Somebody landed on this blog after searching, “where do lobster mushrooms grow in Ontario?” The answer is, in the Enchanted Mushroom Forest, that’s where. Curiously, I find more lobster mushrooms in the forests I forage than any other single species, and yet I some people never find any. The first season I foraged, I don’t think I found any, but once I started seeing them, I started finding loads of them.
Today, M kindly dropped off a bag containing a generous quantity of Chicken of the Woods. Wow, was that ever nice! She harvested a beautiful and huge chicken and I was thrilled to receive some pieces. Chicken of the Woods is a very tasty mushroom that grows on tree stumps. When you find one you are very fortunate indeed, because often they contain many shelves and you can harvest several pounds of mushroom from one stump. The younger they are the more tender they are. When you have one, the usual approach is to cut away any tough woody areas and just cook and eat the tender parts.
I made up a big bowl of pasta, featuring a sauce made with great quantities of “chicken” and some hot fennel sausage. It was really delicious, and even better, I have lots left for tomorrow!
I decided to take a quick look this morning at the Enchanted Mushroom Forest to see if anything had started happening after the rain. The short answer is that there were a few tasty edibles around and the forest was good and wet. I found enough hedgehog mushrooms and lobster mushrooms for a couple dinners.
The hedgehogs are unusual in that they have teeth instead of gills or pores under the cap. They’re firm and tasty. Keep in mind though, that I don’t recommend eating any wild mushrooms….if you go and poison yourself because you mis-identify something, remember I warned you.
Somebody landed on this blog after searching the question, “are blue-staining boletes edible”? I thought I should weigh in on this before the searcher goes collecting.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, boletes are those mushrooms that have pores rather than gills or teeth on the underside of the cap. Some boletes stain blue when they are bruised or cut. By that I mean they turn a deep shade of blue or sometimes greeny-blue where the injury occurred. If you slice one on the underside of the cap, for instance, the incision will turn blue, or with some, when you rub the flat of a knife against the cap, it turns blue.
The short answer to the searcher’s question is that some blue-staining boletes are edible but others are poisonous. Only eat a blue-staining bolete if you can identify what you’re eating and you’re sure you’re not going to poison yourself. It’s possible to pick boletes for the table without being able to identify the specific mushroom, by following a set of rules. (this is for educational purposes only – I’m not recommending you go and eat any wild mushroom) If you follow these rules, you won’t be eating any of the blue-stainers, as the rules eliminate all of them because some of them are poisonous.
Here are the rules:
1. Eat only fresh young specimens
2. Avoid boletes with red or orange pore surfaces
3. Avoid boletes that stain or bruise blue or green
4. Avoid orange-capped Leccinum species (if you are asking what the hell is a Leccinum, avoid any organge-capped boletes).
I think there is another rule that is not on the page I quoted. That is, If you’ve followed the first four rules and you think you have an edible bolete, cut off a wee piece and taste it. If you want to immediately spit if out because it tastes very bitter, then don’t eat it.
Ok, one more rule….if you’ve picked it in the wild, cook it before you eat it. It is dangerous to do otherwise.
All this assumes you can tell what you are looking at is a bolete. This also assumes you aren’t about to eat mushooms that come up in a toxic waste heap or other nasty environment.
My disclaimer: I am not recommending you eat any wild mushroom. I am not recommending you eat any boletes. If you must eat wild mushrooms, be very careful or you just might end up very sick or dead. Remember when you’re experiencing severe gastro-intestinal upset, I never told you to eat that mushroom. Just because I might be crazy enough to eat wild mushrooms, doesn’t mean you have to be too. Better safe than sorry. Finally, as the old saying goes, there are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.
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).
Somebody entered “Aborted Entoloma Spring” into a search engine and came up with my little slice of paradise. Around these parts, though, you won’t see aborted entoloma, or Entoloma abortivum, in the spring. You’ll see lots of them in the fall, though.
The naming of this mushroom is confusing, because once these strange blog-like fungi were thought to be the result of Armillaria, or honey mushrooms, attacking Entoloma. Now it’s thought that in fact these are Armillaria that have been attacked by Entoloma. In other words, they are honey mushrooms that have a parasite, the Entoloma, that has caused the host to become disfigured and somewhat strange.The confusion is understandable because honey mushrooms are really nasty. In fact they are tree killers. They send a lacy growth known as shoe-string root-rot, up the tree, under the bark. They kill the tree and then live on the nutrients in the tree until the nutrients are all gone.
Aborted entoloma are always found in companionship with honey mushrooms. Sometimes you see honey mushrooms on a tree limb or stump and the aborted entoloma around the base.
Here’s what Mushroom-collecting.com says about their edibility:
These have a spotty reputation as an edible that I feel is undeserved. That said, they must be collected and cooked correctly. Look for fruits that are quite white, have few or no cracks in the top, and feel relatively dense (not spongy). Being a bit pithy on the inside is actually normal. Brown spots are a bad sign and waterlogged specimens are hard to cook. They are occasionally wormy so check closely for small white maggots. Once you get the idea of what the inside looks like you will not worry about these but you do not want to mistake them for early stage amanitas which can be deadly. Amanitas will have lines indicating a developing fruit and are much denser inside and smoother on the outside. Be very careful. Don’t take a chance!
I’ve collected these for the table and found them to be tasty. On the web, there are mixed reports about how good they are. They hold a lot of water and they will reduce by half when you cook them. The best way to cook these is pan-fried on their own, rather than mixed into something else like a stir-fry. This said, I don’t usually collect these because they’re really weird. They taste fine; they just look really strange and I’m not quite over that.
I took the dogs for a long walk in a forest not so far from home, and came back with the bounty you see in the picture above. These are (not so) giant puffballs and Lactarius deliciosus, aka Saffron Milk Caps. There is also a small cauliflower mushroom I found along a trail.
The milk cap in the photo above is on the large side. I saw one or two larger, but most of the ones around are perhaps half to two thirds the size of this mushroom. I’ve seen mixed reports about the edibility of these mushrooms. Some people say they are grainy unless cooked slowly for a long time. I’ve also read they are sour. My experience is that they are quite tasty, and fry up nicely with a little vegetable oil and a pinch of my bbq spice rub. They are not quite as good as their cousin, L. thyinos (which doesn’t stain green), but still very good. I haven’t tried drying milk caps before, so I put a bowl of them in the dehydrator to find out how well they dry.