Useful Tips for Going Wild Mushroom Hunting
Going Mushroom Hunting
When I was a kid, back in Minsk, Belarus, my parents would always take me with them when they went to the forest for mushroom hunting. I don't remember going mushroom hunting in Minsk itself but Urmala, Latvia was definitely one place where we hunted for mushrooms.
Mushroom hunting was so much fun for me as a kid, and to this day I feel the same. Not only do I get to hike and take in the fresh air of the woods, but I also get to hunt for mushrooms, which is exciting and a lot of fun. By "hunt for mushrooms" I mean walking around the woods/forest trying to find them. Sometimes, they are right in your face and sometimes they are hidden behind leaves and such... It's like playing hide and go seek. The mushrooms are hiding and I have to find them.
I recently went mushroom hunting with my parents, my aunt/uncle and a few of our friends. We rented a house in Truro, Massachusetts, which is near Provincetown. We stayed there for a week and every day sometimes even twice a day we went mushroom hunting and came back to the house with baskets full of mushrooms. Some we dried. Some we boiled and froze, and some we marinated. There were so many mushrooms it was unbelievable.
How to Know Which Mushrooms Are Edible...
Having gone mushroom hunting many times I know which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous and should be avoided. If I find a mushroom and am not sure if it's good or not, which is rare, I ask my dad or someone else who knows about it.Better be safe than sorry.
Never mix edible mushrooms with those you are not sure about as the unsure mushrooms may turn out to be poisonous.
There are different mushrooms that you can find in the forest that are safe and good to eat. Some of the common ones are chanterelle, boletus (porcini in Italian), and suillus. One of the mushrooms that is rare to find, but one that is edible, is Old Man of the Wood.
How to Cook Mushrooms
When you pick mushrooms from the forest you have to wash them, peel the skin if necessary and boil them before you do anything else with them. When boiling forest mushrooms you have to place a whole onion (unsliced) into the pot. If the onion turns blue that means some or all of the mushrooms are not edible. If that is the case all the mushrooms should be thrown out, even if there were only a few bad mushrooms in the pot.
After boiling the mushrooms with the onion, if you find that the onion is its normal color you then can drain and fry the mushrooms, or you can marinate them or even freeze them in the water they were boiled in.
You can also dry the mushrooms and then later make mushrooms from them. If you choose to dry them you need to buy a dehydrator. You don't have to boil the mushrooms before drying them, but you do need to clean them and remove any dirt or grass, etc.
Mushroom Hunting and Picking Mushrooms
Some of the forest mushrooms like boletus (porcini), chanterelles, and even suillus can be found in the store marinated, dried, or even fresh but it's more fun to find them yourself in the forest. At least it is for me.
The right time to pick mushrooms is usually in August and September... when there has been plenty of rainfall. If there is no rain then most likely you will not find any mushrooms in the forest. So before going mushroom hunting, especially to a faraway place, be sure to check the forecast to see if it had rained recently and if it will rain soon. No point in making the trip to pick mushrooms if there will be no mushrooms there. Of course even with the rainfall there is no guarantee that there will be mushrooms when you get there. Others may have already picked them or maybe they didn't even grow. And they could be spoiled too if too wet, etc. So, you are taking a chance when going mushroom hunting. Still, it's exciting and a lot of fun and a great way to spend the day.
© 2012 Lena Kovadlo