It’s been very dry this Spring but we recently had some nice rains with sunshine expected the rest of the week. The rain and the sunshine should produce the rare delicacy of wild mushrooms. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll take the 4 wheeler out in the woods and began the annual ritual of mushroom hunting. Actually this will be the first anniversary of a successful mushroom hunt. We have lived here since 1995 but coming from the city, we were a little hesitant to eat something we could not properly identify. If you don’t know what you are eating, it can make you very sick. Also, neighbors do not reveal their hunting spots.
Two years ago, our daughter-in-law who was raised in this area, discovered Chanterrele mushrooms on a hillside near a creek. We were a little leary, but she had ate many times before. She sauteed in butter and they were quite delicious.
The Chanterelle has a toxic look-a-like called the Jack-o-lantern mushroom. It is a bright orange mushroom that has yellow orange meat inside. The Chanterelle has a white colored meat. Underneath the Jack-o-lantern are gills that look like fans of pages of paper stacked together. The Chanterelle has ridges as you can see in the picture above. This mushroom comes out in summer. It was my favorite. They are also high in vitamin D.
Most mushroom hunters look for the prized Morel, which is what should be popping up any day now. Last year my husband found the mother lode underneath a tree close to his deer stand. They love stands of Oak trees with lots of leaf cover on the ground. The picture below shows some of our first finds. Unfortunately, later I discovered that you should not pull them up by the root. They should be cut off at the base, leaving the root and put in a mesh bag to help spread the spores around so they will pop up next year. As you see these are coned shaped covered in ridges. Not to be confused with the false morel. False morels can have a large dark colored head that looks like a brain and is solid inside while the Morel is hollow.
If you go mushroom hunting take someone with you who can help you identify the correct mushroom! After we picked our first batch, we had a neighbor inspect for us. Now we know what to look for.
The next mushroom was found by a friend of my husband. It is called Chicken in the Woods. It can be battered and fried and the meat has a taste very similar to chicken breast. This one weighed 5 pounds! They are found at the base of dead trees.
Do you go schroom hunting? If so, what are some of your favorites?