What a mushroom season! Sounds just like my last blog entry. However, that was about this past September. Now it is mid-November and the mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest lowland forests are still growing strong. Now if I was ungrateful I could say, I am done collecting, cleaning, cooking and freezing mushrooms. I already had the thought crossing my mind "I hope next year will be a poor year, so that too many of these freezer mushrooms are not going to remain uneaten. But luckily there is so much more about mushrooms than just being a delicious and nutritious locally sourced food item. There is all the joy observing all these beautiful fruiting bodies growing in such uninhibited abundance covering dark forest floors and dotting meadows and parks. After three poor years, especially 2012 with the driest combined August & September on record. Well, that fungal power play is a result of fruiting suppression in previous years and consistent moisture, although October had only about half the average rainfall with 1.5 inches, while the October average is 3.5 in. However these nearly 40mm in October were apparently sufficient, since the soils got soaked in September by 6 inches (1.5 is the average). By now the forest are full of slimy, deteriorating Brittlegills (Russula), Amanitas, Slippery Jacks (Suillus) and Boletes that peaked weeks ago. And right next to them are hordes of fresh Fibercaps (Inocybe), Poison pies (Hebeloma), Elfin saddles (Helvella), Funnelcaps (Clitocybe) and Milkcaps (Lactarius). And don't get me started on honey mushrooms. I never seen such abundance of Armillarias, having hundreds growing in my lawn, a clear indication that our way past prime apple trees are seriously on their way out. Usually I don't really pick honeys for the table, but I can not let them all just go bad.... So they ended up in phillo dough rolls jazzed up with fried apples, onions, parsley and bit of Riesling and cream. Quite enjoyable these honeys, but which edible mushroom wouldn't please the palate with such a delectable treatment. Back to talking of late fruiters, we also had a great flush of candy caps - Lactarius rubidus, but they still await processing beyond drying. Anyway, enough verbage, time for some photos.
First the edibles....
During an outing on Nov. 13 we found Golden Chanterelles (Cantharellus formosus), all freshly grown. It must be at least the third flush or so, Winter chanterelles or Yellow feet (Craterellus tubaeformis) and hedgehogs (Hydnum umbilicatum)! Also there is a bottle of Chanterelle Vodka. The freezer is already full! What to do with all the chanties. Can't just let them go bad in the woods, right?
So I tried chanty vodka, though I really do not care for Vodka or these kinds of hard liquors, but chanterelle vodka is a different issue! Yummy! I just put some cleaned chanties in Vodka. It really takes the aroma on very nicely.
Sparassis radicata also known as Sparassis crispa. This is a huge, slow growing, long lasting mushroom and one of the best edibles.
More details on my Pacific Northwest Edibles page
A beautiful cluster of Honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea group, probably Armillaria solidipes = A. ostoyae). Hundreds of Honeys seem to be all over this November.
Though this cluster was encountered in the woods, in our yard two ancient apple trees that are tolerated for providing wildlife housing, are surrounded by a hundred honeys and each of them has giant fruiting out of their half rotten stems. I am just sharing this to indicate I had a real reason to give them yet another chance in my kitchen. So they were fried up with onions, deglazed with white wine and finsihed with a bit of cream and broth. While honeys do not offer too much of a consistency, even a solidipes, the fungal taste was fully sufficient to m ake a great meal rolled up in phylo-dough, but which mushroom wouldn't?
Candy caps (Lactarius rubidus) are renowned for their maple syrup-like taste, but when they are fresh there is only a very faint burnt aroma that is not easy to detect. However there is proabably half a dozen smallish reddish to brown Lactarius that could be mistatken for candy caps. In short, they are quite difficult to identify until you are familiar with them. Candy caps only reveal their true nature after carefully drying them, carefully means a slow low temperature drying as most mushrooms appreciate anyways. And just then you will clearly detect their maple syrup-like aroma. However, our Pacific Northwest version is just not as pungent as its California relative, whose odor once dried will fill any room and add a very special flavor to any desert, cookie or sauce. More Candy cap details on my Pacific Northwest Edibles page.
In some years in the PNW this a common lawn mushroom: Leucoagaricus leucothites. Formerly this beautiful mushroom was known as Lepiota naucina. It is reputed as edible, but since it shares so many key characteristics with deadly Amanitas, such as white cap, gills, stalk, annulus and spores, the only thing missing is the volva and the deadly Amanitatoxins. Thus it is much safer not to try it out.
Gymnopilus luteofolius, the Yellow-gilled Laughing mushroom growing on wood chips in our yard. It has a fibrous partial veil and a rusty orange spore print, which might mislead to a Cortinarius identification. However, Corts are ecto-mycorrhizal and this is clearly a saprobic mushroom feeding straight of wood. Its bitter taste is typical for Gymnopilus. Just like the more infamous Gymnopilus spectabilis, this G. luteofolius contains the hallucinogen psilocybin. However, I have no idea in what concentration.
A patch of huge Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia). Check out my finger tip on the lower left. This is a widespread ascomycete in the order Pezizales. It showed up on soil we had moved the previous year. There was at least 20 clusters, but most were smaller. And yes, this brilliant orange, cup-shaped ascocarp is supposedly edible. I tasted a fresh piece and there was not enough taste that I would pick some.
One of the annual highlights: The Puget Sound Mycological Society's Wild Mushroom Show. It was PSMS 50th show. And this year we had 3000 visitors for our two day event. Saturday alone we had more visitors than in any show in the past. All the mushrooms growing everywhere generated immense interest. In addition, there is more and more talk of mushrooms in the media and more and more people discover wild mushrooms as an awesome food. I took the photo right after opening. It got way too crowded for a couple ours Saturday early afternoon.
Pål Karlsen cooked up a storm while I was working on a mushroom presentation. This breakfast included a winter chanterelle omelet (Craterellus tubaeformis), 6 types of king bolete preparations of Boletus edulis, Boletus edulis var. grandedulis and Boletus regineus, grilled caps of Milkcaps (Lactarius deliciosus) and Gypsy mushrooms (Cortinarius / Rozites caperatus). What a feast! Come back soon, Pal
I went for some suburban mushrooming one morning. I found 3 species and one more variety of of Porcini / King boletes: Boletus regineus (pictured), B. edulis, B. edulis var. grandedulis, and B. barrowsii. Boletus regineus originally described from California is an oak associate. It was my first find in Washington state.
What a season we have!
Boletus erythropus, or at least what we know as B. erythropus growing in Breitenbush, near Detroit, Oregon. There is no point in keeping up with the latest taxonomy of B. erythropus and turning it into B. luridiformis, since this West Coast bolete is different from its European namesake anyway. In general on the Pacific West coast, most mushroom hunters regard all red-pored boletes as toxic. However, this is not the case.
Boletus erythropus = B. luridiformis is widely eaten in Europe and also in East Asia. And I already enjoyed it several times in Switzerland, Austria and Tibet. So I had cooked it two years ago after finding it in Breitenbush and again this fall without any ill effects. Not as good as a porcini, but still nice firm flesh and an enjoyable taste. Just watch out, uncooked or under-cooked it probably will cause digestion trouble. However, since they seem to be very rare, NOT eating them is probably the best solution anyway. Having settled that question of edibility I will let them live unless they show up in greater numbers.
Chalciporus piperatus, the Pepper bolete is a smallish spicy tasting bolete. These are very colorful specimen, usually they are much duller, especially there pores. However, these were encountered growing under oak, so they might be a different variety or species than the more common conifer associate from the PNW.
The colors of the tubes blew my mind!
Entocybe nitidum formerly also known as Entoloma nitidum is a smallish member of the pink spored Entolomataceae that likes to grow on decaying wood.
Many Ramarias are such beauties, but unfortunately many are hard to identify.
Hypocrea (=Podostroma) leucopus
Hypocrea (=Podostroma) leucopus
Breitenbush Mushroom Conference: The Final Kick!
Breitenbush Mushroom Conference: The Final chunks!