As a memorable golden chanterelle season winds down, a legion of fall fungi has arrived. Yellow foot chanterelles (Craterellus ignicolor and C. tubaeformis) and hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum and H. umbilicatum) thrive on the cooler days and crisp late August New England nights. Yellow foots and hedgehogs pick up where their golden relations left off, extending the season for singular chanterelle risottos right into October.
Lion’s mane, honey mushrooms, and aborted entolomas made an early appearance this fall, especially in colder pockets of the region. Meanwhile, scattered maitake sightings have been reported throughout the Northeast, and I have started my annual autumn ritual of compulsively checking older oak trees.
Two weeks ago, the pup and I spent a boys’ night camping in the Vermont wilds. I brought our camping stove, a pot, dried polenta, freshly grated Parmesan, dried log-grown shiitake, and a small mason jar with a sprig of rosemary infusing in a pool of salted extra virgin olive oil.
I could not help but stare at the ground as I marched into the moist woods, finding a lovely collection of mature golden chanterelles within minutes. As I climbed higher, I stopped every few minutes to gather oyster mushrooms from downed sugar maple and beech alongside the trail.
Soon the forest was strewn with dead and dying beech, and lion’s mane mycelium feasted on the carnage. I plucked a few choice, icicle-like clusters of Hericium coralloides, and my mushroom medley was complete.
Later that evening I sat by the light of my gas camping stove, stirring the oysters, lion’s mane, and chanterelles into the creamy polenta and inhaling the divine aromas. Even my Irish setter, no great lover of mushrooms by any means, sat in perfect reverence as I tossed salted wild mushroom morsels onto his 14-inch tongue.
I didn’t even need to use the dried shiitake I had packed in, as the fresh harvest was more than enough for a rich wild mushroom polenta dinner and a backcountry breakfast of crispy oyster mushrooms!
This week’s rain showers have renewed the forest, and the ForageCast for this weekend holds an excellent mix of summer and fall species. As you delight in the abundance, watch out for the piercingly white destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera), responsible for the majority of mushroom fatalities every year in the U.S. If you are a beginner, the only all-white mushrooms you should be eating are lion’s mane and the giant puffball!
Northeastern ForageCast for next two weeks!