods. The outer edges are rubbery and I have been told they are edible when very young and tender, and they do have a chicken-ish flavor. Since I have yet to speak to an actual person that has consumed this particular variety and will share an eating experience with me, this is one that I will stick to just photos for now.

This was the only mushroom I was able to find on my walk through the woods on this day even though we had some good rains roll through the area about 10 days ago. It appears that the woods were dry enough with the string of 100 degree days about a month ago that the showers were not enough to do any more than just dampen the surface. The woods feel dry and dusty as I walked along deer trails and through the understory of brush.

Now, I will have to wait for at least another week before edible wild mushrooms will pop up in the woods and I will begin to ‘hunt’ again.

After The Work

My last post made it sound like I am a workhorse. Quite the contrary, I find time to enjoy life by getting some play in once in a while. It seems that sometimes the play is just as hard or harder than actual work.

After I had trimmed up the last tree on the logging road, I went for a woodland foray. Mike had told me that when he was driving the bulldozer up the logging road to bring a turn of timber down off the hill, he saw a mushroom that was growing.

Now you have to understand a couple of things about Mike. First, he has an uncanny sense about finding certain things like mushrooms, deer, elk, lost cows, a single bolt that fell into a pile of hay, or a miss-placed tool. He also has a mind like a steel trap and can remember a spot in the woods 250 feet off a deer trail that has a curve before a steep pitch, a fallen cedar snag on a north slope with a small dip on the other side that in the fall, supports a patch of hedgehog mushrooms.

So when he tells me that he saw a mushroom off to the side of the logging road, I keep my doubts to myself and go look for the mushroom I am positive he imagined.

Small branches from fir trees grow toward sunlight and block logging road.He told me to follow this deer trail heading toward the head of the canyon off the left side of the road just past the 2 steep pitches.

From the beginning of the deer trail, I could not see any mushroom, I could barely see the deer trail. I fought my way through the tangle of branches, at about 100 feet in, under a clump of sword fern, I saw a mushroom, one mushroom. Old eagle eye spotted one mushroom as he was driving the skid road. Amazing!

Since dinner would be rather puny if I only added one mushroom, I continued the walk around the head of the canyon. It really was a pleasant day and my work was done, so I continued. After another half hour of searching, I did find a few more chanterelles to add to my collection.

It was a good day, and the mushroom, elk sausage pizza that night was wonderful!

 

Making the Most of the Garden

First red potatoes of the season.I could not wait for the first potato plant to die before digging in for some baby red potatoes. This was the haul from one tire that surrounds and separates my potato hills.

Some of the potatoes are not so baby, I was surprised by just how much growth there was under a plant that was still trying to produce the underground tubers.

I had just harvested a head of broccoli that weighed about a pound and a half. Since it all headed out at the same time, I needed to come up with a meal that would use up the proliferation. This is where the garden and my freezer come in handy.

A crockpot full of beef, broccoli and mushrooms from the farm.

Large Crockpot Beef Broccoli

Overnight slow cook the toughest cut roast you can find in 1/2 c. soy sauce and 1 cup pulped Yellow Transparent Apple, garlic, onion.

Around noon, remove roast from crockpot and chop into bite size chunks

Reserve a cup of the meat juice from the pot and return chunked roast to crockpot still on low

! 1/2 hours before dinner, raid the garden

I added chopped potatoes, summer squash, kale, tomatoes, the whole pound and a half of broccoli and the handful of Chanterelle Mushrooms that I had left from my walk in the woods.

I mixed the reserved meat juice with 3 Tablespoons of Corn Starch for thickening, a splash of rice vinegar and added it to the crockpot.

Dinner was ready right on time, and my day was not spent in the kitchen.