Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chasing those Wild Mushrooms!

 Well, i think it is official that we are completely addicted to mushroom hunting. Last year was the was of the wettest seasons on record for our area, and we had an amazing variety of mushrooms come up on our land.   Ever since last years mushroom season ended, i've been curious about what we would find this year...especially if the conditions are not the same.

Mushroom season starts off early with the morels. i usually start looking around the second week of April. This year i was a bit disappointed to check all my regular spots and not find a thing.  i started checking probably at the end of March and went out every couple of days, but my usual spots appeared to have dried up.  Refusing to give up i continued to look and the first week of May, i stumbled upon a brand new patch that was covered in huge yellow morels! 

We had a good amount of rain in the spring, So as we transitioned into summer Chanterelle season was in full swing.  All year Kenan has been telling me he didn't have time to chase mushroom  with me this year. He was way too busy, he wasn't going to do it again. i was welcome to, but he was staying home.

Then the chanterelles started popping...

Can we say addicted?? 

i'm not sure how many chanterelles we picked this year, but it was probably just as many as least year.  We went out numerous times and completely filled this basket and filled my freezer.

 While kayaking one afternoon, i spotted this Chicken of the Woods on a log near the edge of the river. i almost tipped my kayaking trying to get to it!  i had to climbed onto a floating log in order to reach it, but there was no way i was going to leave it behind!

We started finding the Chanterelles the first week of July this year, and by August we were still finding a ton. While collecting chanterelles we are always on the look out for a few other choice mushrooms.  Now that we knew the Chickens were sprouting, we were out looking almost every day.   i love finding the Black Trumpets, which are often found near chanterelles but are much harder to spot! 

We have a couple logs on our property where we found Chicken of the Woods last year, so i like to go out and check them periodically. Chicken of the woods is supposed to come back every year, although i think sometimes it skips a year depending on conditions. 

While checking on a log that produced really well last year, i happened upon this one!  i was able to fill my basket with super fresh chicken! 

Our plugged shiitake logs also did incredibly well in July and we filled our freezer with those as well.

While checking on a Chicken log, i found my first Cauliflower mushroom.  At the time it was still really small, so i left it for a few days.  When i went back to find it, i found a second one!  It's always exciting to find a new edible mushroom on our land, especially ones that are super easy to identify like the Cauliflower.  This shows the selection on mushroom we were foraging and harvesting at the beginning of August. Chicken of the woods, Smooth chanterelle, Black Trumpets, Shiitake, Cauliflower, Cinnabar chanterelles and Oysters. 

This is one of the two chicken logs we'd found last year and were hoping would sprout again. i  always forget where it is and have a hard time finding it when i'm out looking.  i was out picking chanterelles with my boy, when he said 'i see a log over there covered in chanterelles.'   To which i replied, 'Chanterelles don't grow on wood. They are probably Jack o'lanterns, or maybe it CHICKEN??'   So we abandoned our chanterelle patch to check out the log covered in orange fungus.  It was my boy's first time finding chicken of the woods and it was massive!!  This photo only shows one end of the log. The log curves around a large tree and it was impossible to fit it all a photo because of the angle. There is just as much if not more on the other end of the log. 

We loaded up our basket until we couldn't find any more in it and came home. Kenan went back the next day to pick the rest. It was the freshest chicken of the weeds we've ever had.  We spent a week eating a variety of chicken of the woods dishes and freezing as much as possible.  After this, i don't think i'll ever have trouble finding that log again!  After this harvest it got really dry. All the chanterelles dried up, and the woods were pretty much empty when it came to any kind of fungi growth.

Almost a month with no rain and temps close to 90, it is so incredibly dry here.  The garden is dying back, even the weeds are dry and imagine my surprise when Kenan tell me the log behind the house that i've been watching for 2 years has finally fruited!!  i first found this log two years ago but the chicken was already too old to pick so i have been watching it ever since. Last year, when we had an amazing mushroom year,  it never did a thing. This year when it's crazy dry and drought like conditions it fruits! i really don't understand it.

We have another log we are watching, but so far it's showed no sign of fruiting. Last year it had already produced by this time of the year, so it may also be an every other year log.  Last year we were also still picking chanterelles right now, so i'm hoping if we can get a good soaking rain we'll start to see more mushrooms popping.  

Despite the last month of drought, we've had a pretty good mushroom season. We now have 4 different logs on our property that  we know produce chickens, and two trees that grow cauliflowers, and two that grow Lion's mane.    It's really neat to not only find new edible mushrooms each year, but to constantly be learning about them and learning what trees to look for and what environments best suits each variety.   

Now i need to add the disclaimer, that you should never eat a mushroom that you can not identify 100% by yourself.  If you are wanting to send me a picture of a mushroom you found to ask if it's edible, then you shouldn't be eating it.  

If you are interested in learning about the mushrooms on your land there are a lot of good resources available online. 

A few of our favorite books are Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.

You can also check out Learn your Land on facebook and youtube. 


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