Saturday, July 9, 2011

mushroom season is early this year...

I was just about to declare this the Summer of the Bolete (and I still might) but first I have to show you my most recent harvest.


Last weekend I found the first small black trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides) a full month earlier than usual. I gave our guests the spiel about how our black trumpets never got very big, maybe for nutritional reasons, I wasn't sure, blah blah blah, and we ate the little buggers in several incarnations.


I checked back this afternoon to find MUCH larger trumpets. So exciting. I may have even shouted out something ridiculous like hot diggity dog. (Mushrooms cause me to lose all dignity.) What exactly made a liar out of me, I'm not sure, but I'm certainly not complaining. Perhaps the recent, generous rains, perhaps the lack of mowing, perhaps the mushroom goddess wanted to give me a little something special knowing I'll be gone for 2 weeks in Alaska.

This delicious mushroom, with no poisonous look alikes, is one of several to be featured in my upcoming edible yard book, and since I wasn't expecting them quite so early (and our next formal photo shoot isn't scheduled for 3 weeks) I thought I'd better take a few photos. Rob Cardillo is the photographer for this book, and watching him work has been an education. His images are superb not only because they are well composed and perfectly lit, with depth of field carefully chosen to illustrate his point, but also because he insists each image must tell a story.

Bearing that in mind, I positioned the mushrooms in the moss


then tried another angle with a bit of moss on the plate.


You see, black trumpets almost always grow in conjunction with some kind of moss. Spray pesticides on your lawn to kill the moss and there's no way you'll find any black trumpets there.

And now for the boletes. I'm not great with bolete i.d. but I do know there are none that will kill you and that by following a few simple rules, you can probably avoid stomach upset: no yellow, orange, or red pored boletes that bruise blue, no orange capped Leccinum species.

Last weekend we canoed over to the swamp (practicing for Alaska) and I was thrilled to find painted suillus (Suillus pictus), one of the easiest boletes to identify.

They grow exclusively with white pines, have velvety caps, a veil, and a stalk marked with scabers, not netting.

Later that same day I found Boletus variipes in the front yard.

B. variipes is a close relative of B. edulis aka the king mushroom. So close that most people treat it as such. This one has white netting (reticulation) on the top part of the stalk. I needed a magnifying glass to see it. The flavor is said to intensify when dried, as does that of the black trumpet. We ate some fresh, and the rest went into the dehydrator.

Later this afternoon, when the sun gets lower in the sky, we'll take the canoe back over to the swamp to look for more suillus[es?]. You know how greedy I am.

Heading for Alaska on Wednesday, back on 7/26. I'll have no computer or cell phone and wouldn't be able to get service anyway. That's how it is when you're north of the arctic circle floating down the John River. Stories to follow.

2 Comments:

At July 9, 2011 at 8:23 PM , Anonymous Zoe said...

Ooh - Matt will squeal with envy when I show him your post. We have never found black trumpets, but I think it is his current life goal. Yours are beautiful. Yes, boletes aplenty! Our most recent ID (yesterday) is bicolor, which are lovely and supposedly choice, but that red-yellow-blue-staining category that I will just admire from afar. Fish milk caps for dinner yesterday. When I close my eyes at night... mushrooms, lots.

Have a wonderful trip!!!

 
At July 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM , Anonymous frank@nycgarden said...

The boletes do seem tricky to Id bolete to bolete. I know I've seen them in the Pine Barrens.

I like the trumpet, though, and will look for that.

HAve a great trip!

 

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