Have you ever wondered beyond the lines of your own urban garden to forge in the wild and mysterious realm of Mycology? Mushroom hunting can be dangerous, exciting, and educational. There are thousands of species of mushrooms world wide. Some recognizable like chanterelle mushrooms, some mysteriously disguised. Hidden where you might least expect. In plain sight, and visible within your reach.
Wild mushrooms can be deceiving. Some take the form of deep sea coral reefs, small heads of cauliflower, golf balls, or wild turkey tails— even cold weather icicles. They peek, they protrude, they hide, and they hang. They sometimes lurk inches from your sight. Winking at you, possibly from within a tree trunk or a pile of leafs that have begun to mold. Wild fungi will tease you from high above your head, or from a lateral view.
WHILE FORGING, KNOW THAT MOTHER NATURE IS IN CHARGE— SHE WILL CONSTANTLY REMIND YOU.
WHILE FORGING, KNOW THAT MOTHER NATURE IS IN CHARGE— SHE WILL CONSTANTLY REMIND YOU.
Mushrooms have intriguing old world names such as, “Candy Caps”,”Witch’s Butter,” “Shaggy Mane,” and frightening ones too, like- “Death Caps.” Some mushrooms turn blue or red when they are bruised; others glow in the dark. When you find yourself deep in the moisture of the forest – this is when you know you have hit the money. Keep your eyes open, and trek slowly- the treasure is upon you–you just haven’t found it yet. Take this moment to be silent. Absorb the details behind the species you are hunting. Where it lives, when it shows, and what it looks like and its false twin.
If you have not forged for Fungi before, chanterelle mushrooms Musare among the easiest wild mushrooms to identify. They are void from any deadly look alikes. The only possible toxic mushrooms that could be confused with the Chanterelle are easily identified. The Jack-O’-Lantern, of the genus Omphalotus.
True Chanterelles have deep wrinkles or ridges underneath their caps, but do not have plate-like gills. Omphalotus species have true gills. When you break open the cap or stem of a Jack o’Lantern, the flesh inside is the same orange color as the skin. When you break open a Chanterelle, the flesh is pale, creamy white. Also an easy signal for a beginner.
Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) grow from the ground in a symbiotic partnership with trees. They love to live with Oaks, Maples, Beech, Hemlocks and Douglas Furs. Usually found at the base, they can span some from twenty to twenty-five feet away. Moisture is the key. Chanterelle mushrooms are dependent on rainfall — ( or in my case, fog. The drought of Northern California has lead all of us to depend on the dense morning fog that rolls in from Pacific Coast.)
A good clue is if they are present, the ground is grassy or contains leaf litter. And, remember, they are wood loving. In the event you find one…know there are more. At this point, you should tread lightly— not to crush any below you. The best time to forge for any mushrooms are about two days after a heavy rainfall especially when the sun re-appears and peaks humid weather.
Photo Courtesy: Wild edible
Bring water, a snack, a journal, few pens, a flashlight, a minimum of two reliable mushroom identification books to cross reference, a few brown paper lunch bags, or weaved basket, a soft bristle toothbrush, gloves, and a sharp knife. Some hunters carry a mesh laundry bag – the latter will assist the forest by dropping spores along your trek. Never eat a mushroom you cannot positively identify. Ever! Eating the wrong wild mushroom will lead to death or illness. If you are in doubt, throw it out.
Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises, and More (David Arora 1986, 1991); Mushrooming without Fear (Alexander Schwab 2007); and Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America (David W. Fischer 1992). Also, look into regional books for your exact geographical location. Consider joining your local Myological Society.
Document your find by photographing and proceed with a journal entry by looking up your find in your field book. Cross reference your find. Write down the time, date and the type of environment including the weather conditions. Examine. Cut the mushroom at the base. Follow the guide on what to look for when identifying. While experienced mushroom hunters may debate the merits of cutting—versus pulling—most cut. Pack your find away and continue on your trek.
The first step in processing Chanterelles, or any wild mushroom, is cleaning. Pull out your soft bristle toothbrush, which should be part of your hunting gear. If found in clusters you will need to pull, or cut, them apart for a good cleaning. Watch for grit that has work it’s way into the stem as the mushroom grew. Once you’ve cleaned your harvest, use them right away, chanterelle mushrooms are best when fresh and will last about ten days in a paper bag refrigerated.
Chanterelles are highly prized for their flavor — they own a subtle balance of apricots, creamy butter, black pepper with an earthly finish. Their rich flavor pairs well with white wine, pasta, eggs, anything in a light cream sauce. They are best when they are the leading flavor of any dish. Chanterelles also make a decadent soup.They’re beautiful in risottos, omelets, quiches, or frittatas. They pair well with fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon, or a gentle chervil. Should be paired with aromatic sweet onions or shallots. The mushroom’s flavor can hold up to a fatty-nutty note such was a pine nut or a toasted macadamia. Things to avers would be any red meat. The straight of this protein will quickly overwhelm a delicate chanterelles. They are delicious with white fish, lean poultry. My favorite is to Sauté them and devour them on buttery toast points.
For many years, Chanterelles remained notable for being served at the tables of nobility – this is a recipe I envision Kings and Queens noshing on!
6-8 slices of whole wheat nutty or sprouted grain bread
1 pounds fresh chanterelles
4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good dry white wine
1 small shallot, cleaned and slices thin
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh chopped chervil
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or to taste
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1-Slice Chanterelles lengthwise. In a large non-stick sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil, over moderately high heat.
2-Sauté shallots and mushrooms until barley tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until barely tender.
3-Add wine and continue to cook by stirring until liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms become almost tender. Sauté about 3 additional minutes.
4-Once wine is evaporated, add cream and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Reduce to a thick creamy consistency about 3 additional minutes.
5-While cream is reducing toast bread. Remove the crust and slice diagonal. Set aside.
6-When cream has reduced and thickened add lemon juice and fresh herbs. Stir to combine.
Serve warm on toast points drizzled with Truffle oil.
Yields approximately 6-8 servings
featured image from @jessica_martian
Chef Gigi is recognized nationally as an expert in culinary education. She specializes in families and adults to help increase nutritional awareness and help take some of the stress out of being a busy-aware adult. Chef has coached thousands of children and adults how to shop, prep, cook and eat better. She has developed signature techniques while teaching two decades of hands on classes, private events, public speaking, writing, professional culinary demonstrations, television and radio engagements.Gigi, also was the former Academic Director who wrote and implemented the famed French Culinary School- Le Cordon Bleu’s, Hospitality Management Program. Currently, Gigi works as a freelance food writer, learning and development coach– while continuing as an instructional designer. Chef co-authored, “Learning with Little Lulu Lemon” and has appeared in a variety of media outlets including, Radio Disney and Bay Area local television broadcast with Spencer Christian, on NBC’s “View from the Bay” and CBS, “Eye on the Bay”. Regularly contributed to a monthly column, ” The Family Kitchen” for Bay Area Parent Magazine; a subsidiary of Dominion Parenting Media is the nation’s largest publisher of regional parenting magazines.In 2015 Chef Gigi went on to study at the National Association of Sports Medicine to further understand the impact of movement and nutrition on our bodies.Chef Gigi keeps bees, chickens and grows her own food. Chef contributes monthly to Urban Gardeners Republic with amazing recipes for the garden. Be sure to follow her here.
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