Yellow Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

One of the first mushrooms of the fall is the delicious Yellow Chanterelle. A week or two after the first heavy fall rain small little yellow buttons will start appearing throughout the forest. Since this time of year coincides with hunting season in Oregon it is best for anyone out in the forest picking mushrooms to be wearing bright colors so they are not mistaken for a deer. This has always been one of my personal favorite mushrooms to look for, and is one of the easiest to find. But with every mushroom unless you are 100% certain of what you are picking DO NOT EAT IT! Now for a little about this treasure of the forest.

Since I love using Wikipedia for info here is a little bit of history and uses for this tasty treat:

“Though records of chanterelles being eaten date back to the 1500’s, they first gained widespread recognition as a culinary delicacy with the spreading influence of French cuisine in the 1700’s, where they began appearing in palace kitchens. For many years, they remained notable for being served at the tables of nobility. Nowadays, the usage of chanterelles in the kitchen is common throughout Europe and North America. In 1836, the Swedish mycologist Elias Fries considered the chanterelle “as one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”

Chanterelles as a group are generally described as being rich in flavor, with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to characterize. Some species have a fruity odor, others a more woody, earthy fragrance, and others still can even be considered spicy. The golden chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavorful chanterelle, and many chefs consider it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels. It therefore tends to command a high price in both restaurants and specialty store.”

Over the years I have dried, canned, pickled, and sautéed chanterelles in as many recipes as I can. Other mushrooms might be stronger flavored or different tasting, but this one is the easiest to find in large quantities. There are always several small stands of mushroom buyers around that will pay by the pound for these if you want to put in the time to find large amounts. The only thing about selling them that I never liked is that there is a subspecies of chanterelle that are white that the buyers will never take. I can’t tell any difference in taste between the two so that means more for me to enjoy. On a successful day I have found 20+ lbs of yellow chanterelles with only a few hours of searching.

When picking a patch of chanterelles it is best to cut them off at the base with a sharp knife. Pulling them out of the ground can damage the fungal matt that is under the ground. By cutting them you can get several crops out of the same location until the first hard frost hits under the forest canopy. Also alway remember to leave a few mushrooms in a patch so that they can continue to reproduce and produce even more in the years ahead.

For more detailed information please check out this link to the full Wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle

Some of my favorite recipes:

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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the weird world of Coral mushrooms

Every year when I walk through the woods I see these odd shapes that remind me of a coral reef.  Oregon is home to several different species of coral mushrooms and are well worth a minute to stop and look at them. So far on my journeys I have seen white, yellow, red, and purple corals growing in the coast range.  There are several edible species of coral, but I have never picked or eaten any. Supposedly they are great to eat and some species are sold in markets. But with most mushrooms there are also some poisonous species.  I don’t know anyone that has eaten them so I am most likely not going to try them.  They are very common anywhere in the coast range so if you step off the road into the trees you are likely to find them.  I snapped a couple pictures when I was looking for chanterelles.

yellow coral
A whitish-yellow coral. It was fairly large
A peach colored coral mushroom
A peach colored coral mushroom

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

 

We are an amazon affiliate so any support helps us make more video and articles. If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know

Lobster mushrooms

Strange looking mushroom but very tasty.
Strange looking mushroom but very tasty.

While wandering around the woods for chanterelles we came across several Lobster mushrooms.  Why is it called a lobster mushroom you ask?  It is because it is the color of a cooked lobster with the faint taste of seafood when you eat it.  A lobster mushroom is not truly a mushroom, but is a parasitic ascomycete that grows on mushrooms, turning them a reddish-orange color that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster. It colonizes members of the genera Lactarius (Milk-caps) and Russula, such as Russula brevipes and Lactarius piperatus in North America. At maturity,it completely covers its host mushroom, rendering it unidentifiable. Lobster mushrooms are widely eaten and enjoyed; they are commercially marketed and are commonly found in some large grocery stores ( I have never seen them sold anywhere around here though). They have a seafood-like flavor and a firm, dense texture. According to some, they may taste somewhat spicy if the host mushroom is an acrid Lactarius.  Even though the outer part is red the interior is a dense hard white color.  unfortunately the ones that I found were too old to eat and had already started to have bugs eat them.  But it is nice to find them so I can go back to the same location and look for them again.

Lobster mushrooms have a velvety texture when sautéed, not unlike cooked lobster, and their succulent meat hints pleasantly at seafood. Processing one can be a chore: Lobster mushrooms collect more than their share of dirt on a cap riddled with nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to scrub them hard, and then dice them up and saute with a little butter, cream and cognac to make a colorful duxelles.

Lobster mushroom just breaking the surface of the forest floor
Lobster mushroom just breaking the surface of the forest floor

Short stemmed Slippery Jack Mushroom

Small cluster of slippery jack's
Small cluster of slippery jack’s

Sometimes you don’t even have to walk into the woods to find interesting mushrooms.  I found these just outside the door at work growing under a small pine tree.  Like many species of the genus Suillus, S. brevipes is edible, and the mushroom is considered choice by some. The odor is mild, and the taste mild or slightly acidic. Field guides typically recommend to remove the slimy cap cuticle, and in older specimens, the tube layer before consumption. Fact of the day: this mushroom is common in the diet of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. I have never eaten these or know of anyone that has. Even if I know it is edible I am very cautious of eating a new mushroom.  Even if they are reported as edible there is always  chances for them to react badly with the digestion.  I passed on eating these and am sticking with eating my large amount of Chanterelle and King boletes that I have found so far this year.  But in the interest of adding more mushrooms to my list of potential food I thought I would write about these. Listed below are a some great books that are of use when trying to identify a new mushroom species.

Now some general info on this type of mushroom from wikipedia:

Habitat and distribution: Suillus brevipes grows singly, scattered, or in groups on the ground in late summer and autumn. A common, and sometimes abundant, mushroom, it occurs over most of North America (including Hawaii), south to Mexico, and north to Canada. This species has been found in Puerto Rico growing under planted Pinus caribaea, where it is thought to have been introduced inadvertently from North Carolina by the USDA Forest Service in 1955. Other introductions have also occurred in exotic pine plantations in Argentina, India, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan.

Suillus brevipes is a mycorrhizal fungus, and it develops a close symbiotic association with the roots of various tree species, especially pine. The underground mycelia form a sheath around the tree rootlets, and the fungal hyphae penetrate between the cortical cells of the root, forming ectomycorrhizae. In this way, the fungus can supply the tree with minerals, while the tree reciprocates by supplying carbohydrates created by photosynthesis. In nature, it associates with two- and three-needle pines, especially lodgepole and ponderosa pine. Under controlled laboratory conditions, the fungus has been shown to form ectomycorrhizae with ponderosa, lodgepole, loblolly, eastern white, patula, pond, radiata, and red pines. In vitro mycorrhizal associations formed with non-pine species include Pacific madrone, bearberry, western larch, Sitka spruce, and coast Douglas-fir. Fungal growth is inhibited by the presence of high levels of the heavy metals cadmium (350 ppm), lead (200 ppm), and nickel (20 ppm).
During the regrowth of pine trees after disturbance like clearcutting or wildfire, there appears an orderly sequence of mycorrhizal fungi as one species is replaced by another. A study on the ecological succession of ectomycorrhizal fungi in Canadian jack pine forests following wildfire concluded that S. brevipes is a multi-stage fungus. It appears relatively early during tree development; fruit bodies were common in 6-year old tree stands, and the fungus colonized the highest proportion of root tips. The fungus persists throughout the life of the tree, having been found in tree stands that were 41, 65, and 122 years old. There is, however, a relative reduction in the prevalence of the fungus with increasing stand age, which may be attributed to increased competition from other fungi, and a change in habitat brought about by closure of the forest canopy. Generally, S. brevipes responds favorably to silvicultural practices such as thinning and clearcutting. A 1996 study demonstrated that fruit bodies increased in abundance as the severity of disturbance increased. It has been suggested that the thick-walled, wiry rhizomorphs produced by the fungus may serve as an adaptation that helps it to survive and remain viable for a period of time following disturbance.

Not a very large type of bolete. The largest ones I saw were 4 inches at the most across on the cap
Not a very large type of bolete. The largest ones I saw were 4 inches at the most across on the cap

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King boletes with sausage and noodles

Delicious earthy mushroom sausage wonderfull noodle dish
Delicious earthy mushroom sausage wonderful noodle dish

 

So many mushrooms and so little time to indulge my second favorite culinary ingredient (Cheese is the first if you can’t tell) .  This weekends pickings included several different types of Wild mushrooms.  And for the first time I have found some king Boletes in the woods instead of in my normal urban picking area.  Since there is more than I can eat at once I am drying most of them for later.  Drying will bring out a stronger earthy taste but they are still very delicious when fresh.  I have a pack of my homemade sausage already thawed so I am going to try something new with the fresh boletes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves of garlic (or more)
  • 5 sausage links
  • 2 small king boletes (about 2-3 cups worth)
  • olive oil to saute
  • your favorite variety of noodle

Cook up the sausage and slice into 1/2 inch sections and return to the pan.  Next lightly brush off any needles or moss on your boletes and cut into 1/4 slices and saute with the garlic and oil.  add salt and pepper to taste.  Once the mushrooms are cooked down poor the mix over your noodles and eat.  the King boletes add a deep rich flavor to the dish.  I have made this with dehydrated ones and it still came out very delicious.

Sausage, mushrooms and garlic sautee
Sausage, mushrooms and garlic saute

Baked chanterelles served over rice or pasta

It is that time of year again where the mushrooms in Oregon go into overdrive and cover the forest floor with delicious mushrooms and deadly ones.  Usually when I find chanterelles my first thought is to season them with butter and herbs and saute them.  As good as they taste I plan on doing more light and healthy recipes this year with them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chanterelles chopped up
  • 1/2 onion coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lb cooked turkey (leftovers from last night)
  • 1/4 cup rich chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk (in place of heavy cream)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the chanterelles in a lightly oiled casserole dish or dutch oven. Cover with the chopped onion, turkey, and garlic. Cover the dish and bake in a preheated 350º oven for 20 minutes.

second batch of chanterelles of teh season
second batch of chanterelles of the season

Remove the cover, add the broth and milk or cream, and continue to bake without the cover for another 15 minutes. Do not allow it to boil after milk/cream is added. Adjust the flavor by adding salt and pepper. Serve over rice or pasta.

Baked chanterelles over chow mein noodles
Baked chanterelles over chow mein noodles

Elk meat stew with chicken of the wood mushrooms

While cleaning out the freezer I found the last remaining package of elk stew meat that we had.  Which sounds like a wonderful thing to throw in the slow cooker for dinner.  And then as I continued there was a package of chicken of the woods mushrooms right behind it.  I have never cooked the two together but it sounds like it would be tasty.  Hopefully this little experiment will be the most delicious thing I have made.  Other then my cheeses of course.  For those of you that don’t know what chicken of the woods is it is a polypore mushroom that grows on old stumps and logs.  Also called a sulfur shelf mushroom.

Chicken of the woods AKA sulfer shelf
Chicken of the woods AKA sulfur shelf

random stew ingredients:

  • 1 package of elk stew meat (around a pound)
  • 1/2 lb of chicken of the woods mushrooms
  • 4 small potatoes diced up
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons dried onions (out of fresh ones)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 4 cups of water

Cut everything up and add to your slow cooker.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until it is cooked to where you want it.  If you want a thicker stew add 2 tablespoons of flours and mix in or one package of brown gravy mix. This would be good with a strong cheese added but unfortunately I don’t have any ready at the moment

Umbrella false morel (Gyromitra californica)

one of the only mushrooms that we found out this spring
one of the few mushrooms that we found out this spring

I normally don’t write-up anything on mushrooms that you shouldn’t eat, but then I realized it would be good to have some of the others included just to help people identify some of the look a likes to the delicious edible ones.  That and I couldn’t find any of the edible morels today while I was wandering the woods.  This spring has been very dry so there is not a lot out in the woods.  This is the same problem that we had last fall unfortunately while looking for chanterelle. This mushroom is not edible!  

Other common names: California elven saddle (used to be Helvella californica)

Description/features:

  • Cap is domed, umbrella-like, or wavy and spreading, the edge of cap is not attached to the stalk
  • Caps are yellow-brown to dark brown (almost black) smooth and some what wrinkled .  But not honeycombed or pitted.
  • Stalks have prominent ribs that extend up the underside and underneath the cap.

Locations you can find them: in the woods (yes I know that is obvious)  mainly under conifers along old logging roads.  They can be found fall, winter, and spring in the pacific northwest.  I have only seen them in the spring so far.  Normally in the fall other species of helvella are coming up.

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

 

We are an amazon affiliate so any support helps us make more video and articles. If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know

Ham and Grits Quiche with wild mushrooms

One of todays many projects is making something for the family potluck later this afternoon.  Since my wife is making a dessert I have to make something not so sweet to balance it out.  (yes it is one of my odd quirks).  So today I am making one of my favorite dishes to take.  It combines two of my favorite foods together, ham and grits.  This is a very simple recipe and you can make it for any meal, and not just breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot cooked grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces ham cut into cubes
  • 1 9″ frozen deep dish pie crust
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup wild mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Combine the cooked grits and butter,  stir the mix until the butter is fully melted and the grits are smooth and creamy.  Add in the ham cubes and mix up.  Then pour the mix into the bottom of the pie shell and set aside. In a bowl beat together the eggs, whipping cream, pepper, and cheese.  You can add mushrooms to the egg mix if you are including them. The nice thing about this is that the eggs are organic brown eggs from my father and the cheese is one of the ones i made.  Now pour the egg mix over the grits and back until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Usually 30-40 minutes. Let cool for five minutes and serve.

ham, grits, and butter in the pie crust.
ham, grits, and butter in the pie crust.
Final product.  Lots of egg, cheese, and grits goodness
Final product. Lots of egg, cheese, and grits goodness

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Oyster

Oyster mushrooms are familiar to most people who like to try the different mushrooms available from the supermarket.  This is one of the easiest mushrooms to culture and is available in packages for a person to grow at home if you want to try a hand at mushroom farming. In Oregon this mushroom can easily be found growing out in the wilds.  My only problem is most of the time when I find a big patch of them is that they are growing on a dead tree.  Starting at about 10 feet up and growing up the tree.  I am not enough of a monkey to climb up and get them.  Luckily they are also found closer to the ground on tree’s that have fallen over. The picture is from Wikipedia since I could find any worth taking pictures of this year

The oyster mushroom is one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms. Its mycelia can kill and digest nematodes, which is believed to be a way in which the mushroom obtains nitrogen. The standard oyster mushroom can grow in many places, but some other related species, such as the branched oyster mushroom, grow only on trees. While this mushroom is often seen growing on dying hardwood trees, it only appears to be acting like a parasite. As the tree dies of other causes, P. ostreatus grows on the rapidly increasing mass of dead and dying wood. They actually benefit the forest by decomposing the dead wood, returning vital elements and minerals to the ecosystem in a form usable to other plants and organisms.

Oyster Mushrooms are great in almost every type of cooking.  I love cutting them into small pieces and putting them on a fresh homemade pizza.  Stir fry is another popular use for them.  Soups, stews, and fried, the uses are endless.  Experiment to your heart content with this mushroom.