October is here, but where are the Mushrooms?

Okay…I guess I got spoiled  with the incredible bounty of mushrooms we had last fall.  Normally, by this time of year there are baskets full of Chanterelles, king and admirable boletes, shaggy manes and Gypsies to be had .  Where are they all?

We have had a couple of good rains in September, but with the extended dry spell this summer, it just may not have been enough yet.  It has also continued to be very mild, so the soil temperature has not dropped to the ideal temperatures to stimulate fruiting.

I have found a few edibleness, but unfortunately I have been off my feed for almost two weeks. I  have missed a couple of windows of opportunity to get out there and check out those low areas. It’s amazing how laying around for two weeks can slow you down.  I went out for an “easy” walk to check out a couple of my regular places on Friday. I  was just out for an hour and a half, but I was  exhausted when I got home!

Need to start training this week, so I can be ready to foray come the Festival in less than two weeks.

I did find a few things, in particular I found a very nice patch of Pigs ears, Gomphus clavatus. I have found them  in the same place for the last three years.  Each year, I take not more than a third of what is growing, and each year there is more.DSCN1806 DSCN1807 DSCN1809

 

These are very good, meaty mushrooms that I like with gravy made from a pork roast.  Trouble is you need to get them young as they seem to attract worms as they get bigger. So what you may ask, just a bit more protein maybe?

We in the west are pretty squeamish about the whole idea of eating insects. In many cultures and many countries, protein from the consumption of insects is a significant resource.  I recently saw a documentary about how raising insects for human consumption will be necessary to meet our increasing demands for food. Here is a link to the program..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acxbx-DUkL4

Among us mushroom fanatics, there are three groups… those that will eat a mushroom that may have larva in it; those that will not go near one that  has even one and those that having a variable gauge which tells us to eat or not eat the wormy mushrooms.. If we don’t see them, even though they are likely there,  we may eat them, if we see them,  maybe we won’t.

I am in the last group. My reason, because it is often the choicest mushrooms that seem to get infested, like most boletes, and especially procini, or the King bolete.

My father was a fanatical mushroom hunter and eater.  Nothing made him happier than to be out in the “bush” searching for mushrooms.

He picked what we called ‘Red Tops” or in Ukrainian, “Kozaree”. Leccinum aurantiacum.Img-196 repaired Img-186

They were often wormy if not picked within hours of popping out of the ground.  He would take each one, and carefully cut out the wormy bits and keep the good parts.  I remember helping him do this, our hands and mushrooms turning blue-black, oxidizing as the inner fluid of the mushroom touched air.

My mother would then take over.  First she would  boil them for an hour (she said to kill the poisons) then drain and either put them in jars and process them for eating in the winter, or add them to  a cream sauce with onion and garlic.  This was my mothers usual way of preparing mushrooms, in a cream sauce, serve over perogies , meat  or just on good rye bread.

The thing is my mother never really like mushrooms and to this day is somewhat afraid of them. She always tells me to be careful when I am out picking, to make sure I pick only the “good” ones.  When I spoke with her last week and told her I was not feeling well, her question to me was ” are you sure it’s not because of the mushrooms you are picking?”

Back to my short foray last weekend, besides the Pig’s ears I picked I also found a few Chanterelles as well as a few Honey mushrooms. Not many, but a few.  However not one bolete, or the Delicious milk caps!  Where are they hiding? There were so many last year, I got tired of picking them.

I did find one specimen that I have not identified. Actually credit must go to a friend Elen Alexov, who spotted this beauty.

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What is most striking is the bright green cap and the lacy fringe on the cap.  At first I thought it was maybe mold, but on closer examination it wasn’t mold.

The reason  I thought mold was that I found the stump of a beautiful large cauliflower mushroom,  Sparassis crispa. The  problems was that there were bits and pieces of the body strewn all around the base of the tree.  When I picked them up, I saw that many of the fronds were tinged with mold, so someone must have pruned away all the moldy bits and taken what was good.  A shame to had come too late.

The good thing was that whoever harvested it,  they knew to leave a good portion of the base so it could grow back next year.

Not a great deal happening yet, but just down the road from me, beside the mail box, there are some beautiful Amanita muscaria coming up. The amanita’s are always a good sign that the mushrooming season is about to begin.  They are coming up  a couple of weeks late this year so I am ever hopeful that our fungi friends will be coming up soon.

Lets hope for more rain!

Good luck on your forays and hope to see you on the trails some day. coastalshroomer.

 

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