Dare I say fall is at the door step. What a summer in the mushroom world, so many amazingly huge flushes made for good foraging fun in the forest. Having observed and foraged for many years now, it’s interesting to witness how unpredictable the seasons can be from year to year. Some mushrooms growing at times they didn’t the year before, some are more abundant than previous years and some are less abundant. Just mother nature keeping us guessing. Fall brings us some wonderful stuff and marks the last few months of gathering before the long winter.
As September begins I’m off on a westward adventure for a few weeks. I will be traveling to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, antelope canyon and all places in-between with my partner. This means a break from walks and markets. I will try and squeeze in a few more walks when I return on the 23rd and resume markets that week as well. I will however be at the East Asheville tail gate market this Friday the 6th from 3-6 and this Saturday, the 7th at the Black Mountain market from 9-12. So if you have any tincture or tea needs before I go this would be the chance to grab them, so come see me.
The highlights of this month are two great mushrooms, Honeys and Hens. The Honey mushrooms can bring some confusion and uncertainty. Interesting fact about Honey mushrooms, they are the largest living organism, covering 2,385 acres, that’s just one long network of mycelium that was recorded in Oregon. It also may be the oldest living organism estimated to be between 2,400-8,650 years old!! Honeys have a few distinct characteristics. They grow in clusters, sometimes at the base of trees, sometimes just by themselves on the ground. Honeys usually have rings, vales on the top of the stems, they have little black speckles on the cap, light, tan colored gills and stringy stems. The spore print of Honeys is white and you can often observe this within the clusters, one growing on top of another often leaves that white, powdery print on the caps of the ones below it. There are two types, ringed and ringless. Ringless have smoother caps without speckles and no vale or ring, hence the name. The look alike to Honeys is called the Deadly Galerina, which have more helmet like caps, are darker brown and dark brown gills, however the stems look very similar.
Sautéing Honey mushrooms in butter and oil with some fresh herbs is always great. The stringy stems are super good! A slight caution is that Honeys have been known to cause some gastrointestinal issues and best eaten in small portions.
Below is the Deadly Galerina:
Hen of the Wood, also known as Maitake, is the other feature of the month. These mushrooms are some of my favorites! I love the taste of Hens and finding them can be challenging and I love that, they blend in really well with the forest floor. To start the season of the Hens, they grow in high elevations before making their way down to the lower elevations. They typically grow at the base of Oak trees. Hens are medicinal, having immune boosting qualities, contain high levels of vitamin D, may help fight cancers, contain anti-oxidants, and protect against diabetes. That’s good, healthy eating. They are a real gem in the mushroom world!
Sometimes they get mistaken for the Black Staining polypore. Which is also edible but not nearly as good.
Here’s a tasty recipe for Hens and Honeys by the Forager Chef:
The plant of the month is the Kousa Dogwood and it’s tasty fruit. The flower of the Dogwood tree is our official state flower. The fruits are red and plump and can be a highly enjoyable treat. The secret here is to pick the fruit when it’s bright red and ripe, otherwise it could have a real bitter taste.
Here’s one idea of what do with the fruits: http://www.lessnoise-moregreen.com/2013/09/foraging-for-kousa-dogwood-berries-and.html
I’m looking forward to getting out of town for alittle and coming back refreshed and ready to pick up where I’m leaving off. I’ll be sharing my adventures when I return for sure. Enjoy the change in the seasons, the cooler nights and the upcoming colors of fall! Hope everyone gets out there and enjoys the tastes of September. As always happy hunting…..