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B Edulis

Wild mushrooms

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At the risk of ruining a good thing, I just have to tell you that it's the season for hunting wild mushrooms: porcini, meadow mushrooms, puffballs, bear's head, gypsy, honey, shaggy mane, black trumpets, chicken mushrooms, hen of the woods, hedgehogs, and many others. I just returned from a weekend in the Catskills where we dined on wild mushrooms every night, and I came back with a full basket for the week ahead.

There's no reason why you can't learn how to safely collect and eat wild fungus yourself. There are several varieties that are easy to identify, have no poison look-alikes, and would cost a mint for days-old, beat-up specimens, if you could find them. And it's such a fun way to get fresh air and take a walk in the woods. Kids are especially good at spotting mushrooms.

You need to invest in a couple of reference books; I recommend the Audobon Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary Lincoff, and The Mushroom Book by T.Laessoe, A. Del Conte, G. Lincoff. Both have good general info for the beginner and even cooking tips.

If you're a beginner, focus on the easy and safe varieties: shaggy mane (coprinus comatus), hedgehogs (hydinum repandum), porcini (boletus edulis), black trumpets (craterellus cornucopiodes), chicken mushrooms (laetiporus sulphureus). Although Meadow mushrooms (agaricus campestrus) are plentiful on lawns (they're wild version of button mushrooms and portabellos), you need to be more careful with them, because there are poison mushrooms that superficially resemble them.

Identify the mushrooms using 2 or more books, be sure you've ruled out look-alikes, and that there are no poison look-alikes. If they're a type you've never eaten before, test them by cooking and eating a spoonful and waiting 24 hours. Then enjoy with gusto!

After a few years you'll have a large enough repetoire that you'll almost never come back from a walk in the woods empty-handed.

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I haven't picked any wild mushrooms in a long time. A few times I picked puffballs, which are delicate in texture and tasty-but you have to pick them before they go "puff". Then there was the wild mushroom lasagna incident, where I stripped a neighbor's tree stump of some sort of tree ear. When I fried up a bit, it got tough as leather, so I pureed it before sauteeing and adding to the sauce. Some of the people who ate the lasagna thought it was fabulous. For me, it was a little earthy. Then he removed the tree stump. No more tree ears.

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We recently joined a mycological society in the Pacific Northwest.  It's such a fun hobby, although I must admit, I'm not as adventuresome as my Husband when it comes to eating "wild" mushrooms.  The nice thing about being in the club is one can go on hunts with the real pro's.  If your mushrooms pass their inspection you can feel pretty safe eating them.  They also offer courses and other interesting events.   One thing learned in class & on the net is that some people get a stomach ache when eating shaggy manes if they have alcohol either 48 hours before or after eating those mushrooms.   It sure is a pleasure finding chantrelles and boletes in local woods.  BTW, I'd love to come across a patch of matsutakes some time!

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Hi Blue Heron, hunting this fall in the Catskill/Hudson River Valley area has not been good because there has been very little rain. I did find a five pound puff ball in late September. It had a 12" diameter! I cut it into steaks....

I'm already dreaming of morels in May.....

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Hi B Edulis, I love that name!  I've never eaten a puff ball, but I can hardly imagine a five pounder, wow!   I think our mushrooming is just about over for the year, the mushrooms are getting kind of soggy now with all the rain we've had.  I, like you, am also looking forward to the morels next year....

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this thread reminded me...

in late october i was walking across central park (manhattan) and right in the middle of the great lawn i saw mousseroun growing. i stopped and looked around slowly and they were everywhere! that was very cool. i guess since they stopped letting dogs go on the lawn the mushrooms now stand a fighting chance.

i've heard something about a guided mushroom tour in the park. anyone got any info on that? i can just imagine a bunch of egulleters on that trip, driving the tour guide nuts!!

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My mom is bringing me (suprise) Porcini from her yard. Last year she had 5#!

She lives in Mendocino,CA. I am the 'non scientific girl". I suprised my mom the las time I was there for Thanksgiving. She said "sorry no mushroooms-not enough rain"- uhm- in Mendocino there are other things to do. I was, instantly going to prove my mom wrong. Look under the Monterey Pines in the heavy depth of pine needles. You will only find a slight curve upwards.

(I do get creeped out because of the huge instance of lymes disease). I am now miss mega anti tick. White socks(tucked into your sweatpants). A sweatshirt or coat (with a hood)- those ticks, they want to drop down on your head. I have never had a tick in my life- they are my big fear along with tropical centipedes!.

Anyway, I found major porcini, and blew my mom away. I placed them all in on of her mushrooming baskets. It was a cool thing for me (I have a mother and father who are mrand mrs brillant scientist(all the one that I would be standing on in the forest when I was younger- perhaps made up for it. I was concerned that she suddenly thought of me as a major rival! I just said that maybe mom, there were a few times that I was paying attention.)

Here are a few items of attention:

My momwent to Berkeley (and taught there for her entire co/career)

My dad is an interesing man. He went to UCLA, Berkeley, and got his doctorate (in zoology). All of this is relative.If money was about knowledege, we would be rich. My greatgrandfather started the jr college system in america. The english library has a huge painting of him. The greek theatre has a chair with his name on it My grandparents went to Berkeley. My greatgrandfather was president of Berkeley.OOh yah, my grandmother was valedictorian of her class at Boalt (I am not sure of the year right now- I think that it was 1926-29). My grandmother gave me all these cookbooks. She also taught me about scarves. I have her recipe for enchiladas from the 20/30s. I have so many amazing recipes. No one had yeast, baking soda or baking powder.

This all has a round about way with food . Food has always been so important in my family. I cried when my mom gave me my greatgrandmothers cookbooks. I also have a book that is dated 1852 that I have used cookie recipes from (and learned a lot about yeast). When people ask me about "Mexican food"- well in my family, we have been cooking it (and loving it) for around 100 years!!!)

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The boss of my local Italian restaurant is a golfer. Every time he plays at this time of year he picks mushrooms and serves them in his reataurant. The porcini he finds are particularly good, although they ended a couple of weeks ago :sad:

On a trip to Norway some years ago, I went to the home of the guy I was meeting in a small town 30 miles outisde Oslo. His wife was the local "mushroom inspector", which is an official state-appointed but unpaid function. She told me that every town and village in Norway must have someone appointed to the job, and trained by the state. Mushroom picking in Norway is a national pastime, and it is illegal to eat fungi without first having them checked by the local inspector.

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The boss of my local Italian restaurant is a golfer. Every time he plays at this time of year he picks mushrooms and serves them in his reataurant. The porcini he finds are particularly good, although they ended a couple of weeks ago  :sad:

uh oh, macrosan..., we heard from the experts at our mycological club that golf courses are one of the worst places to pick mushrooms because of the high concentrations of fertilizer and petsticides they use to keep the greens looking so nice. Same goes for lawn mushrooms, if one uses fertilizer. We used to enjoy bolete's/porcini's from one of our friend's back yard until we heard about this :sad: . It has to do with the abilitity of the mushrooms/mycelium to highly absorb these chemicals that is bad for us.

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Thanks a lot, Heron. I'd send you a longer reply, but I have to get to the hospital quickly to have them check out some current symptoms of ..... aaaaaaaaarggggghhhhhhhhhhhh

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After nearly a week of very welcomed rain, I picked about five pounds of chantrelles, both white and yellow, in about an hour today. Looks like it is going to be a far better year than last in the Pacific Northwest.

dave

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this thread reminded me...

in late october i was walking across central park (manhattan) and right in the middle of the great lawn i saw mousseroun growing. i stopped and looked around slowly and they were everywhere! that was very cool. i guess since they stopped letting dogs go on the lawn the mushrooms now stand a fighting chance.

i've heard something about a guided mushroom tour in the park. anyone got any info on that? i can just imagine a bunch of egulleters on that trip, driving the tour guide nuts!!

This Central Park mushroom education thing has been going on for at least (oh please, I cannot believe that I know this...) thirty years.

Look in New York Magazine in the section of 'Things to Do'. It is usually listed there.

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I recall that my parents used to toss mushroom peelings and scraps onto the back lawn. Quite often we got a small crop!

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hmmm.. i was just thinking about mushrooms :wink:

has anyone tried one of those grow your own mushroom kits?

saw this grow your own morels kit online looks interesting

any first hand advise on growing them would be appreciated

i think by all mushroom lovers :laugh:

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origamicrane - I live in south east London and last year I found about 10 morels growing in my driveway! so excited - when I looked at my mushroom book it said they liked disused railways lines and rubbish tips - yep that's pretty consistent with the conditions of my drive - people seem to mistake it for a bin. Have refused to let Mr O do any major cleaning incase they don't come back :biggrin:

will keep you posted over the autumn - fingers crossed

oh sorry - don't know anything about growing them on purpose :unsure:

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hmmm.. i was just thinking about mushrooms 

has anyone tried one of those grow your own mushroom kits?

saw this grow your own morels kit online looks interesting

any first hand advise on growing them would be appreciated

i think by all mushroom lovers 

Tried one of Fred Stamets' (Fungi Prefecti) morel kits one year. Might suggest checking his web side;l ots of interesting stuff. Didn't know much about morels and so semi followed the directions, add some organic (maure) on my own. Did this in an area of the garden. Dog promptly rooted eveything out. That was the last effort to raise morels.

  This Central Park mushroom education thing has been going on for at least (oh please, I cannot believe that I know this...) thirty years.

Look in New York Magazine in the section of 'Things to Do'. It is usually listed there.

Was at a national mushroom foray once and met a man who was the registrar at one of the NYC universites. Musrhooms in NYC? Thought he was joking, but he told me their club met one Sunday each month and went to one of the city parks for a hunt. The big deal was when they'd have a weekend outting to upstate NY.

Dave

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On a day that has now become somewhat legendary in the Kinsey family, my parents awoke one morning around 15 years ago to find the front yard awash in morels. They picked them all -- an obscene amount -- and freeze dried most of them in my mother's lab. They still have a bag of them in the freezer.

We have occasionally found incredible amounts of Craterellus cantharellus near our place in the Western North Carolina mountains, but not this year for some reason.

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Do the USA morels come up in the spring or autumn? The type that we get in southern Australia comes up in the spring (like the common european species) and is found associated with certain trees in hard to find locations - so this talk of railway cuttings and lawns awash with morels has me staggered.

This summer has been incredibly wet in Scotland, the stores started selling chanterelle about a month ago, hopefully this means it will be a good mushroom year.

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Our morels in the Pacfic Northwest start at the end of March and some years last into the first part of July. We hunt at higher altitutes as the season progresses.

On the 4th of July we picked probably five shopping bags full of morels at about 5,000 feet in a huge burn area. Pretty amazing to see the power of an intense forest fire. There were morels growing on the sides of charred trees where the wind had blown the spores. Next year's fruiting won't be as good but it still should be very productive.

dave

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