Yay! ‘Shrooms

Last year we skimmed along the edge of drought for most of the summer, and as a result the mushrooming stank. Despite many trips into the woods, we got a single not very full gallon freezer bag of black trumpets. The good news is that it was just enough on top of 2005’s spectacular stash to get us through to this year. Black trumpets (or chanterelles) make beef stew a whole wonderfully different dish.

Black trumpet mushrooms This year we’re a rainforest. We found the first flush of black trumpets two weeks ago, along with enough boletes to fill the dryer. We didn’t get out last week, which was a big mistake. When we went out yesterday we found the remnants of a gigantic flush at our best black trumpet spot. It was late and raining so we came home with that and the boletes we’d picked along the way. We also found the biggest flush of oyster mushrooms we ever had. Lisa documented the wonderful soup they made yesterday. Despite being at the end of the flush, we had as many ‘shrooms, trumpets and boletes dried yesterday as we did all last year.

Chanterelle mushrooms We went out again today. First we visited our one reliable chanterelle patch (the small orange ones, not the big yellow ones). It came through with maybe a pound. Then we bush-wacked over the ridge to get to Mack Hill road and our secondary black trumpet play in the two seasonal (yes, this August they’re running) streams that feed the swamp. We found a few chanterelles and two patches of trumpets on the way.

We ended up at our neighbor’s place and then walked down his driveway to Mack Hill Road. We picked up the first stream we found and by the time we hit the snowmobile trail had a full basket of trumpets and a bunch of other stuff. That basket will make more than two more gallons of dried black trumpets. That’s enough for the year if we skimp and it’s only August 3rd.

Dinner We had a delicious bolete, zinfandel and beef stew tonight. There’s a sweet teeth omelet in our future too.

After we got home, I had a rush of brains to the head. Our land is peppered with red and green Russulas. We hadn’t been doing anything with them because our mentor was rather contemptuous of them, and in truth they’re undistinguished in the flavor line. However, Lisa makes probably twenty gallons of stock for our own use every year, and would like to make it for sale (That’s a dozen blog entries. Stay tuned.) There are black trumpets in every batch, and that’s under control, but there’s also half a pound of generic store bought crimini mushrooms, at 5 bucks a pound in every gallon. Our free Russulas are at least that good. How ’bout we dehydrate a bushel or so. Even last year we could have done that. From now on we’ll be coming back fully laden from every mushroom walk, and the dehydrator will run until the next one.

By the way, localvores, Lisa is from El Paso, Texas and her authentic Tex-Mex chile retired the trophy at the Marlow Winter Carnival chile contest (equivalent in global significance to the annual Boston clam chowder contest). That was before she discovered mushrooms. If you want to win your local chili contest, add some Hen of the Woods (free under the big oak in your local cemetery)/maitake ($10/lb at the supermarket) and the judges will want the recipe.

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