In the forests I visit, I mostly find smallish chanterelles – one over two inches tall or with a cap over two inches wide is uncommon. Yet today I found a cluster of chanterelles, all in one hollow, that were much bigger than the norm.
I meant to post this shot on the weekend but didn’t get around to it…so here it is now.
I call these hypothetical chanterelles, because any old fool knows there aren’t any edible wild mushrooms in Southern Ontario. These are CGI mushrooms. Har!
I was asked today how I cooked the chanterelles I found on the weekend. Here is what I did. I fired up the bbq (I burn charcoal), and grilled a couple chicken breasts. Nothing fancy here. I used one of my standard bbq rubs – a spicy one – and simply grilled the chicken until it was almost done. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I started frying up my chanterelles – loads of them – in a wok with a little vegetable oil and some chopped up shallots and a wee pinch of salt. After a few minutes I added some zucchini halved and cut in roughly 1 inch pieces. I let this all cook until the mushrooms were almost done, then chopped up my bbq chicken into pieces the same size as the zucchini and tossed it in. I let it all cook together for a few minutes, added plenty of fresh ground pepper and there you have it. Spicy grilled chicken with chanterelles and courgettes.
I took the dogs out for a walk in the woods this morning, and was fortunate to find around 30 chanterelles. They’re a little hard to see right now. There is a lot of leaf litter on the forest floor and the chanterelles are just peaking out from under it. I had hoped to find some edible boletes too, but mostly just found boletes with red pores – not for consumption. I saw one bug-eaten lobster, a few yellow Amanitas and some red russulas and that’s about it. The chanterelles were the highlight.
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 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.