Newsletter August :
The word coming out of the end of July is ‘RAIN’. We have been blessed with some wonderful rains in the month of July and it made for an exciting mushroom foraging experience. In July I gathered the most Chanterelles I ever have, seeing familiar patches grow in size and finding new patches as well. Besides that Milky, Leatherback, mushrooms have been wildly abundant also. Unusually Honey mushrooms popped up very early, Hen of the wood showed up and Lobster mushrooms came early. This once again proves nothing in nature is certain and the times they are always changing! The forest ecosystem is a living, breathing entity and much like the human realm, it too changes appearances.
My guided mushroom and plant walks have been in full swing and we have been filling baskets with treasures of all kinds. The tail gate markets have been wonderful and I have been able to offer fresh, wild mushrooms to many local and visiting folks. Sharing knowledge and abundance are core beliefs for me and what I do. I’m excited to see what other surprises will emerge in the woods this month!
This months feature of the mushroom front is the fore mentioned Leatherback milky mushrooms. The taste of these Lactarius mushrooms, to me, is some of the best. They are very meaty and hearty and can go in any creative combination on the dinner plate. There are a few players in the milky family but easy ways to tell the good from the bad. It’s all in the milk! If the milk stings or burns your mouth, it’s bad, also poison milkys have a distinctive ring on the cap. If the milk has a fishy smell and taste than it’s a good one. You may find your fingers stained brown and sticky after picking some Leatherbacks. Also note the gills, the gills of the unfriendly variety tend to be dark and the gills of the Leathers are a light tan. The caps of the Leatherbacks live up to the name, run your fingers across the cap and it feels like leather. The caps can be dark, reddish brown or a light tanish color, both are considered as Leatherbacks. Another beauty in this tasty family is the Blue Indigo milk cap, a personal favorite to find for me. It’s blue and so is it’s milk, some say it tastes like blueberry. There is no shortage of Milkys out right now, so finding them is not a hard hunt. They also grow in pretty big patches, were there is one, there’s more! These mushrooms keep well in the fridge and can be dried for future enjoyment.
The Blue Indigo:
Be on the look out for these poisonous look alikes Pecks and Pepper Milk Caps:
The Milk caps go great in pasta dishes, can be sautéed like most other mushrooms and also you can grill the caps like a Portabella.
Here’s an Indigo recipe: https://www.tyrantfarms.com/a-delicious-indigo-milk-cap-recipe-lactarius-indigo/
The plant feature of the month is the sour tasting Autumn Olive Berry. These little treats make a nice trail snack. They have a sour like flavor, sometimes called sour patch kids. They are high in anti-oxidants also. Here’s a jam recipe- https://ouroneacrefarm.com/2014/09/13/autumn-olive-jam/
Other than these you can also find these mushrooms and plants right now on the trail:
The lobster mushroom, Black Trumpets and Cauliflower :
Wild Indian Cucumber root- Another wonderful snack while out foraging!!
Bolete mushrooms are everywhere as well, these have no gills, instead a spongy bottom and often change colors when bruised. This is a mostly safe family of mushrooms. There many varieties that include lots of different colors, shapes and sizes. The Old Man is one of a few good edibles, along with Painted, Chestnut, King, Slippery Jack (chicken fat), Butter foot and the Shaggy Stalk, most of the rest have a bitter taste. Although a generally safe family of mushrooms, caution can be required. Two general rules of Boletes are, if they have a red bottom or if they bruise blue then stay away!
There’s so much to talk about, I can’t fit it all in one newsletter, but if your interested in learning more sign up for a walk while the getting is good! I will be leading walks through out the fall with many more varieties of mushrooms yet to come!
******Remember that looking at pictures is fine but not the best way to try to identify on your own, going with a trained, knowledgeable guide is the best way to ensure you don’t make a critical mistake. All mushrooms are edible, some are edible only once!******
As always looking forward to seeing new faces and happy hunting!!