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!