Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mushroom hunting and Foraging Late Summer

 As a novice mushroom hunter, my mushroom hunting has been limited mostly to the spring when the morels are popping. Although i've been learning to identify other varieties, i haven't been brave enough to eat them. Although most wild mushroom are edible, there are several varieties that are extremely poisonous and can cause death if consumed. So i've been more interested in gaining knowledge, than eating mushrooms. The more i learn though, the more i recognize safe varieties with 100% confidence.

This summer has been so wet with rain, that the wild mushrooms are popping everywhere! Each day i take a quick walk through the woods and spot something i've never seen before. When i happened upon this gorgeous patch of chanterelles, i couldn't pass them up.

Chanterelles are easily identified by their shape, color and lack of gills.

Chanterelles have what are called false gills. They are folds in the mushrooms flesh that resemble gills, but run down the stem and can not be easily picked off. Chanterelles do have a few lookalikes, including the bright orange jack o lanterns. So it's important to not only know how to identify the edible mushrooms, but also know their look a like and how to identify them as well. 

We harvested around 40 lbs of chanterelles. We preserved them using the dry cool and freeze method.

Another new variety for me this year is the cinnabar chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus). These are coming up everywhere in the woods behind my house. Their false gills are a bit more defined than the smooth chanterelle, so it's good to familiarize yourself with their look a likes.  

Even after our huge chanterelle harvest i've been going out each day and gathering enough chanterelles for our meal.  They are literally everywhere this year. The coral mushrooms are also prevalent right now. They crown tipped coral are easy to identify, by their distinctive look. Their most common look alike is a false coral jelly mushroom. The false corals grow straight out of the ground, while the true coral is always found growing on wood.

One of my most exciting finds this year is the Chicken of the Woods. (Laetiporus sulphureus). This was my first time finding one, and it was super fresh. Chicken of the woods gets it's name because of it's similarity to chicken meat, both in flavor and texture. i cut it into strips and breaded & fried it and it was absolutely delicious! 

Now that i'm starting to lose my fear of wild mushrooms and feel confident in my identifications, i'm really excited by the variety of wild mushrooms in this area. It's amazing to me the amount of wild/free food that is available to us in our own backyard.

 *disclaimer- i am NOT a mushroom expert. Do not send me pictures of mushrooms asking if i can identify them or if you can eat them. Do your own research, only eat wild mushrooms you can 100% identify. This post was meant to show the edibles i found in my backyard, it is not intended to be used to identity mushrooms you found in your backyard- do your own research! Eat at your risk. *wild mushrooms always need to be cooked and should not be consumed with alcohol.


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