Mushroom Musings

I think we can call the mushroom season over, so I want to sum things up for future years.

On the wild mushroom front we’ve done well: we’ve learned to recognize several very good species. Puffballs, chanterelles and sweet teeth in all show promise. Unfortunately I don’t like the texture of the little puffballs as well as that of their giant cousins. Chanterelles are delicious, but we tend to get just a few per outing. I’m hoping that the freezing experiment works because we certainly accumulate enough over a year to make a couple nice dishes. If we have to dry them we can. We also have a batch of frozen sweet teeth. I’m not even sure if they’re strong enough flavored to dry.

I’m not sure that I care for coral fungus. It made an ok omellette, but frankly Lisa’s standard ones are far better.

We still have quite a stash of dried black trumpets and I’m looking forward to eating more of them. The stew we included them in had three other kinds of mushrooms as well. It was delicious, but I can’t pin it on the trumpets. We seem to have many however, and dried they go for $30 to $50 a pound on the web.

The big win is honey mushrooms: This wet year every dead maple sapling on our 300 acres seemed to be surrounded by them. We didn’t get to try them till after the first frost, so we only have two packages in the freezer this year, but even if it’s dry next year we should be able to freeze several pounds.

We don’t seem to have Hen-of-the-Woods (Maitake). I wonder if we can inoculate our oaks. I looked into getting truffle inoculated oaks, but apparently truffles can’t handle frozen soil, which pretty much ends things here where the worst case frost depth is four feet.

Cultivated mushrooms haven’t done as well.

We’ve gotten nothing from the blewits, and two tiny elm oysters. I planted them in wood chips, which isn’t where they really want to be, and though the spawn run started off well it seems to have stalled in both cases. Obviously I’ll give them another year, but I expect I need to find them compost to live in rather than chips. Maybe in the veggie garden.

The wine-caps did give us one good flush. Interestingly all around the outside of the log bed. Stamets mentions that they like to fruit at the soil interface, and we’d put cardboard under the chips to block weeds. But of course that was also where the mycellium ran out of food. Clearly I need to try another bed without cardboard. I bought the spawn from Field and Forest rather than Fungi Perfecti, so we didn’t get the humongous ones. But I feel more comfortable with a strain used to Wisconsin winters rather than Oregon ones.

The wine cap mycellium is also doing a good number on the chips. Good because we simply don’t have enough coffee to quickly compost all the chips we have. I’m reluctant however to inoculate the big chip beds in the new veggie garden. They mycellium would probably spend years getting through all the chips, and when it did we’d have 100 pounds in one week. And we’ve verified the rumor that you shouldn’t eat wine caps too many days in a row. We had them three days in a row and both got stomach cramps. Delicious as they are, there’s a limit to how many of these we want in the freezer.

Next year I want to try oyster mushrooms in a chip bed. This year I let Field and Forest talk me out of it. If they fruit, that’s wonderful. Even if they don’t maybe they’ll compost even better than the wine caps. I also want to try Lions Mane. Another chip bed operation, even if that’s not the preferred method.

I’m leaning to dumping five pounds each of oyster and wine cap into the chip piles by the sawmill and seeing what happens.

The disappointment is not finding something to grow in the pine bark mulch in the main garden. We actually had a pretty big crop of something this year, but it seems to be Galerina autumnalis which is deadly. I’ll keep looking, and also try to figure out how to get enough compost to stop buying pine bark mulch. then we can grow elm oyster.

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