A few weeks ago I went out with a group of mushroom enthusiasts and we came across a patch of beautiful black trumpet mushrooms (Craterellus fallax) also known as “black chanterelles.” Black trumpets can be very difficult to see, since they grow on the floor of hardwood forests and they blend in beautifully with the dried leaves that blanket the ground. Once you find one, and your eyes know what to look for, you are bound to find many more. Black trumpets are very thin and fragile so it takes quite a few to amount to anything, but WOW, do they pack in an enormous amount of flavor. If you are fortunate enough to find some, I recommend you saute some finely minced shallots in a hot pan with a little butter until translucent, add the cleaned black trumpets and saute for a few minutes (you always want to cook wild mushrooms thoroughly) to cook through. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
My friend Sharon and I went foraging for mushrooms last Saturday and she has written about our adventure on her blog “delicious musings.” It’s a nice story with some great pictures from our exploration of the Maine forest.
Mary Jo and I recently took a weekend trip aboard our sailboat into Penobscot Bay and did a little island and shoreline foraging. On shore we collected wild blueberries, chanterelle mushrooms and raspberries. We waded along the shoreline at low tide and collected mussels and sea urchins. Dinner that evening started with sea urchin roe, followed by steamed mussels, seared New York strip steaks with sauteed Chanterelle mushrooms and vanilla ice cream with island berries.
As a foodie, I have an avid fascination for mushrooms. Local foragers ring my doorbell several times a week to tempt me with the forests latest offerings which often make their way onto the nightly menu and generate conversation and rave reviews from our guests.
I have been foraging mushrooms in the Maine woods for many years for what a mycologist (a biologist that studies fungi) would consider “choice edible” mushrooms. Choice edible mushrooms are those that are most sought after by chefs and are somewhat easily identifiable such as: morels, chanterelles, hen of the woods, black trumpets, puff balls, chicken of the woods and oyster mushrooms. Beyond this list of edible mushrooms, I have difficulty identifying anything else I find in the woods, which is a shame since there is a whole world of edible mushrooms out there that I should be part of. Thus, I have signed up for a mushroom identification class “Mushrooming for the Serious Enthusiast” with local mushroom expert Greg Marley. Now, into my third class, I am feeling more comfortable with my fungi friends and learning the proper techniques to positively identify mushrooms. This is the cardinal rule of edible mushrooms – “Never eat a mushroom unless it is positively identified as edible” (source: Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America) or you could get very sick and even die. So stick to the mushrooms you know, or educate yourself if you would like to dive into the unknown.
In the next few months I will be blogging about my mushroom experiences, sharing information about different species and sharing recipes, techniques and tips on preparing mushrooms. So stay tuned and happy (and safe) foraging. Also, Greg Marley publishes a great mushroom email newsletter so Email him and request to be put on his list.