Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mushroom Mania

Late summer arrives and so do the mushrooms. The last 3 years have been so dry that there haven't been many, but this year...WOW...
I have identified 63 different varieties here on our property, some are deadly poison and some are choice edibles. Some are as small as the head of a pin with thread for a stalk, and others are larger than my head!

One of the strangest looking is the BLACK TRUMPET, it looks nothing like any other mushroom, there is no "cap" on it, it is shaped like the bell of a trumpet, an open vase from top to bottom. Three years ago I went out and picked a basket full and fixed them with a cream sauce and peas. MMMM so good! I didn't see any for the last two years and I had decided that I had over picked them and hadn't left enough for them to regrow the next year, boy was I wrong. It had to have been the drought and not my over picking because this year they are all over the place, I have tempura fried them, made homemade BLACK TRUMPET soup, and still have many many more to be able to try another recipe with them without over picking!

Zack and Judson, the kids of one of our "regular campers" did a mushroom walk with me earlier this year and we discovered a new one I hadn't seen before, I showed the boys how to check the spore print and color to determine what kind of mushroom it was and we discovered that it was an unappetizing looking edible mushroom. The SHAGGY STALKED BOLETE. I told the boys to go and pick three of them and we would saute them that evening and see what they tasted like. I took the skillet with some butter in it down to their campsite after our last camper checked in that night, I sliced the three mushrooms and stems and sauted them in the skillet over the campfire. The boys couldn't wait to see what they tasted like and as soon as they were cooked Zack tried the first piece, it was a slice of the cap, an he immediately exclamed that they tasted like cheese! He was right! Swiss Cheese! Judson then got a piece of the stem and said he thought it tasted like lemons! He was right too. None of us expected to have two totally different flavors come from the same 'shroom but we all agreed that they did really taste like cheese and lemons.

We had a TWO COLOR BOLETE come up and grow and grow and grow, I took a picture of it with my hand fully open and not able to cover the cap, three days later Steven took a picture of my face beside it....well you can see how big it got. It is one of the choice edibles but there are a couple of other 'shrooms that look similar to it that are not edible and Steven didn't want me to try this one in case it was not what I think it is. He just doesn't have the sense of adventure with wild food!

Well that's it from Mark the amateur mushroom mycologist.