Friday, September 25, 2015
Before you get all excited that I have this wonderful bout of information to teach you about mushrooms, let me just start off by telling you that I just took a Mushrooms 101 class with my son at Rice Lake State Park. I thought that I would share what I have learned, basically so I don't forget about it. I am pretty stoked to learn more about mushrooming and identification and even more specifically foraging.
Let's first start off by telling you that our guide suggested that in the beginning when we are foraging, we stick to the Safe 6 Mushrooms in Minnesota. The above picture is Hen of the Woods, which is on the list of Safe 6 and some of this was sauteed up below in the picture of the spaghetti. It was delicious. It has a nutty flavor to it. He said that Hen of the Wood like to grow at the base of a tree and particularly like Burr Oak, but also grow on other oaks and trees.
This is a picture of the bottom side of an oyster mushroom (also on the Safe 6), but it is old and has gotten moldy, so we would not be harvesting it for consumption.
Just another picture of the oyster mushrooms. Sorry the picture quality isn't the best as I just had my phone with to use. Another mushroom on the Safe 6 that I have hunted for on a few occasions (but really it's only available for a couple weeks in Minnesota) is the Morel Mushroom (I had always heard that morels grew on dead elms, but our guide claims to find them on dead locust trees and to start hunting for them at the south end of a hill.) The other 3 Safe 6 mushrooms include Shaggy Manes (we did find some of these but I didn't get a picture and they were small ones which they said not to eat because with they are little they can be confused with something poisonous), Chicken of the Woods, and Puffballs. On our excursion we did not find the edible white puffball (which my kids have found before but we didn't know it was edible), but we did find the poisonous Pigskin Puffball.
Now, is the section of mushrooms that are not edible, which is actually the majority of mushroom you will find. This is a coral mushroom.
Here is my son showing off what our guide liked to call "Little Brown Jobs". LOL! My son really enjoyed going out looking for mushrooms.I actually think between the two of us, we found the majority of the mushrooms our guide wanted out group of 17 to find so he could show us the edibles and teach us about the different structures of mushrooms. I have some lingo to learn!
To be honest, I don't remember what he called these red ones but they were all over the place. We didn't forage any of them so I presume they were poisonous and they ar not on my Safe 6 list so we'll leave it alone.
Another thing he had told us is that honey mushrooms have a look-a-like poisonous mushroom, but if you take the stem and try to peel it, the edible honey mushroom will peel like string cheese and the poisonous one doe snot.
We did attempt to do spore prints, which he said is a really good way to help identify mushrooms and said to never eat anything with white spores. He showed us how to make spore prints with white & colored paper and covering the mushroom with a glass.
He also told us we need to be looking for edible mushroom when they are young and usually 3-5 days after a big rain is a really good time to go looking for them and the mushrooms will have bloomed.
Our class split up the Hen of the Woods, so we didn't have a lot to saute up, but my son and I did enjoy some spaghetti with sauteed Hen of the Woods with zucchini (from our garden), garlic, onions and tomatoes.
He highly recommended we get the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms. I came home and promptly ordered this one from Amazon. He mentioned a couple other books worth picking up and I have requested those from the library to see what they are like before purchasing, since he only had these for us to look at during our class.
This was a pretty informative class and it was FREE! You should really check to see if State Parks near you offer events and class. Often they are free or very affordable