Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New kids on the wild mushroom block - lessons learned

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
I don't know what has gotten into me these days, but four weeks ago I decided to do something entirely new, something I've never thought that I would be doing.

- To forage for edible wild mushrooms.

We live close to the woods here in Oslo, and it would be a shame if we didn't discover the gems of our nearby forest :-)

So what have we learned about wild mushrooms and how do you find them?
New kids on the wild mushroom block - lessons learned
New kids on the wild mushroom block - lessons learned

Before starting, it was critical to sign up for an arranged mushroom trip with an expert to learn about wild mushrooms. We barely knew how to identify chanterelles, which is considered as a 'beginner's mushroom'.

From August to October there's also a weekly mushroom control on Sundays at three different locations in Oslo.

Sure, it's exciting to look for wild mushrooms, but if you happen to eat something you're not sure about, this can cost your life, or at least your liver.
Drying chanterelles on a newspaper
Drying chanterelles on a newspaper

I researched the topic heavily and became an online member of three Facebook groups.

Scandinavian readers, check out these forums:

Until now, we've been on five mushroom trips whereas two of them were with a mushroom expert who can identify your finds. The other times we've stopped by the mushroom control, to check the basket for deadly mushrooms.

Fortunately, there weren't any deadly finds - only mushrooms that could cause diarrhea such as the Fenugreek milkcap (Lactarius helvus / lakrisriske).

We've learned two mushrooms that we now feel confident about picking - without the help of a mushroom control. These are:
  • Yellow chanterelle (gul kantarell)
  • Funnel chanterelle (Yellow Foot / traktkantarell)
Funnel chanterelle from Norwegian forests / Traktkantareller fra Østmarka
Funnel chanterelle from Norwegian forests /
Traktkantareller fra Østmarka

The yellow chanterelle doesn't have any deadly look-a-likes, at least here in Norway. But the funnel chanterelle can be mistaken for the deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus / giftslørsopp), which grows in the same area as chanterelles - sometimes very close to funnel chanterelles.

In fact, we learned in detail how the deadly webcaps look like. Because if you find deadly webcaps, there's a chance that you'll also find chanterelles in the same area. It's all connected ;-)

I'm babbling about chanterelles, but there are of course other excellent edible mushrooms, such as porcini (steinsopp), orange milk-cap (granmatriske) and 'Fishy Milk-cap' (mandelriske). We were lucky to find porcini on our first trip and one fishy milkcap on our second trip. 

My only reason for choosing to pick chanterelles is that these are rarely eaten by worms, while other edible mushrooms tend to be filled with worms, eating their way through the mushroom. Examples are the 'Gypsy' mushroom (rimsopp) and porcini.

Forest in our local area / Østmarka nær Bogerud
Forest in our local area / Østmarka nær Bogerud

What I find challenging about finding edible mushrooms is how to read the terrain. 

September is almost over, which means that a lot of the mushrooms have already been picked. To find new areas, we need to go deeper into the woods.

You should know what type of conditions the mushrooms thrive in. With funnel chanterelles, you'll usually find them in clusters below or around the roots of spruce and pine trees, hidden in the moss and grass where it's dark, moist and comfy. A funnel chanterelle has a brown/gray cap, which makes it hard to spot.

The few yellow chanterelles we found were below a birch tree. I'm mentioning trees a lot and the reason for that is simple. Chanterelles are hard to grow, because in nature they grow in a symbiotic relationship with plant or tree roots, called mycorrhizae.

In other words; no trees, no mushrooms.

I don't know how many times I've been on my knees, searching for this delicious chanterelle. My boyfriend is excellent at spotting them. He says it's because he's a gamer and used to look for details. Hahahaha.

I on the other hand, have a hard time focusing on one spot. But hey - practice makes the master ;-)

Read: September seasonal food - the root vegetables.
The funnel chanterelle - yellow foot mushroom
The funnel chanterelle - yellow foot mushroom

Sometimes it's pure dumb luck if you stumble on an area with edible mushrooms. But it helps to know what you're looking for and research that particular mushroom.

Afterwards in the woods, the key is to keep an eye on the ground and tune in.

On our last mushroom trip, we were lucky to find black chanterelles (svart trompetsopp), also known as the black trumpet.

We were not even looking for it, but there it was - a pretty large area filled with black trumpets. Unfortunately, many of them had decayed. One of the mushroom experts told us that it was rare to find these, and even rarer to find them as late as September. Normally you'll find black chanterelles in August.
Lovely black chanterelles/black trumpets found in Oslo / Svart trompetsopp funnet i Østmarka
Lovely black chanterelles/black trumpets found in Oslo /
Svart trompetsopp funnet i Østmarka

Can't wait to eat black chanterelles!
Can't wait to eat black chanterelles!

All in all, it has been a great wild mushroom season for us! :-)

Maybe we'll head out on a sixth trip this weekend, but it depends on the weather. The weather has been dry and sunny in Oslo. All it takes for the mushrooms to flourish is a lot of rain and for the warm temperature to hold.

Continue to read:
My autumn breakfast - how to make a refreshing chanterelle sandwich.

Simple tips for reducing waste on taco nights.

Have your say about what you just read :)

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