Saturday, January 15, 2011

'shrooms of the season

What did the Boy Mushroom say to the Girl Mushroom?

"I'm a Fun Guy!" - Joke credit to my old friend Tom McDonald.

It's mushroom season!

We went out on a foraging trip with our friend and neighbor. We can't divulge where we went, but it looked kind of like this:

As I've said before, looking for mushrooms is a peculiar thing. At first you don't see anything. Look at the forest floor, the fallen leaves and rotting wood. No mushrooms here.

Nope. Oh, what's that bit of orange?

Suddenly, it's like a light went on. Or like they all started glowing*. Suddenly you see them. They're hiding under the leaves. They're everywhere. Sometimes, you even see a bump or a bulging of the leaves above the mushroom. Brush the leaves gently away, and see what you might find.

These are Cantharellus cibarius, the California native chanterelle. Yellow as an egg yolk, in our woods they can grow to be the size of a baseball mitt. We found scores of them. I had to caution myself not to be greedy and take more than I could use.

These were medium size, and almost perfect.

If you don't know what you're looking for - DON'T EAT IT! I don't trust myself to eat a mushroom I picked on my own. Our neighbor is an experienced mushroom-hunter, and we only brought home the mushrooms we found when we were with him.

You clean them gently, brushing off the loam and leaf debris, and using as little water as possible. They keep in the fridge in an open bag for a few days. To keep, saute them in butter until they give off their liquid, cook until the liquid is gone, then cool and freeze.

This was our haul. Mushroom soup, perhaps? Mushroom and cream tossed with fettucine? Mushrooms and shallots baked in a tart?

*An actual glowing mushroom is a bad thing. The Jack-o-lantern mushroom, or Omphalotus olivascens, is a chanterelle look-alike that actually does glow in the dark, faintly. It will make you very sick if you eat it.


vacuumslayer said...

How fun. The photos and the mushrooms are absolutely gorgeous.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I really have to find some mycologists to hang out with- chantarelles beat nettles (and I love nettles) anyday!

Max Sartin said...

Liked the pictures, but the joke at the beginning is what hooked me. Just the kind of joke my dad would tell when I was a kid.

Sue said...

Mushrooms are my favorite...although I've never had "fresh picked" even though they are found around here. I'm chicken...afraid someone will poison me! Right now I'd just be happy with mushroom weather!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

You were so lucky to be taken along to gather those delicious mushrooms! Enjoy :)