Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wild mushrooms-Hunting the Oyster mushroom

Toward the end of the Morel hunting season and after a couple days of good rain. It is usually a good time to start hunting oyster mushrooms. Although Morel mushrooms have to be the most popular there are many good wild mushrooms to be picked though out the summer and fall. In the early part of the summer one of the first to appear are the oyster mushrooms. These can pretty much be divided into 2 groups. The most popular being the summer oyster ( Pleurotus populinus), And the darker fall version (Pleurotus ostreatus).

One advantage to hunting the fall oyster mushroom is you don’t have as many problems with insects destroying the mushrooms before you can get to them. As far as look a likes- there are not many. Most of them are so tough or thin you can’t eat them anyway. I find the summer oysters growing mostly on dead or dying poplar trees, from ground level all the way to the top of the tree. Which can get kind of frustrating if you are a short person like me.

This mushroom can get pretty large. Cap-2 ¼ to 5 ½ inches.

Color-Brownish white to white or grayish- in the shape of an oyster shell as the name implies.

There is a very short stem if any. The flesh is white. The spore print should be white to lilac.

The oyster mushroom is classified as an excellent edible.
This article is written for educational purposes only. If you are not sure what you are picking- don’t eat it! If you are new to mushroom hunting purchase some good books. Consult a professional for positive identification.

Chanterelle Mushroom- Hunting Wild Mushrooms

With summer almost here the thought of hunting Chanterelle Mushrooms gets me pretty excited. This is one of my favorites. This mushroom is one of the easiest wild mushrooms to identify. They are very good and many times grow in large quantities. They have excellent size, caps ranging 1 ¼ to 6 inches. They have a good texture and taste great. They also freeze well for later use. I have not tried canning these- but think they would also take to that very well. Their color being yellow to a yellowish orange makes them very easy to find. There are some poisonous look a likes so be sure of your identification before eating them. The Chanterelle Mushroom has a great smell. It smells just like fresh apricots. They don’t have true gills, but instead have shallow thick edged wrinkles and veins descending down the stem of the mushroom, often being crossed veined and distant. The stems are about the same color as the caps being ¾-2 1/4 by ¼ to 1 inch. They are found in July though September here in this part of the country. I seem to have my best luck in hardwood forest areas. But I have found these in almost any type of wooded area. As with almost any mushroom you do need the moisture in order to have a good season. Their are also growing kits available for Chanterelle Mushrooms.If you are new to Mushroom Hunting be sure to consult a professional for positive identification. If you are not sure what it is -don’t eat it.

Wild Mushrooms spoor print

There are many wild mushrooms species that have look a likes that are poisonous. It is crucial that you are able to positively identify the mushroom. The most dangerous species are members of the genus Amanita, which includes the well known Death cap, Destroying Angle and the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric. All with white spoor prints. If you have a good mushroom book or guide it will list the spoor print colors for each mushroom along with the shape and size of the spoors.To make a spoor print, take a full grown cap and lay it gill side down on a clean piece of glass. Cover the mushroom cap with a glass or jar. This keeps any breeze or air movement from blowing the spoors away. It also helps keep the mushroom cap from drying out. Left overnight the cap should give you a good print. Use a razor blade and scrape the spoors together to get a good color observation.

Foraging for edible Mushrooms in the Wild

If you like mushrooms this has to be one of the most rewarding outdoor activities you can engage in. Foraging for mushrooms depending on the time of year and conditions,  you can be rewarded with pounds of this delightful and edible entrĂ©e. But beware along with the delightful and edible comes deadly. Make it a practice and a rule-know your deadly mushrooms as well as the edible along with the species that can make you very ill. Know what you are picking. If you are new to mushroom hunting consult an expert for a positive identification before eating them. Confirm your identification. Save a specimen in your fridge for a period of time incase you should become ill, this will give the physician something go by, and don’t over eat. Remember even edible mushrooms may make you ill. If something in your system doesn’t agree with them. Start by eating a small quantity. There are many edible mushrooms though out the season that are easy to positively identify. Purchase yourself a good book on the subject. There are many good resources out their. One very good source for information is your local state agricultural extension service. They often have booklets on this subject at little or no cost. Many of the state universities offer seminars along with field trips that have the experts on hand to confirm your identification. There is usually a charge for this but well worth your investment. I have listed below a couple of the books I use. They are very useful for the beginner or advanced mushroom hunter.

A Guide to North American Mushrooms
Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America

Morel mushrooms

With the coming of spring many of us are looking forward to foraging for morel’s. These mushrooms being easy to identify are favored among many mushroom hunters. They are very good and found in very large quantities in many parts of the country. They are even picked and sold commercially.Here in Upper Michigan we first see the black morels around the end of April. With the white or yellow morels starting to appear a couple of weeks later. This mushroom should not be eaten raw only fully cooked. It took a lot of exploring when I first started hunting morels to find some good spots I could depend on year after year.Hunting for the black morels I seem to have the best luck on the edge of fields with the mushrooms being scattered among the poplar trees. Also old apple orchards are pretty good areas to check out. If you have any forest areas near you that have burnt in the last couple years these are also good places to search in.For white or yellow morels old gravel pits are the best places I have ever found, search the wooded edges as well as the bottom of the pit. I have seen them growing pushing the pebbles right out of the ground. Walk down and look. They are real good at hiding and will blend right in with the white rocks.Take your time and walk slow its easy to go right by them. I remember one time, I had been searching for what seemed like miles and had found nothing. I decided to take a break and sat down to rest on a log. After I had been sitting for a few minutes my eyes started wandering around. To my surprise there they were right in front of me. I had walked right by them.
So get out this spring and explore the outdoors. As a bonus you may bring some of the delicious morel mushrooms home to your table.
Remember if you cannot positively identify don’t eat. consult an expert for identification.