Tuesday, August 29, 2006

If They're Good Enough for Hobbits....

The oak logs at the end of my driveway, which at one time I considered removing, have over the summer produced several crops of Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). Several days after a good rain these well named fungi appear in abundance. Yesterday I harvested over a pound from my "mushroom farm". Since they are full of moisture when cooked the liquid evaporates and they take on the flavor of the particular dish. Cooked alone they have a mild taste reminiscent of a oyster. These are very similar to Angel Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens) which grow on conifer wood while the former prefers deciduous logs. Both are quite edible.Posted by Picasa

One of the most prolific mushrooms this year has been the Voluminous Milky (Lactaruus volemus). This is one of the best varieties I have found and in spite of it's fishy odor and latex that stains the fingers brown it is quite tasty. We made a meal of them one evening. They freeze quite well and I have laid up a supply for the coming months. I have found them singularly and in bunches mostly along the bank next to the road. The largest was a respectable six inches across. Well named for the prodigious amount of white latex they produce this mushroom is easily identifiable.

Identification of mushrooms can be kind of tricky and a mistake can, at best, cause illness and at worst death. Fortunately most of the deadly ones are easily identified and if there is any question it is prudent to leave them uneaten. One of the most spectacular and also poisonous I've found growing in the yard is the Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalolus dearius). These grow in a large clump and in the extreme dark have an eerie green glow. As they say, there are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. I'm sure I have left many a tasty "shroom" in the field because I could not positivly tell what it was. Gill arrangement, color (which can vary within the same species), where found, odor, stem shape and composition as well as the color of the spores produced all figure into the identification.

Last year I found the Corrugated Milky (Lactarius corrigus) all over the place. this year not so many. It's a cousin to the Milky shown above and good but not as good with more of a rough texture. These are not so easy to find because their somewhat purple brown color blends well with the ground cover of brown leaves and such.

This time of year the Boletes seem to be thriving. I is thought that none are poisonous but some of them sure don't taste good. One of the prized is the King Bolite (Boletus edulis) known by various names in various countries. These don't grow much around here but the thing is that minor variations in this species are found everywhere. The other thing about Bolites is that numerous critters find them as desirable as we. Gnats lay eggs in them which in turn become maggots. Squirrels and other forrest creatures nibble at their meaty tops and as a result its difficult to find one unpolluted. But they do get big. One recently in the yard measured a full ten inches across.

Our neighbors yard is full of Cinnabar-red Chanterelles. these are edible but I don't have the patience right now to harvest enough of the very small fungi to make a meal. Besides I'd have to explain to the nice lady next door why I'm crawling around her yard. Maybe when she goes back to her N. Carolina home in a few days....


Blogger Sean said...

Hey if you find any Psilocybes growing over there you can make some Timothy Leary Brownies. Mail me a box should you make them, I might want to relive my youth someday :)


3:39 AM  
Blogger threecollie said...

Thanks for the mushrooming lesson. I am impressed (but still chicken) although we eat puffballs sometimes.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Hm, I'm no fungi lover, despite that it's actually food and I'm the hungry monster. *lol*

I remember when I had an old lady as a friend and I used to eat together with her sometimes. She once made a fungi sauce... and I didn't trust her up to 100% that she could pick the right fungis... (She was really old and sometimes very confused).

Oh, that was a meal that was taking time for me to eat... I didn't get sick though :-)

6:44 AM  
Blogger Kasia said...

I don't like the taste of mushrooms, but the smell is amazing!!! You can close your eyes, take a deep breath and see the wood, moss, feel the moist air..Yes, the smell is absolutely incredible.

4:58 AM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Sure, Sean, All of my neighbors seem to have the same request. I've never met so many ex-hippies since a Saturday night in Floyd.

I just take it slow when learning the species, TC. It is recomended one cook and eat a SMALL piece from an identified edible and see if there are any ill efects after 48 hours.

Oh my, Mrs L, what am I to think. First it's sushi and now mushrooms. I really think you don't like them because they are small.

Kasia, the taste to me does the same thing. However different species have different taste. Around here I open my eyes to see the woods.

7:34 AM  

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