Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mushroom Foraging

Last week, I brought another group of friends to visit Adam Vickerman at Cafe Levain. He had sent me a message earlier in the week saying he had received some fresh chanterelle mushrooms and I was excited to see what he was going to do with them. He used them in a few of the seven courses that he served to us and I was in love. Chanterelles are typically a beautiful orange or yellow color, have a slightly fruity smell and have a fairly rich flavor. Chanterelles of this quality can retail for as much as $50/lb.

Since we heard that chanterelles did grow here in our area, one of the friends that was there with me and I decided we wanted to see if we could find some of our own, and our first mushroom foraging trip was planned.  Now keep in mind, neither of us had any idea what we were doing and this was more for fun than really expecting to find any cache of expensive mushrooms.

We ended up going out on an extremely hot and humid day following a few days of heavy rain, so according to the research that we had done, it should have been prime timing to find some mushrooms. We went out to a heavily forested land that my friend uses for deer hunting later in the fall. It's too bad we weren't hunting for mosquito's on this day because we had plenty of them. After dousing myself in repellant, they were still swarming but not biting quite as much.

As for mushrooms, we weren't so lucky. We found some mushrooms and picked them (NO, we didn't eat any.) just for the fun of finding them but since we only really knew how to identify the chanterelles, it was mainly just for the experience of seeing what was out there. Our thought was that we'd identify them after we got home, but most are still sitting in the bag they came home in since I haven't really found a good guide yet. If any of you are mushroom aficionado's, please feel free to tell me what I've got.

Although we didn't find what we were looking for, it was still a lot of fun and it's amazing the different way you look at a forest when you're looking for mushrooms than if you were just hiking around. They are beautiful things and it takes a keen eye to be on the lookout and not pass them by.

The next weekend, we decided to give it another try and went to another area with a little more dense forest. Mosquito's were even worse but we trudged through the forest, following the fresh deer trails and keeping our eyes open for any small treasures. This time we were a little more lucky. I spotted some bright orange mushrooms under some branches and as I went to investigate I realized they were all over the place. I realized they weren't chanterelles but they had to be something good right? So we collected them along with a few other varieties we thought "looked" good.

We went to the library on our way home to check out some books on mushrooms and after some investigation, we determined that we had found some lobster mushrooms, and best of all they were edible! Also among the others we positively identified were some stump puffball.

The down side of actually finding something the second time is that now I'm hooked. Every forest I pass, I am wondering if there are some beautiful mushrooms just waiting to be found. So maybe I'll do some more research and become a little more proficient in my mushroom identification skills.

I can't wait to share with you what we created with the mushrooms we found, so check back soon!

1 comment:

  1. SO fun - I'm jealous! Maybe now I'll be inspired to try out foraging next year...