Hunting Wild Mushrooms – Porcini, Chanterelles, Lobsters and More
I probably should have titled this “Harvesting Wild Mushrooms;” there are all kinds of them just about everywhere (or at least everywhere in the Northeast). Our vegetable gardens may be soggy – even without Irene this has been a mighty rainy summer – but in the silver lining department there’s a bumper crop in the woods and fields.
Oddly, we haven’t found too many Cantharellus cibarius, the chanterelles usually sold under that name. Instead, we’re getting boatloads of the smaller sorts, including the Craterellus tubaeformis, aka Cantharellus infundibuliformis in Bill’s picture and the ever-popular black trumpet (Craterellus fallax).
Also lobster mushrooms (scroll down for collecting and cleaning tips) and a great many boletes.
This includes Boletus edulus, or king bolete , the species called Porcino in Italy. Friends familiar with both insist our kings are not as royal as true Italian porcini. In my opinion, they’re plenty delicious enough – far better than other common boletes – and absent the genuine article it’s difficult to compare.
Being married to an expert mycologist puts me next to a grand assortment of less-well-known edibles, about which I will not speak just now since you really need to know what you’re doing before it’s safe to eat them.
Actually, you should know what you’re doing before you eat any wild mushroom. After all this cheerleading I’m sorry to be the ghost at the banquet, but I keep reading about wild mushroom feasts where a grand variety is served to people who have not tried them all before and it’s making me nervous.
Most of the time, no problem; the combination of good will and a healthy fear of legal retribution seems to be working pretty well. The scary part is the chance of trouble; sooner or later, it’s pretty much inevitable. The more different mushrooms consumed, the more likely it is that one of them will provoke discomfort – or worse – in at least one of the consumers, and if you’ve served a whole bunch of different species it’s going to be near-impossible to figure out which one’s to blame.
Even mushrooms long classified as the safest of the safe can cause bad stomach upsets. Sulfur shelf, for instance, has long been classed as one of the “foolproof four” because it’s so easy to recognize, yet there are many (myself among them) who cannot eat any of what has turned out to be a whole class of related mushrooms.
Short version: persnickety as they may appear, Bill’s Long Lived Mushroom Eaters Golden Rules are worth following.
This festival of links is just a taste of our blog entries over the years. There are many more of Bill’s expert collecting tips and a few of my favorite recipes in the mushroom section. It’s not logically organized( time for an upgrade!), so scrolling can take a while. If you know what you’re looking for, try the index first.
* Michael Kuo, in themushroomexpert.com.
Photo by Bill Bakaitis