As I awoke this morning to snowflakes landing on my frostbitten windows, mushroom season felt far away. Autumn in Vermont is phenomenal yet fleeting, and it is hard to watch the long awaited fall flush shrivel up with the snow.
Still, I am a satisfied forager – after a parched summer, we were lucky to receive as much rain as we did before the cold front moved in. The fall rains brought lion’s mane, winter chanterelles, hedgehogs, maitake, aborted entolomas, oysters, porcini, blewits, honeys, and more. I will never forget my first encounter with the mighty matsutake this fall – now I understand why the Japanese are so crazy about this mushroom that they will pay upwards of $100 for a single prime specimen. How can you even put a price on such an exquisite and elusive woodland delicacy?
It may be snowing in Vermont, but foragers in the southern parts of the region are still enjoying formidable flushes of fall fungi. The brownish fall-fruiting oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) is particularly abundant this year, and it happens to be the tastiest oyster of the season – more savory and tender than the white summer species Pleurotus populinus.
Don’t wait until the frost arrives at your door – now is the time to throw on a sweater and head into the woods. If you put your forager’s eyes to work, you’ll be surprised at how many treasures still await you!