Saturday, September 26, 2009

But wait, there's more!

Like wine caps! (Stropharia rugosoannulata). This is a mushroom I've heard of and searched for, but never found until I was walking with my students on the NYBG grounds last week. Wine cap mushrooms grow in wood chips, and sure enough they were popping up in the mulch under several trees, just begging to be picked. Which I obligingly did.

Sadly, in my excitement, I neglected to take a really good i.d. photo, showing the dark purple-brown gills, the corrugated ring, and the cord-like roots that help i.d. this mushroom. Since I was leaving town the next day for a Garden Writers' conference in Raleigh, NC (where I am now), it was all I could do to get them clean and processed. Can't wait to taste them when I get home.

Raleigh has been fun, although I've been underwhelmed by the gardens we've seen. The street signs sure are entertaining though:

Friday, September 18, 2009

In fall, a woman's fancy turns to


I'd like to say I'm a well-balanced, even-keeled woman, but it's hard to do that with a straight face. Especially this time of year, when I become almost entirely obsessed with mushrooms. I can't explain the exhilaration I feel; it's not just the thrill of the hunt, nor the deliciousness of the harvest, nor the satisfaction of accomplishing something unusual and difficult. It's a synergistic combination of all this and more that I can't quite articulate.

This fall I'm indulging my desire by re-taking Gary Lincoff's 4 week class at the NYBG: Mushroom Mania. It IS a kind of mania. After I cook a particularly delicious mushroom, I can't stop thinking about it for days. I want more, I wake up dreaming about the taste, which can't be re-created with a cultivated fungus.

I've posted here before about my summer mushroom finds: black trumpets, cinnabar red chantarelles, and purple-gilled laccaria. Now that the weather has changed, there's a different mushroom menu to choose from, and this weekend I found two new (to me!) edibles:

1) Lactarius corrugis (corregated lactarius)

oozes a milky white liquid when you scratch the gills with your fingernail. It stains brown, and you can see the scratch above, on the back of the mushroom. The fungus smells fishy when it starts to age, but the smell disappears with cooking and the mushroom is almost sweet to taste. The cap can be 4-5 inches across, so just a few can make a meal. The crackled edges of the cap give it the corrugated look. I also found L. volemus, a similar mushroom which oozes a yellow sap (see opening photo). Its cap is smoother than that of L. corrugis but in all other respects it's a very similar mushroom.

2) Hydnum repandum (sweet tooth)

has no poisonous look-alikes, which is SO good to know! I saw one last week in class for the first time, so I was pretty sure this was it when I found it, a mere 15 feet away from the two Lactarius. The combination of hardwoods and conifers in our PA woods is indeed fortuitous. This mushroom has a finely toothed under-surface and the cap is buff to orange. It's perennial, so I'll be checking that spot on a regular basis!

Class again tomorrow afternoon...who knows what we'll find! I'm hoping for honey mushrooms.