Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The 2014 Season

The 2014 wild mushroom season is about to start. Will try to keep up with forays and harvests as they happen. Hope it's a bountiful year.  Here's a little something appearing in the front yard right now... Looks like a Coprinus sp.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Odds & Ends From the Yard

Until I can fix my vehicle (needs a new ignition system, plugs, wires, distributor cap, etc.) I'm pretty much limited to foraging in the yard for mushrooms.  Here's a couple of recent finds:

This is a young specimen of Xylaria polymorpha, or Dead Man's Fingers. Eventually, the digits will become coal black and rough, appearing as if the hand of a corpse is emerging from a shallow grave.  Non edible.

Pretty sure this is one of the saprophytic Waxy Caps, maybe Hygrocybe persistens. Nothing really to distinguish it other than a yellowish color that might catch your eye against a dark forest floor.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1st Post of 2013 - Purple Russula

Started finding this purple Russula in the woods/yard.  Seems to be associated with oak. Taste is a mildly acidic, and pleasant.  No aroma. Gills and stalk of fresh specimens are white. Flesh is brittle as is typical for Russula.

Thought I'd try smoking them...  Salted with sea salt in a ziplock baggie.  Mushrooms got very soft and exuded a lot of pink liquid.  I carefully patted them dry and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

Here is how the mushroom appears after smoking.  I used green twigs stripped of bark from a wild cherry tree in the yard.  Smoke flavor, although very good, overwhelmed the delicate tartness I could taste in the raw mushrooms.

Slivered, the smoked mushrooms were added to what has become my lunchtime staple, ramen noodles with homemade kimchi and chutney, from the Virginia Chutney Co.  The blend of ramen, kimchi and chutney brought the smokiness of the mushrooms into a rich, savory balance with a delicious, complex, exotic character that's hard to imagine.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meripilus giganteus

The Black-Staining Polypore is found growing in large clusters, usually at the base of oak trees. It can reach substantial size, but is best eaten while still young and relatively small. Aged specimens become too tough to make for pleasant eating. Young specimens are tender and tasty. These will be marinated and smoked:
Meripilus giganteus

Meripilus giganteus in marinade

Here is the finished product still in the smoker. Flavor and texture are like a very moist beef jerky, but more easily chewed. Hickory aroma and flavor is very forward. Lemon juice in the marinade adds a fresh tanginess. There is no noticeable sweetness from the small amount of brown sugar used in the marinade.
Meripilus giganteus, smoked Black-Staining Polypore

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hickory Smoked Morels

Been trying out a stovetop smoker on mushrooms. Used store-bought crimini as a trial and was very pleased with the result. Being spring, morels presented themselves as the next opportunity. I used fresh, dried, shaved hickory wood from the yard for smoke. The morels attained a surprising and beautiful golden color, and a slightly crispy texture. Taste was very meaty, like bacon. Pictured is a vegetarian breakfast, with olive oil drizzled on toasted Portuguese bread.

Hickory Smoked Morels

Here's a picture of the first smoking experiment using store-bought crimini mushrooms, and wild grapevine for smoke.  The crimini took on an exotic darkness and substantial chewiness.

Wild grapevine-smoked Crimini

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Agaricus bitorquis

First good find of the 2011 season was a new one for me. My wife said there were white mushrooms in the mint patch in the backyard. Couldn't imagine what they could be, so I checked immediately. Turns out they were Agaricus bitorquis, which are usually found early before other Agaricus make an appearance. We fried them in butter, applied a light dash of salt and ate them on toast. Delicious.
Agaricus bitorquis, Sidewalk Mushroom

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Late Winter Finds - Daedalea quercina

This thick-bodied polypore is common on oak stumps. The pore surface develops into a labyrinthine, maze-like structure which can look very strange. No value as an edible, but it contains compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect. If you are familiar with the work of artist, Rodger Dean, you can't help but think this mushroom may have provided inspiration.

Daedalea quercina, Thick-maze Oak Polypore

 Artwork by Rodger Dean showing possible inspiration from Daedalea fungus.
Detail from Rodger Deans' "Arrival," included in the album "Yessongs," by Yes