The World of Mushrooms
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Have you ever eaten a mushroom that was just foraged from the forest? I hadn’t either until several years ago. Back then some friends started taking me foraging and I learned a lot. Now I share the joy with others and my friends send me their pictures! Have you noticed your friends posting pictures of mushrooms, as they have been abundant this summer/fall in New England.
In the last few years, I have learned more about these intriguing forest dwellers. Initially, my friends and I found small puffballs in New Hampshire and chaga on the birch trees (that we couldn’t reach though). One year we found pounds of hen-of-woods right outside of Boston and giant puffballs in Wayland. My local foraging journey morphed into hiring a forager one summer near Acadia National Park. At that time, a group of us spent the morning identifying various mushrooms and filling baskets upon baskets with black trumpets and chanterelles. YUM!! One October, while driving with my son near Rochester NY, he screamed, “mom, look there’s a giant puffball.” Of course, I had to stop the car and investigate. There is nothing like the excitement of someone else screaming about mushrooms!
This summer I learned to identify bicolors and milkies but foraged many hen-of-the woods and chicken of the woods. I even found a mushroom called the old man of the woods on my own property along with black trumpets. They are everywhere and it’s such a rush of joy and adventure when you find one that you know is edible and then you have dinner!
Be careful when foraging. Start with someone who can help you identify properly and buy a guidebook as well. Online sources can help and there are Facebook groups that help with identification. If you’re not sure, then leave the mushroom behind and continue to learn more. Mushrooms are also used in teas, tinctures, coffees, oils in addition to medicinal uses.
Check out this article on turkey tails.
Mushrooms are easy to cook with oil, shallots and garlic. Of course, you can add white wine and other ingredients but keep it simple so you can relish in the earthy texture and taste of the mushrooms. If you’re looking for ideas contact me.
Alas - Did you know that without mushrooms, we would not have life? They are not just essential decomposers of our forest but also regenerators. They are the connectors of our earth. So mushrooms are not just in our food chain but essential to the life cycle of our planet. Incredible news!! I learned a lot about mushrooms from a documentary called Fantastic Fungi. It features Paul Stamets, a mycologist, who brings us into the underworld with these magical and medicinal superpowers. It’s worth a watch.
Foraging for mushrooms has led me to learn more about other edible plants and have participated in local plant walks. Foraging has also brought me closer to paying attention to what grows locally and how I can harvest food in my own backyard (as long as we’re not using pesticides). My time hiking or walking around the woods in my backyard deepens my connection with earth and how we have to honor all that it provides. There is so much more to learn about mushrooms and I’m excited to learn and share.
I hope the next time you venture outside, you’ll look a little closer to what’s growing around you and begin a new relationship with mushrooms and plants. Don’t forget to send me some pictures.
I’ll leave you with a joke.
Why did the fungi leave the party?
You’ll have to email me for the answer.
Peace, Power & Plants
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