After all the rain, I expected to collect buckets of tasty edible wild mushrooms today. Arriving at my first spot, I discovered to my dismay that the local bureaucrats had declared the only reasonable access to the forest to be NO PARKING. On the other side of the forest, a housing development has sprouted up and the only way in from that side appears to be through some guy’s backyard. Damn.
Off to spot number 2. Spot number 2 is an “on the way” spot. I almost always find some good edible mushrooms in this forest, but I rarely find a lot of them. Today I quickly collected over a dozen fresh, clean beautiful Hypomyces lactifluorum (lobster mushrooms) then walked deeper into the woods to a place that often offers up a few chanterelles. Nature hasn’t coughed up many chanterelles this season, or last season either for that matter. Here it is the middle of August already and I hadn’t collected a single chanterelle. Today, finally I found one…..but just one. Usually when you find a chanterelle, there are others close by but not this time. This spot is also my most reliable spot for hedgehogs, but I didn’t find even one of those.
At spot 3 I was disappointed to discover that some other mushroom hound had been in picking before me, perhaps yesterday. I know this because I found some boletes sitting on a stump, picked then rejected. I would have rejected them too. They were quite bug-eaten and for sure past their expiry date. This spot is often very generous, but today, nada. I tried two other spots that are normally really good for lobsters and again, nada. The conditions were good. The forest were nicely wet, but no mushrooms. It’s a good thing I stopped by the “on the way” spot. Thanks to that, I have enough mushrooms for several meals.
July of this year, much like July of last year, has been a poor month for mushroom hounds in these parts. Why? It’s been way too dry. Buoyed by a little bit of rain that fell on the Enchanted Mushroom Forest a few days ago, I invited the dogs to join me for a walk in the woods. They informed me that it’s been too dry for mushrooms but they’d love to wander around the forest anyway. So off we went, stopping at a reliable spot for chanterelles. The forest was very dry, with no sign that that it had rained at all. There is one little area, beside a path, but not the usual path, that I think of as my barometer. If there are chanterelles around, I’ll find several in this one little area. Today I found 7 or 8 dried up, bug-eaten posts that once belonged to chanterelles. We had a closer look in a few other good spots at this stop only to find the same thing elsewhere, a few old posts, along with a couple remnants of old lobster mushrooms, also way past their expiry date. Ellie Mae gave me a look that could only mean, I told you so, stupid human.
Some time back, my brother the trout showed me a peculiar property down the road from the Enchanted Mushroom Forest, at the edge of a hemlock bog, in a place where the ground undulates deeply as if some restless God had scooped out bits of the landscape with a celestial ice cream scoop, just for kicks. We know this spot lovingly as The Malerial Bog. It stays wet way longer than anyplace else around and at times it can host many, many edible mushrooms. It also hosts a mind-boggling number of mosquitoes. I figured if I were to find mushrooms anywhere, it would be here. It was so dry there, the puddles on the old road, which rarely ever fully dry out, were fully dried out. It was so dry there were no mosquitoes around. There were lobster mushrooms there, but they were old and bug-eaten and crumbly. I lifted up one that from above looked good. This mushroom was hosting a family of large black beetles of some sort, who were not at all pleased that I removed their canopy. I carefully put it back.
Well, we enjoyed a nice morning walk in the woods at least. I think we need more than a thunderstorm to get the mushrooms fruiting. I think we need a nice sustained two-day rain.
The Weather Network has predicted normal summer temperatures this year, but in the Toronto area, higher than normal precipitation. This is good news for the amateur mycologists in the crowd. Last season started off well enough with plenty of morels and plenty of oysters but then a very dry July made it a poor year for chanterelles. Things picked up some later in August and into September. I found my share of hedgehogs, some good puffballs and some milk caps and as usual, plenty of lobster mushrooms.
I missed those chanterelles last year though. I’d love to see a warm wet July this year to get the chanterelles and the summer boletes off to a good start. Just sayin’.
Somebody entered the phrase “chanterelle mushrooms in July near Toronto” into a search engine and landed on 27th Street. Let me ease your troubled mind, my friend. The answer is, well maybe, if we get some rain this year (and you can find them).
I took Friday off work and headed up to the secret enchanted mushroom forests to do some foraging. I didn’t have high expectations because the rain we received mid-week wasn’t nearly enough to encourage a good flush of tasty edibles. However, wandering around a forest always makes for a good day, with or without lots of mushrooms to pick.
I went to my most reliable chanterelle spot first and found nothing at all. It was a mushroom-free zone of the worst order. I wandered down the trail thinking I should give the whole area at least a quick look before abandoning ship. I almost stepped on the chanterelles in the picture below, as they were on the edge of the trail I was walking.
Look how well hidden they are in the leaves on the floor of the forest. Encouraged by this find, I examined this chunk of forest carefully. I found just 8 chanterelles in total. I also found two bug-eaten examples of hypomyces lactifluorum. Aha, I thought. The lobsters have started. I high-tailed it over to a nearby forest that always has loads of lobsters, but nada. So I drove to another productive lobster spot, a boggy hemlock forest. Again nada. At this spot, I was reminded that there are many inconsiderate idiots roaming this planet. See the photo below:
Who did they think was going to clean up after them?
Off I went to yet another forest. This is one I’ve only recently learned about. However, today there were no mushrooms around. It was a beautiful forest to walk through though.
Later on Friday, our pals Candy and Stagg came over, and also Behzad, another friend we’ve known for many years. We enjoyed some bbq and a couple excellent games of scrabble. It was great to see Candy and Stagg, who have been on an incredible roadtrip and recently arrived in Toronto.
I laid today’s bounty out on a table on the deck. There are some different species of boletes, two types of chanterelles, hedgehogs, and lobsters.
I gave away quite a few, I have a lot in the dehydrator, and I made some soup tonight. The soup uses three types of boletes, hedgehogs, and chanterelles, along with bbq corn, red peppers, carrots and bbq turkey sausage. I roasted up some potatoes to serve on the side, and cracked a Polish beer.
I found lots of these boletes with the red pores. I don’ t know a great deal about boletes, but I do know the rule that says, “don’t eat the ones with the red pores.”
Aren’t these chanterelles beautiful? There are some days when it seems chanterelles don’t get to this size because the bugs and the slugs demolish them first. Today, many of the chanterelles I found were good size like this and in great condition.
I’ve seen these before. They grow on dead conifer wood. I’m pretty sure this mushroom is the Velvet-footed Pax, or Paxillus atrotomentosus. It’s poisonous, so don’t be eating these.
Start off by packing some cold drinks and heading off to a forest. If you have a couple huge slobbering canines, they’ll want to come along. Find and pick a selection of tasty edible mushrooms. Avoid the deadly poisonous or the sickening kind. Drive home and have a nap. Give some of your haul to friends and neighbours so they can enjoy them too.
This morning’s rain was a welcome relief, breaking a few days of intense heat. The rain felt good. The dogs seemed to respond too with more energy and appetite too. This evening Ellie Mae barked with joy as Tuffy P served up her dinner.
I noticed some LBMs (little boring mushrooms) popped up this afternoon after the rain. I’m hoping that the rain will trigger some more chanterelles and maybe some lobster mushrooms and boletes too. Sunday morning I’ll be taking the dogs with me to check out a couple forests. My brother tells me lobsters should have started by now. Last year it was August before I found any, but then part of the problem may have been simply not seeing them. Once I got it through my thick skull that they are often buried almost completely in the leaf litter with only a bit of red-orange poking out, I started finding them regularly.
I hadn’t planned on visiting a forest today, since we haven’t had rain in a while and I thought there wouldn’t be many mushrooms around. However, the dogs seemed to have the idea that on weekends I’m supposed to take them for a walk in the woods. They were all excited this morning, so I decided to take them to the woods for an hour walk before the day heated up.
We didn’t go to the usual spots, instead opting for a nice forest about 3/4 of the way up. (Salvelinas, for your benefit, it’s the forest where we find the hedgehogs). It was quite dry in the forest, so imagine my surprise when I quickly found a fistful of chanterelles. We walked around for an hour or so, but that one patch was all that we could come up with. Still, considering I expected nothing more than a little exercise in the company of my dogs, I’m pleasantly surprised.