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Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

mushrooming_3_editThis week I had the strongest urge to head into the woods and find some mushrooms. It’s full blown mushroom season in the pacific northwest, and the woods are alive with new life as the rain returns and quenches the thirst of late summer.

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Processed with VSCOcamI was especially keen on finding some chanterelles. They didn’t appear right away, but to my surprise, the first thing I found was a king bolete. King of the forest! Porcini!  Delicious, beautiful bolete! I thought it was pretty lucky, but then happened to find a few throughout our wander.

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hedgehog_1_editThe mushroom above caught my attention, as it looked similar to a chanterelle from a distance, but on closer inspection we found it was actually a hedgehog mushroom. The giveaway is the spiny or toothy looking underside – like the body of a hedgehog.

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big_brown_1_editA deer mushroom? Not sure about this one. If I would have tried harder to identify it, I would have paid closer attention to how the stalk snapped and what was going on in those gills.

mushrooming_1_editSO many kinds of mushrooms in the woods right now. So many I could hardly begin to share them all with you!

conch_0_editI think this might be a Red Belted Conk (the orange-hued one). If so, it has some pretty powerful medicinal properties.

coral_0_editA type of coral or club mushroom. Many of this group are edibile, but can be hard to ID (we didn’t pick any). There is a salmon-colored coral mushroom that looks a lot like this one pictured, that will dye wool a purple color!

hydnellum_peckii_0_editThis crazy looking bleeding mushroom was new to us both, and totally freaked us out. We thought for sure it was deadly poison (or some weird, confectionary delicacy?). This is Hydnellum Peckii, and while it’s not edible, due to it’s bitterness, it’s actually not known to be poisonous. It works symbiotically with conifers, as do many mushrooms, and plays it’s important part in the ecosystem.

toad_1_editA patient, quiet toad who let me get incredibly close for a photo.

mushrooming_2_editDeer ferns galore.

chanterelle_4_editThe chanterelle! Steven spotted this particular patch on a little hill.

chanterelle_3_editWhen harvesting chanterelles, cutting above the stem base will allow more chanterelles to fruit in the same spot later. The beginnings of more chanterelles are contained in the stringy mycelium that connects to the mushroom base. It’s important to understand how to properly harvest mushrooms so we do not cause unnecessary harm to the delicate ecosystems we are disturbing.

Processed with VSCOcamThe chanterelle is, for sure, my favorite mushroom. Their unique, earthy, spiciness and full texture is hard to beat. That color is so beautiful, and their smell is unmistakable.

mushrooming_4_editWhile we ate dinner last night, enjoying the experience of the mushrooms we found, I said how, in many ways, it feels much more exciting to eat food that I have found in the wild than the food I have grown in our garden. It makes me feel alive and a part of things in a way that is deep and enduring. Like an animal. A part of the universe. I feel encouraged to learn to identify more of the edible plants around me. We live in such a lush and amazing place here.

Note: My main resource for mushroom identification is All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms, by David Arora. It fits in my back pocket and is packed with PNW mushroom knowledge. As with any kind of wildcrafting of edibles, be sure you can 100% identify that the plant you pick to eat is what you think it is. And be sure to always treat the land, and the plants and animals that you encounter, with the utmost respect and care.

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This week we started our first set of Shiitake mushroom spawn. We had a few small Alder trees on our property that needed to be removed, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start growing our own mushrooms. True hardwoods are a little tough to come by here, but Alder makes a great host for a number of mushroom varieties.

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We ordered Pearl Oyster and Shiitake plug spawn (essentially, hardwood dowels inoculated with a particular mushroom species), from Fungi Perfecti. They are located right up in the Puget Sound of Washington. For a company more local to those of you on the east coast, there is also Oyster Creek Mushrooms in Damariscotta, Maine. I have been impressed with Paul Stamets’ work for years, so it felt great to support Fungi Perfecti.

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The process is pretty simple. Holes are drilled throughout the logs – 5/16″ x 1 1/4″ deep –  spaced about every 4-5 inches apart.  We used 5 small to mid sized Alder logs in this case.

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Then the dowels are pounded into the holes so they are flush with the surface of the bark.

mushrooms_1000_4This step was optional, but we opted for the safer route and heated some beeswax to seal each entry. This protects the interior wood, and minimizes potential competition or disruption to the spawn.

mushrooms_1000_5We set the logs in 2 different sites, shady with filtered light, propped off the ground on small cuts of wood.

mushrooms_1000_6As a final step we watered them, and now we let them do their thing, with occasional watering during dry periods. Hopefully we will have successful inoculation of the logs, and we should be able to start harvesting shiitake mushrooms by next year. We will do this same process with our oyster mushroom plugs soon.

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Mushrooms are a great source of essential amino acids and a number of vitamins – including A, B12, C and D. Many mushroom types are supportive to the immune system, have been shown to lower cholesterol and have been found to be cancer-fighting. The medicinal qualities of Shiitake mushrooms (as well as so many others) have been well known for many years, and they are delicious too!

Here are a couple of resources for those interested:

Medicinal Mushrooms – http://www.medicalmushrooms.net

Paul Stamets – http://www.fungi.com/about-paul-stamets.html

Shiitake Health benefits (grow kits available too, out of Mississippi) – http://www.naturalmushrooms.com/shiitake_mushroom_medicinal.php

Anyone growing mushrooms at home? I can’t wait to see these start to grow!

This post has also been published on Tend this week.

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