Black Trumpets (Craterellus fallax) – Pizza, Mushroom Brie and more

craterellus fallax wild mushrooms

Bill, being an honest and trusting soul, set up this photo without remembering that people have been known to stuff baskets with filler and put a layer of mushrooms on top. So just for the record that IS four pounds and nine and three-eighths ounces of black trumpets and the only reason it isn’t more is that we left the littler ones to grow larger for later.

Now what?

brie with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet brie is one of the easiest, tastiest things to do with black trumpets and you don’t need many, either

pizza with black trumpet mushrooms

Trumpet and caramelized onion pizza is also quick and delicious.

Jackpot, bonanza, mother lode… all descriptive enough in their ways, but the inescapable conclusion is that the thesaurus, never having gone mushrooming and found hillsides blanketed with black trumpets, is simply not up to the task.

black trumpet craterellus fallax in woods

Look closely, then imagine this coverage going on for a considerable distance in all directions

We’ve had good years before – 2009 was among the more noteworthy – but this one is already off the charts and it’s only August. Other things being suitably propitious, they’ll keep coming until the end of September or later.

And not just for us. Reports of abundance are widespread and local greengrocers are selling them for around $20.00 a pound.

Useful things to know about Black Trumpets (Craterellus fallax)

1. They’re notoriously hard to find because they blend so well with the forest floor. Plus they’re small; a couple of inches tall and about an inch wide at the top is par for the course. The largest one we found the day of the basket was a bit more than 4 inches tall and 2 inches or so across at the flare.

hunting black trumpet mushrooms craterellus fallax

Plus they’re frequently under ferns

2. They’re unusually durable, in the field and in the ‘fridge, because of a two part cell structure that makes them less watery than most common mushrooms.

Store loosely wrapped in waxed paper – not plastic! – and as long as they were dry when put away most of them will last indefinitely, gradually becoming rather wan-flavored dried mushrooms. Which brings us to

3. Black trumpets are good candidates for drying. The thin flesh desiccates quickly and the woodsy, smoky flavor is pretty well retained.

Reconstitute simply by adding to whatever preparation; doing the soak in boiling water/save liquid routine is unnecessary.

4. Dried trumpets reduced to powder are an excellent seasoning. Try a spoonful or two in the ground meat for hamburgers; add to pan sauces for steaks and chops; incorporate in pasta dough; add a pinch to punch up the flavor of  just about any mushroom dish.

ALL PURPOSE COOKED BLACK TRUMPETS

Trumpets should be cooked thoroughly, but are delicious used as though they were raw – in sandwiches (great with avocado!), salads and things like the stuffing for devilled eggs. To cook without diluting flavor or adding the flavor of fat, just spread in a single layer on a plate and microwave on high for 45 – 90 seconds, depending on the size of the mushrooms and power of your microwave. They’re done as soon as they’re wilted and evenly black.

TRUMPET BRIE

The better the brie the better the finished product, of course, but don’t hesitate to make this with the standard industrial triple cream sold in better supermarkets from coast to coast.

All you do is sandwich a layer – or two – of chopped cooked trumpets in a split wedge of cheese, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate to let the flavors mingle. The longer the better (within reason) but give it at least a day. Allow to come to room temperature a couple of hours before serving.

black trumpets on brie

Historic image showing all-purpose cooked black trumpets. I used to make this with whole split mushrooms. Beautiful but otherwise not so good; you get more flavor – and more mushroom – if you chop them and the cheese is easier to cut and spread.

For best results, split the cheese in half (or thirds, if you’re going for triple decker) while it’s still cold, then let it warm up and soften before pressing on the mushrooms and reassembling.

TRUMPET PIZZA WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND TWO CHEESES

The mushroom flavor is strongest when the pizza is lukewarm, rather than burn-your-mouth-on-the-cheese hot.

For one 14-inch pie:

2 tbl. butter

1 large onion, cut in 6 wedges, the wedges sliced across to make strips

1 lb. pizza dough

4-5 oz. black trumpet mushrooms, cooked as described above

2 generous tbl. fresh thyme leaves (omit if unavailable)

3 oz. Gruyere, the drier and nuttier the better, shredded

8 oz. Mozzarella, shredded

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they’re reduced to golden brown threads, about 20 minutes. Season with salt after they’re cooked. Heat the oven to 450.

2. Roll the dough very thin and fit it into a 14  inch pizza pan, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of overlap for the rim.

3. Spread the mushrooms over the dough in an even layer and sprinkle on the thyme. Spread the cooked onions over the mushrooms. Loosely, gently roll up the rim.

4. Bake until the dough has risen and is starting to set and brown, about 5 minutes. Working quickly, take the pizza out of the oven, sprinkle on the gruyere, then the mozzarella. Return to the oven and keep baking until the cheese is bubbling and browned and the dough rim looks well toasted.

Photographs of basket and trumpets in the wild by Bill Bakaitis.

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5 Comments »

  • Charles S. Said,

    Wow! Here in Rhode Island, I feel lucky if I find a handful of black trumpets.

  • I can hardly take in the size of that basket of mushrooms–and what a great idea for dressing up a bit of brie!

  • Sue Hart Said,

    just ate dinner and your creations look so good, I am hungry with a full stomach. crazy

  • Keiko Sono Said,

    Hi Leslie,

    Both recipes look great! The trumpet brie is especially tempting…too bad I have to wait a whole year.

  • Chuck M Said,

    Been really lucky in SW Michigan this year, got about 3 lbs this year so far….finding nice specimens and will be trying the Pizza tonite, and the brie tommorrow…keep you posted.

    Excellent news, Chuck! Do please keep us posted; and please don’t hesitate to send your own recipe ideas.

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