How I Became a SCSHROOM Member

How I became a member of SCSHROOM

Instalment #1…first person interview with myself…How and why did you become a members of SCSHROOM?

David: Well, I had recently retired from a long and fairly stressful career in labour relations, and move to the Sunshine Coast of Canada. I had always been interested in wild foraging and had accompanied my father, as a child in Saskatchewan, on his many mushroom forays. He was a passionate and avid mushroom picker. Every opportunity he got to head out into “the bush” and hunt for mushrooms, he did. He became a bit of a local legend, in that when others came home with empty buckets, he always had ones full.

However, being young and distracted by Rock and Roll and other fancies of a young man, I didn’t really pay too much attention to what I was picking, where we were picking and what we weren’t picking.  So my identification skills were limited to one or two species, what we called “red tops” or ”kozaree” and morels.

The red tops are what I now know to be Leccinum testaceoscabrum, or Orange Birch BoletesImg-196 repairedThese are very distinctive and pretty difficult to not identify correctly. The same goes for morels.

My father also picked other mushrooms; “peidpenki” – now I know are honey mushroomsAviary Photo_130596200280775094 and something we called” krova-peski”, or translated into English, “cows mouth”.  I am not sure what they were; they may have been chanterelles or some kind of Russula.

Now as much as my father loved mushrooms, my mother didn’t.  She was always afraid that my father would poison us with his mushrooms. Even now she is worried that I will poison myself when I tell her I have been out picking.

My mother’s approach to cooking mushrooms was to boil them for an hour, drain and then fry them up with cream, onions and garlic.  I asked her some years later why she boiled them. Her answer was “to kill the poison in the mushrooms”.

I now know that to some degree she was wrong, but also correct in her cooking technique.  Some people are sensitive to some of the enzymes in mushrooms, especially Honey mushrooms.  The recommended ways to cook them is to first par-boil them for 3-5 minutes, drain and then fry them.

My father also told me to only pick those mushrooms that I knew for sure were good and to leave the others alone.

So I had a bit of knowledge of mushroom identification, a fear of the “unknown” mushrooms and the possibility of “poisoning” if I cooked them wrong.  I moved to the west coast when I was 20 and left behind the only mushrooms I knew for sure were safe.

Living out here in the great temperate rain forests of BC, I encountered an incredible diversity of fungi, all foreign to me.  I knew that many were edible and some being choice, such as chanterelles, procini and pines mushrooms. I wanted to taste these, but I needed to be able to be sure I was picking the right ones.

I bought guide books, and went out into the woods, but I was never really confident in my own observation skills to positively identify the mushrooms. What was I to do?

When I moved to Sechelt, I did an internet search and found two mycological groups here in the coast.  They were the Elphinstone Mycological Society, and SCHROOM. I attempted to contact the first group, but found they were no longer active.

So I contacted the second group, SCSHROOM, sending an email to their contact site.  Within a day or two I received a response from the president, Ann Harmer, and was invited to join the club and go on a foray.  That began my journey into the wonderful world of fungi. Here were people who knew the woods, knew the mushrooms and could help me safely identify the edibles.

That fall was my first exposure to the Mushroom Festival and many “expert” mycologists both here on the coast and from abroad.  That was the year I first met Larry Evans, and was blown away by his ability to identify every one of what seemed to me to be hundreds of mushrooms we had collectively harvested.  He knew the common as well as scientific names of them all.

At that moment, I knew what my goal was…it was to be able to do what he did and be able to identify every mushroom that I encountered. But how I though?

I asked him how I should approach this seemingly herculean task. Should I start reading all the books the club had in the library? Enroll in some on-line mycology programs?  His response was simple…focus on a handful of species each year, get those down pat, then move on to a new set the next year.  Before you know it you will have dozens of species that you are able to identify.

That was good advice that I took, but I also became the librarian of the club which gave me access to all of the guide books owned by SCHROOM, of which I spent the winter, spring and following summer reading.

That is my story of how I found SCSHROOM….now how did you find SCHROOM?

Hope to see you on the trails some day

Coastalashroomer

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Spring Time on the Coast

Spring Time on the Coast

Happy Spring to all you shroomers out there!! Man, has it ever been a long, cold, wet or maybe snowy winter.  Finally spring has come and our fungi friends will be along soon.

I have to begin by saying that my left hand is a bit out of commission and I am finding this post difficult to write.  The reason…dislocated my left ring finger, ripped the tendon and pulled a chunk of bone off where it attaches to the “distal phalanges”.  In layman’s terms….I am buggered for at least 8 weeks.

I have to keep my finger in a flexed position, in a splint for 8 weeks…24-7, and then if it doesn’t heal, surgery and another 8 weeks in a splint.  Not conducive to doing much gardening, building, playing guitar, or trying to write blogs.

But the struggle continues and we must press on…

For those who don’t already know it is the 10th anniversary of the founding of our mushroom society, SCSHROOM, here on the Sunshine Coast (Canada).  To celebrate that anniversary we are planning some special events during the season and also during the festival this fall.  Did I mention the dates?   They are October 12, 13, 14th. Stay tuned for more about the festival.

One of the things I want to do to celebrate, is to write about the members of our club…what drew them to the club…how they found the club…what they have learned being a member…why they remain members of the club.

If you are a SHROOM member and want to tell me about your experiences, then drop me a line at forayleader@gmail.com.  Also if you have any pictures to share showing yourself or other members foraging, send them along too.

Here are a couple of pictures for you to wet your appetites.  The first picture is of Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tails)..the top right are some winter chanterelles that I found in Glif Gilker Park in February and the bottom right I am not sure of, but were growing under my fir hedge this spring.  If you can ID them let me know.

Hope to see you on the trails sometimes soon. Coastalshroomer.

 

If a Mushroom Picker Falls in the Forest

If a mushroom picker falls in the forest, do the mushrooms hear, and if they do, do they cheer?  That was the comment that Chris, my walking partner and wife of 43 years made this morning.

Why may you ask did she ask that question? Well, we were on our morning walk up the road to the Clarke Farm to get some eggs. There, in the woods, next to the road, I spotted a mushroom. Because it has been such a tremendously terrible (am I sounding a bit Trump-ish?) year for mushrooms, any sighting is a “must look closer” opportunity.

Off the road I went, onto this rather steep slope, with a creek at the bottom.  I gingerly worked around this big cedar (should have known it would likely be nothing) until I came up to the sighting.  Chris asks “what is it?” I say “just a Russula”.  On my way back to the road, I slipped in to a hole next to the cedar root, up to my hip. It was my right leg, not my left  with the bad knee, but still the left knee complained loudly!!

Took me a couple of moments to determine that I wasn’t going down the slope into the creek, a couple more to look for something to help me out of the hole and a few more for the complaining knee that had to flex rather suddenly, to calm down.

I grabbed a sapling as a life line and hauled myself out of the hole. Too bad Chris or I didn’t bring our phones for a picture, or for that matter a call to 911….”my husband has fallen and he can’t get out of a hole in the forest!”

It’s funny and it’s not so funny.  We were watching the news last night and the stats are that a senior, in BC, falls once every 10 minutes.  Chris tells me I am now one of today’s statistics.

I do a lot of solo foraging and I always tell Chris where I am going or leave a note.  I always take a cell phone with me, and most places I go too have cell service here on the coast.

I am also, I think, in pretty good shape for someone 64 years old, although a bit clumsy sometimes.

So everyone, I took the fall for you today, but be careful out there.

What an Unusual Season

What an Unusual season it has been.

I have to say, that in looking back over the last several years,  this mushrooming season has been the worst I can remember.

I looking back at some of my Facebook posts and complaints I had made about pickings being “poor” in previous years, none of them compare to what it was like for me Sunday.

On Sunday, we had a group foray with  16 of us out in the woods looking for that bonanza flush of edibles.  There were no great finds, I will admit that it was the best foray for diversity that we have had this season.

We found chanterelles, IMG_0444 (1)Boletes, IMG_0465Gypsies, several dyer polypores;

numerous Russulas;  many cortinarius( as is the norm); a few good examples of Smith’s Amanita (the one often mistaken for the pine mushroom each year); a few lactarius deliciosus, and by one of our members a nice flush of pine mushrooms.IMG_0433 (1)

There was enough of pine mushrooms for everyone to take some  home and have a taste, which was very generous of those who found them.

With high expectation, due to the success of the day before, I decide to visit one of my secret sites where I often find pines.  I was totally disappointed with the foray. All I was able to find was one lactarius deliciousus, one small chanterelle and not one pine!!! Not only that, there was nary a whiff of a pine in the area.

For those of you who haven’t met me, I have a very good nose.  My wife often asks me to sniff test something that has been in the fridge a bit too long. Often, when we are out walking down the street, near a restaurant, I am sniffing the air, checking out the cooking  aromas. She says I was a dog or a wolf in my last life, I just  love smells, good or bad.

Sometimes, while sitting there,  I catch a whiff of something, and I will look at my wife. She gives  me the hairy eyeball saying “ so I farted…..get over it”.

As a result of the “nose” I can often smell the pines long before I actually see them.  When I am walking down the trail, scanning the forest floor and breathing deeply, that whiff  lets me know to start searching around for those “shrumps”…pines hidden under the duff or moss.

However, Monday, not a whiff, nada, zilch…and things were still pretty dry where my pine spot was.

Rain is due for the next several days, even the possibility of snow.  I am ever hopeful that there will still be a season, even a late(r) season. Also, there is still to come the incredible abundance of winter chanterelles and hedgehogs that we usually see late in the season.

As always, hope to see you sometimes on the trails out there. And thanks to Hagit Ammer
Nutritional Chef & Educator @http://www.kitchenrejuvenation.ca/ for some of her pictures in this post.

 

Coatalshroomer

Mushroom Foray Etiquette

Mushroom Foray Etiquette

The festival has come and gone, the rains have begun and there are signs that the fungi may be starting to show up.  The spots that have, for the last few years, always been dependable places  I could find some of my favorite species are late.  Some are between 2 and 4 weeks late.

This leads me to think that the effects of climate change are beginning to happen and our coastal area is starting to warm. With climate changes, we are likely to see changes in speciation.  Who knows, just as butterflies are appearing in Artic where they have never been found before, we may start to see different mushroom species fruiting, and ones we have always seen, disappearing.

But this is not my main topic for today.  Today I want to talk about foray etiquette.  What are the do’s and don’ts of picking mushrooms with large groups or with just a couple of friends.

Picking with neophytes, who have never done any foraging, will be different than if you are out with other experienced pickers. With experienced pickers, you tend to spread out more and pick almost like you are on a solo foray, head down, scanning the forest floor, systematically covering a slope.  Often there is very little chatter, unless you come upon a motherlode of chanterelles and your basket is almost full.  That’s when you yell to your partner to come over and help in the picking.

It is quite a bit different if you are with some newbies.  Usually the new pickers are really excited and stick close to you.  There is a lot more chatter and exclamation as they pick every mushroom they see and come stumbling to you, arm extended with usually a Russula or Cortinarius and asking “can you eat it?”  Most often the response is ‘Yes….every mushroom is edible once”.  After a few seconds they get the joke and laugh, but they continue to pick everything they see and come running back to ask you the same question “Is this edible?” . It does get tiring, but there is no better way of learning mushroom identification than by doing field work.

Usually, but not often, I am the first to identify the edibles.  When that happens, I will call a halt and invite everyone to come over and see what it looks like in the duff.  One of the cardinal rules is to step carefully around the specimen, as quite often where there is one there are several.  I then show them how to harvest them….this is the subject of another whole discussion…cut, pinch or pull.  I will leave that for another time.

The usual response of a newbie  is “I walked right by that and didn’t see it.  How did you see it?”  The answer is practice and familiarization.  I don’t actually focus on anyone characteristic, other than “difference” from the general background of the forest floor.  It can be colour, shape or even smell (I usually can smell pine mushrooms before I see them).

Now that the new shroomer kind of knows what to look for, off we go again.  In short order someone yells “I think I have found some” and everyone runs over to the spot and starts to pick.  This is a serious breach of picking etiquette.  Do come over, congratulate the picker on their find, but never start picking someone else’s patch unless invited to do so.

When I am out with novice pickers, I will always invite them to pick in my patch, if there is enough to pick.  Sometimes there are just a few, so either I pick them or invite the novice to pick them. Another basic principal of learning is reinforcement and reward.  Reinforce the identification with the reward of mushrooms to take home.

I generally will pick more mushrooms than the novice (due to a better trained eye and nose).  At the end of a foray, we will often lay out the mushrooms we have found and identify them.  That is when I share the bounty, great or small, so that everyone goes home with something. Not everyone agrees with me on this point, but it builds comradery and gives everyone a chance to taste new mushrooms.

One other important rule of etiquette, deals with when a friend takes you to one of their “special” sites. Always be thankful,  never visit the site without your friend, or tell another when the site is.  There is a lot of competition for those “great picking sites”, and as more and more of our local forests are logged, many of the remaining sites get over picked.

There are also a number of other rules that I live by.  Never pick every mushroom in a patch, for several reasons.

  1. Leave some to spread their spores for next year
  2. Leave some for our forest brothers and sisters
  3. Leave some for the other shroomers who may consider this as their “special” place
  4. Don’t pick mushrooms you don’t intend to take home…if they are not edibles, used in dyeing or for medicine, leave them standing.
  5. Leave the forest like you were never there.

If any of you have other rules, let me know.

Hope to see you on the trails someday…Coastalshroomer

Rain-O -Rain-O

Rain-o-By Chilliwack 1970…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvIIVF5swYc

What a great song by a great Canadian band and from the west coast too!!!I loved and still love this band, and it was the album cover from one of their records that made me want to migrate west from the prairies in 1973.  Actually I don’t think it was the album cover so much as the inside page of the album….I think…

Anyway, it was a picture of How Sound, taken from the Sea to Sky Highway on the way to Squamish. I just loved that picture and for me so represented the west coast.  There was ocean, Islands and mountains.

It was early September, and everyone was back at work or at school.  I had tried college right after high school, but only made it to Christmas. It was the first time I was away from home on my own, partied really hard, did little actual studying and ended up being booted out of the program by Christmas. I worked over the winter and went back to university the following fall. However I just couldn’t focus on what I wanted to do.

In the early 70’s there was lots of people experimenting with different “substances” and philosophies, which I too experimented with.  At the time I also met people who had been out west to “Van” as we called Vancouver at that time. It was supposedly this really cool city out west, set in the mountains, near Chilliwack and even had a University on the top of a mountain!

The other place I had heard of in BC was Nelson. This was another city built on the side of a mountain, in the Kootenays.  This was where the finest weed was grown, the place was full of hippies, the chicks were all really cool, and you could live on a commune if you wanted to. This was where I wanted to go.

So I persuaded my older brother and first cousin that we needed to head out west. They agreed, we all quit our jobs, packed all our stuff into one duffle bag each, hooped in my cousin’s red Cortina and headed west one cool and windy September day.

You may ask, so where is this story going and what does it have to do with mushrooms?

Well, it is early September, and September has always been my favorite month. As you can see by my intro, it was in September that I made one of the most important decisions in my life.  I left home and moved out west.  September is always a time of change and new beginnings. Summer is ending, the harvest is begun, people return to work and to school, the rains begin and the mushrooms start to flush.

There you have it…the rains begin….the mushrooms start to flush…all the summer people go back to the city… the trails are empty and you can begin to get the scent of those pine mushrooms in the woods.

Saturday we had the first rain in nearly 3 months.  The weather was hot and dry, the ocean surprisingly warm, the crabbing pretty good.  However, we are at stage three water restrictions and haven’t been able to have a campfire or beach fire for two months.

I welcome the rains but we need more. I have been out in the woods and have found a few chanterelles, very small, very dense but very tasty.  I want more!!!! I want some boletus edulis; I want shaggy parasols; I want admirable boletes; I want hedgehogs; I want the Prince; I want lobsters; I want pines!!!!

Ok, Ok, OK…..let’s all hope for more rain and let’s get out there this next week and see what promise the rains may bring.

See you on the trails some times

Coastalshroomer

SCSHROOM 8th Annual Festival

SCSHROOM  FESTIVAL 2016

UPCOMMING EVENTS

Events (Forays, Shows, Meetings, Presentations & More)

 

Friday, Oct – 14

10:00 AM ● Location TBA

Members Only Foray(s) – to collect specimens for the show and cooking demonstrations on Saturday, Oct 15th & 16th.  One or more forays will be conducted by experienced foray leaders in preparation for the upcoming festival. One or more emails will be sent out to members with details including starting times and places. Stay tuned!

 

7:00 PM  ● Roberts Creek Hall

Daniel Winkler Feature Presentation
Title: “Flavourful, Fancy and Foul Fungi“ $10 at the door
Details: http://mushroaming.com/Flavorful_Fancy_Foul_Fung

 

Saturday, Oct – 15

11am – 4pm  ●  Maderia Park Hall
8th Annual Mushroom Show – Hundreds of mushrooms have been identified and are on display for everyone to view. There are also vendors, mushroom cooking demonstrations and other mushroom related activities. Join us!

 

Sunday, Oct – 16

11:00 am – 4:00 pm  ●  Foray and cook-up of local edibles ● Location TBA

Guided Foray and Mushroom Tasting with Daniel Winkler – Price $30.00 per person.

Take a walk on the wild side with this year’s visiting guest speaker, Daniel Winkler, On Sunday SCSHROOM is offering a guided mushroom foray, accompanied by adventurer and mushroom Guru, Daniel Winkler. This foray will lead you on a hike to find, identify and pick common and delicious examples of our local fungi. Following the foray, we will meet in one of our local community halls to taste some of your finds from 1:30 to 4 pm.  We will go, rain or shine, so be prepared for either. Bring hat, gloves, warm clothing in layers, sturdy shoes, a lunch and something to drink. Optional items are a knapsack, basket, knife, walking stick, and camera.

 

This is always a very popular event and sells out early. The cost is $30 per person, limited to a maximum of 30 participants.  Once we reach the maximum number, you can still register to be on our stand -by list in the event of cancellations.

 

Once registered and have paid for the foray, we will email you where to meet for the Sunday morning. We will inform you on Saturday of our meeting place where the foray will start.

 

Tickets for this event go on sale October 1, 2016 on-line at our website.  So go there now to www.scshroom.org, click on the Events button and it will take you to where you can purchase your ticket.

 

A wait list will also be created for this event. If you register and pay, but are unable to attend, you have until midnight, October 13, 2016 to cancel for a full refund. Refunds will not be given after that date, unless we are able to sell a ticket for the vacancy.

 

Monday, Oct – 17

Thank You Foray with Daniel Winkler

10:00 AM  ●  Location TBA

Festival Volunteer’s Appreciation Foray with Daniel Winkler.

Festival volunteers will be invited to join Daniel Winkler on a foray to discover the local mushrooms and fungi in our area.

Still Waiting for Rain

Still Waiting for Rain

What happened??? Started off looking like it was going to be a stellar year for mushrooms, but everything is on hold just now. I have been out to several spots over the last couple of weeks checking for shroom sign…nada…zilch…fee-goose-mauc-kum( Ukrainian slang for bugger all).

It was so promising earlier this summer with early flushes of chanterelles and porcini, even a few gypsy mushrooms and one really early pine.

 

Now there is not much else out there but a few Russula and a lot of velvet pax.  That is good for the dyers but not for those of us looking for something to put in the pot.

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Now it isn’t a complete bust out there. There are places on the coast where people are finding edibles. For example, I myself was up to Ruby Lake Resort to enjoy Aldo’s Sea Food Tasting night. We decided to enjoy the food and wine and stay the night.  We went off on a walkabout the resort and came upon a host of white chanterelles.

I picked them, gave most of them to Aldo, seeing as it was on his property, and kept a few for myself. Things are wetter up that way than they are in my neck of the coast.

On the way home the next day we stopped in on one of our fellow shroomers. She had a box full of lobster mushrooms and offered us some to take home.

I have been out and about looking for potential new areas to explore and have been up and down Dakota Ridge 5 or 6 times this year.  Found some potentially nice areas, but not much sign yet.I found these beautiful violet cortinariuswp_20160928_14_01_08_pro

Three years ago, on September 26th, I and two friends went to the same places I visited yesterday ad this is what we found three years ago.dscn0764

 

This is what I found yesterday.DSCN1641

Let’s all do the rain dance so that we get a good flush or two before the Festival in two weeks.

Hope to see you in the woods once the rains begin…. coastalshroomer

Porcini Heaven

Get out there and start your pickings!!!

I went for a drive this afternoon with my brother-in-law up Dakota Ridge way just to take a look and enjoy the view out over the Salish Sea.

On the way down, I caught a glimpse of “tan” off at the side of the road….I stopped…got out and what did I find?….A beautiful huge bolete….and upon closer examination….a King bolete….I looked left then right and what did I see ….more porcini.  They were everywhere!!

Three years ago, on about the third weekend of September, a group of us went up the Rainy River and found porcini everywhere.  This was a similar experience….at about the same altitude, and growing out of the banks at the side of the road. The only signifigant difference was that this is 2 months earlier!!

My only regret, besides several having a larva problem, was that I didn’t head up there a day or two earlier…..maybe more would have been free of infestation.

The message to all those reading this…head out…go high and start picking!!!

One more thing was… take a look at the white one…are there such things as an albino porcini???

Hope to see you some time on the trails..coastalshroomer.

 

 

 

Father’s day Ramble in the Woods

Happy belated father’s day to all you “fathers” out there and also happy first day of summer!

Yesterday being father’s day gave me the opportunity to do something that I love to do and not feel guilty that I wasn’t at home working on one of the many projects/chores are on my Honey-d0-list.

I was suppose to have spent the day with one or more of my daughters and grand children, but due to last minute changes in plans and also rainy weather, they didn’t make the journey to the coast. They all called and wished me a happy fathers day, we chatted, I went out for sushi with my wife, then came home in the rain.

The sun came out mid afternoon and I was feeling the “call”, so I decided to go  a wandering to check out some of my favorite shrooming sites.

I don’t know if I am imagining things or I am actually getting better at this foraging thing, but when I visited a couple of my more productive sites….I swear I got a very slight whiff of pine mushrooms!! I also visited one of my chanterelle sites and got a different, but distinctly chanterelle-ish scent…..oh how the mind plays tricks on one….or maybe it’s the inner canine coming out in me.

I do have to say that I was very pleased to see how damp and succulent looking the forest floor was. I haven’t seen it looking like this in more than two years.  I hope that this abundance of  rain we have had over the last couple of weeks is doing it’s magic and awakening those sleeping mycelium.

I also discovered a new trail that looks very promising and plan to go explore it once the mushrooming season is in full swing.

What did I find yesterday? You may not believe it, but I found two beautiful examples of boletus edulis…AKA porcini; king bolete, cep and steinpilz.

But alas as you can see….they were mostly consumed by the local wildlife..

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You  can see this slimy devil sliding away from what looks like some wasabi peas…which where right next to the porcini. I hope the wasabi peas gave it a bit of a “hot foot”.

Duane Sept’s book Common Mushrooms of the Northwest does say that the season for porcini runs from June through October. I have not found them this early before, but maybe some of you have?

It may be the cool rainy weather we have had the last couple of weeks that is fooling the fungi into thinking it is the fall…lets get out there and see what else is flushing.

Just to let you know, these two specimens were right at the edge of the trail and I am always amazed that someone didn’t recognize them earlier for the prize they are.

On the way back I was letting my eyes go “soft” just scanning the forest and shlack.…there to my left was a beautiful oyster flush on a standing dead alder. By the way…”shlack” is one of those generic words used to denote a magical/unexpected  appearance of something which is regularly used by an Irish friend of mine. I like it.

 

I also saw some young dyers…velvet foots… which I will g.o back for later this week and collect them for the Fungi and Fiber Symposium this coming fall.

Not a bad day at all….found a potentially good new foraging sight; inhaled the beautiful aromas of the deep green forests; found some early porcinis and also a lovely flush of oyster mushrooms….. all in all a great Sunday-father’s day ramble in the woods and on the pages.

Looks like it’s time to organize some club forays as the season may be starting early this year. Hope to see you on the trails someday…happy hunting..coatalshroomer.