Parched soil means few, if any, mushrooms.

After an abundant beginning to the chanterelle and black trumpet season, the recent bout of spectacular weather has sent the mushrooms back into hiding. I am still finding chanterelles and black trumpets, but, as local master forager Carl Whittaker recently remarked, there is nothing more “depressing” than sorting through vast swaths of dried up chanterelles, hoping to find a few decent specimens.

Regardless, it is hard to complain about 80-degree, sun-soaked days. And while many of the best edibles are shriveling up, there are still plenty of Russulas and Boletes painting the forest floor with their boldly colored caps.

Backpacking in the Adirondacks this weekend, I pointed out a frisbee-sized bitter bolete (Tylopilus felleus) to two of my friends. I told them it was innocuous but tongue-numbingly bitter, and apparently this was all they needed to know to dig in. They didn’t make it past the first bite, but they seemed to take some masochistic pleasure in the tingling on their tongues that lingered long after they had spit the morsel out! Needless to say, never taste a mushroom unless you are confident of its ID, and never taste a bitter bolete even if you are confident of its ID – unless you are the type of person who enjoys sucking on Sichuan peppercorns!

Northeastern ForageCast for the week of July 18, 2011