Monthly Archives: August 2011

ForageCast: Week of August 30, 2011

A taste of the recent bounty: yellow feet, lion's mane and smooth chanterelles!

Now is the time to be a mushroom forager. I thought this to myself yesterday as I followed an epic vein of porcinis down a moist wash at the forest’s edge. While Hurricane Irene wrought havoc upon many parts of the Eastern seaboard, in Ithaca all we got was rain. This rain, on top of plentiful August showers, has awakened the legions of fungi in the forest.

With cooler temperatures, we are seeing a whole new set of species begin to emerge. As new species come, those that prefer milder weather go; in fact, this week I have removed the chanterelle from the ForageCast since I am only seeing the occasional rotting specimen. But nature is all too kind – those of us who cannot part with the chanterelle’s singular apricot aroma and delicate floral notes have been provided with a new cluster of chanterelles to pursue.

After almost getting lost following my porcini path, I decided it was time to get back on trail and see if there were any mushrooms waiting for me ahead. At that point I realized my luck with the porcini was no fluke – the forest was littered with mushrooms. It didn’t take me long to find a nice flush of mature smooth chanterelles (featured in last week’s ForageCast), followed by an even nicer crop of yellow foot chanterelles.

There are two types of chanterelle often referred to as “yellow foot” – the orange-capped Craterellus ignicolor (what I found) and the brownish-capped Craterellus tubaeformis. Both have semi-hollow stems, well-developed false gills, and the fruity scent and flavor of their bigger brethren. Newer foragers should stick to the smooth chanterelle, which is safer to ID because of its larger size and distinctive, slightly wrinkled underside.

The safest chanterelle-like mushroom of all to forage is definitely the hedgehog, featured in the ForageCast for the week of August 15. With its orange-yellow cap, toothed belly, and chanterelle-esque aroma, the hedgehog is difficult to mistake for anything else. It comes in two sizes: big (Hydnum repandum) and small (H. umbilicatum). I still have not seen any this fall, but people have reported sightings to The Mushroom Forager.

Even without any hedgehogs, by last night my fridge was stuffed with wild mushrooms. To top it all off, this morning before work I took Judah for a quick hike only to find a downed tree covered in lion’s mane – my first of the season. With so many gourmet mushrooms popping up across the Eastern seaboard, I urge you to seize the day and go for a jaunt into the woods.  Let me know what you find!

Northeastern ForageCast for the week of August 30, 2011!

ForageCast: Week of August 23, 2011

A bicolor bolete - as delicious as it is beautiful!

Last week we had rain.  This week we have mushrooms! Seemingly overnight, the woods have exploded with a colorful and diverse cast of fungi. I am overjoyed but, quite frankly, a bit overwhelmed. After weeks of waiting, interrupted by the occasional flush of mediocre mushrooms, the past few days I have felt like a kid in a candy store as I wander through the woods. Porcini! Bicolor boletes! Smooth chanterelles! Parasols! Black trumpets!

At this time of year, all it takes is a few good rains to initiate fruitings of an astounding diversity of gourmet, poisonous, medicinal, bland, and beautiful mushrooms. Even some of the toxic or inedible mushrooms have been exciting to find – neon red waxy caps, hulking yellow fly agarics, dangerously innocuous looking destroying angels (watch out!), and Russulas that crumble into a thousand pieces when they meet my clumsy feet. 

Beware the destroying angel!

This week we have three new additions to the ForageCast – porcini, bicolor boletes, and smooth chanterelles. I considered adding the parasol, but decided against it since anyone who is knowledgeable enough to safely forage the parasol should already know its season and habitat preferences. The parasol is a delicious mushroom, but there are plenty of other gourmet fungi in season that are safer for less experienced foragers to enjoy. The bicolor bolete has a number of look-alikes, too – make sure you have an expert with you the first time you bring this mushroom to the table.

The porcini, particularly venerated by Italians and Eastern Europeans, is one of the most celebrated gourmet mushrooms in the world. There are no deadly look-alikes, but make sure your specimen has substantial white reticulation on its white stem and pure white, non-bruising flesh to rule out the otherwise almost identical Boletus huronensis.

And smooth chanterelles! As the name suggests, they look and taste just like a chanterelle, but the underside contains wrinkles instead of attached gills. This makes them even easier to distinguish from the chanterelle’s most notorious look-alike – the poisonous, free-gilled jack o’lantern.

Northeastern ForageCast for the week of August 23, 2011!

ForageCast: Week of August 15, 2011

Not many mushrooms up here, but you can't beat the view! Summit of Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park.

As much as I have been enjoying this summer’s catch of shrimp russulas and lobster mushrooms, there’s nothing like a freshly picked Maine lobster. Ithaca’s gorges sure are gorgeous, but when we got time off work, Jenna and I decided to leave our landlocked town and head for the salty coast. So, we apologize for not updating the ForageCast the past couple weeks, but we are back just in time.

After a prolonged dry spell, rains are returning to the Northeast, bringing mushrooms with them. Today on my walk to work I spotted a hefty clump of jack o’lanterns fruiting at the base of an oak tree. I didn’t quite rejoice about finding a bushel of mushrooms capable of sending me into profound gastric distress, but the jack o’lanterns were a good sign that another round of chanterelles is on its way, too. August is peak mushroom season, so now that the rains are back all sorts of colorful characters may start decorating the forest floor. Keep an eye out for the hedgehog, or sweet tooth mushroom, which resembles a golden chanterelle until you turn it over and find that the bottom is covered in whitish teeth. The hedgehog tastes similar to a chanterelle, and is even safer to ID because of its distinctive toothed underside. Let me know if you see any hedgehogs in the woods!

Northeastern ForageCast for the week of August 15, 2011!

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.