Friday, October 2, 2009

a woman obsessed!

After being in NC last weekend I had a long list of chores to accomplish at home, and while I've managed to start two batches of wine and dehydrate a passel of apples, I've had to give up the dream of pickling beets and making raspberry peach jam. "Why did I run out of time," you ask? Because I found so many mushrooms!

No surprise that we had plenty of Laccaria ochropurpurea (purple-gilled laccaria), which, when cooked with purple potatoes (and onions and garlic and anchovies and lemon juice) make a delicious and colorful side dish.

The purple-gilled laccaria is a common mushroom in our front yard, and now that the temperature has gotten colder, it has new, blue company. The Blewit (Clytocibe nuda) is considered a truly choice edible mushroom. The first time I try a new mushroom I like to eat it alone to get its signature taste. I forsee Blewits sauteed in a little butter, maybe some shallots, and a splash of sherry, on toast.

Purple-gilled laccaria on the left, blewit on the right. See how different?

Coming back from the Farmers' Market this morning I saw a 50-mile-an-hour mushroom. Ok, maybe a 55-mile-an-hour mushroom.

From the car I thought (hoped, prayed) they were oyster mushrooms, but as soon as I picked one up, I saw they weren't. Unlike oysters, these white mushrooms have thick stems. They also have closely spaced gills which fork just before the rim.

They were growing in a mixed wood, closest to white pine and cherry, on underground wood. The caps are 4-5 inches in diameter and meaty. The most unusual thing I noticed was the large mat of mycelium at the bottom of the stem.

My best guess is Leucopaxillus albissimus. Sadly that isn't edible, but it's fun to try to i.d a new find...sort of like a treasure hunt. Help, anyone?

In the afternoon I spotted another traffic-stopper. Only going 45 mph this time, I saw a good sized clump of honey mushrooms growing at the base of a very dead oak tree on someone's front lawn. Michael circled back so I could ask the home owner for permission to pick. (Of course I was willing to share.) Mail was piled up in front of the door and there was no car in the driveway, but I rang the bell three times, then called out in my most penetrating stage voice, "Is anybody home? Anybody?" No one.

So I took the mushrooms. I think it's probably stealing, but I doubt if it's a misdemeanor. I rationalize that most Americans don't eat mushrooms from their front yard and that the mushrooms might have passed by the time the homowners came back. My good judgement and moral fiber abandon me when confronted with mushroom bounty. And I'm not sorry.

Honeys grow in clumps at the base of dead or dying wood (often oaks). They're meaty mushrooms, and VERY slimy when wet. This makes them well suited to pasta sauces and soups, but I found so many yesterday that I had to dry some for future use.

Don't worry loyal readers. Mushroom season is almost over. I figure I've got another few weeks to search for bear's head tooth, chicken of the woods, maitake...

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At October 5, 2009 at 7:12 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

Wow! Quite a haul! I'm hoping to have time when I'm at NYBG next week to do a little mushrooming in the forest.

At October 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM , Blogger Marie said...

Oh wow.

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