Monday, November 5, 2007

Wild Edibles I did pick, post #2/2

A writing challenge to myself: finish this post before the Chanterelle Blue Cheese quiche is out of the oven -- go!

There were a few more dandy edibles that we picked while out last weekend. Two of them are in the Boletus family. I like Boletes for picking with beginning mushroomers because it has a safety built into it. If it has sponge instead of gills underneath, it's at least safe to pick and check out later (if there isn't a mentor around to check). The worst you get in the pacific N.W. is one that will slime up like a slug when cooked, or be bitter as hell and obviously inedible (big hint, when the bitter bolete is sliced with a knife the whole flesh section turns blue very quickly). So, relatively harmless compared to some of the other scary fungi out there in our forests.

The most abundant Boletus we ran across was Boletus zelleri. The magenta coloration on the stem, and the suede-leather-like brown cap are telling markers for this dandy little mushroom. It has conspicuous yellow sponge as well. Like all boletes, the bugs love em. Pick them young, and slice them in the field to make sure they aren't buggy (when is say buggy, what I really mean is maggoty, yech). They are great to eat, especially after they've been dried, with a strong enough flavor to hold up to mixed dishes and really beef up vegetarian soups and stews. They can often be found in the city, underneath large Doug Fir that are surrounded by mossy lawn. Of course you have to be sure the folks who tend the lawn don't use chemicals, and that dogs don't have access to the site. I've picked enough while driving around in an electrical van in the fall to make two large pizzas. It was great.

The next Boletus we picked, in much less quantity, was the Admirable Bolete or Boletus mirababilis. This handsome bolete grows out of rotting wood, has a slightly longer stem (generally) than the Zeller's, and doesn't have the magenta coloration on the stem. Otherwise, it is a pretty dam close look alike to the Zeller's. A nice thing when two look alikes are both tastey. I've found that when I am in old-growth forest, with plenty of rotting logs on the forest floor, and lots of moss, these can be the most conspicuous and abundant edible around. Again, since the bugs like them too, the take tends to be less than with Chanterelles, which bugs completely boycott. This is another good drying mushroom (all the Boletes are), and has a bit of a lemony flavor sometimes that is quite pleasant.

Finally, and on a completely different note, we picked Angel Wings -- Phyllotus porrigens. These are thin, translucent shelf mushrooms that like to grow especially on downed hemlock logs. They probably grow on other softwood logs as well. They are easy to identify, sometimes abundant, and often a nice look of variety in a mushroom dish. The flavor is delicate, and the texture sturdy/slightly rubbery. They won't melt in a saute pan which is nice. It's not an outrageously tasty mushroom, but it's great to add to a mushroom medley dish, and always fun to collect.

There we go, the last of this week's edibles. [general disclaimer coming, warning] Please do not use these posts as a guide to pick and eat mushrooms out of the woods. These posts are best used for fun reading, and backup material for use when you are in the woods with someone who knows their stuff. If any of my warnings about possible fungal poisonings sounded nonchalant, I didn't mean to come off that way. You really don't want to mess around with these guys as a mistake could end up being a huge one.

[all photo copyrights are credited in the text links for those mushrooms next to the photos in this page]

Enjoy your arboreal daydreamings,


No comments: