Saturday, October 12, 2013

Money well spent.

A couple of weeks after I'd taken the mushroom foraging class, I pulled into my driveway and spotted a flash of orange on the ground in the woods.  I thought someone had dropped a piece of bright plastic, so I walked in to pick it up.  Instead, I found these fungi growing from the stump of a rotting tree I'd had cut down.  The bigger one on the right is 16 inches across. The pattern looked like "turkey tails" (trametes versicolor, if you were wondering) but wasn't the right brown/tan colors, so I snapped a picture and sent it to the mushroom guy, Whitey.  He said they were a dead ringer for the edible "chicken of the woods" and suggested I cut a sample and bring it to his both at the farmer's market for a definite ID.
Off I went, past happy dancing toddlers and booths of crafts, produce, baked goods and the mushroom guy.  Laetiporus sulphureus, or chicken of the woods, is apparently one of the "foolproof four" mushrooms for which there is no toxic look-alike.  Whitey had some at his booth, for $12/pound.  I found them on-line for $16.   I told him I'd found several pounds and he smiled at me and said, "You just paid for your class!"
After discussing how to prepare and freeze them, I went home to get my knife and bring in all that I could find.  My initial harvest was over five pounds, and then I went back into the woods to look around a little and found another two pounds or so on a nearby log.  Even after cutting off the tougher parts, I still had way more than the $20 I'd paid to take the class.
Getting them ready to freeze was easy - you just wipe them off, cut off the thick stems, slice them into strips, and pack into ziploc bags.  I read up on them and discovered that some people have a mild reaction, so to try a small it first.  I sautéed up a batch in olive oil and my younger son and I each ate a couple of bites.  Nothing.  Next weekend he's here, I'll make an omelet with some.
Ironically, cooked mushrooms are on my no-go list of foods.  It's a texture issue.  For me, it's like biting into a slug.  Which is even more ironic since I actually like escargot.  But with this bonanza I decided I was going to un-learn this particular food phobia.  And they were good - the texture is meaty and they have a taste that is vaguely lemony.  My son said they tasted like eggs to him.  But there is no hint of the icky texture of the canned mushrooms I grew up hating, so I'm definitely going to be eating these.   After all, how often does your yard hand you about 80 bucks worth of gourmet mushrooms?

33 comments:

  1. " After all, how often does your yard hand you about 80 bucks worth of gourmet mushrooms?"

    Wow...that is AMAZING!!! 80 bucks worth?! I think you have a great second job here - growing and selling mushrooms!

    I love the first photo you took of the mushrooms. The color of them are incredible. I don't think I've ever seen an orange mushroom before, especially that color orange - so bright.

    I bet they'll taste great in an omelet. Sounds yummy!

    And you're right, canned mushrooms have the ickiest texture. Almost rubbery.

    And I love how organized you are with bagging each patch and labeling them with the date!

    X

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    1. When I move away from here, I'm taking that log with me! And isn't the color great? So vivid!

      I have found that if I don't label things I freeze I forget when I packaged them.

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  2. dang....i would say that you more than paid for you class...i like mushrooms...and bet they will go good in the omelet as well...

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    1. It was wroth it just for the fun of it, but I was pretty stoked to know I actually came out ahead.

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  3. They are pretty! Neat to find how they were also edible!! Great investment that class of yours indeed!

    betty

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    1. The instructor said I'm really lucky to have that log in my yard because they will come back every year.

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  4. there is a very good mashroom season here, I never learnt about mashrooms, everything I know about them is from my parents' lessons:)

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    1. All my childhood food gathering lessons had to do with working on our farm!

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  5. I'm amused by the name......Chicken of the woods. Does it taste like chicken?

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    1. It's supposed to. I haven't eaten chicken in more than 12 years, though, so I can't say if it does or not. I do know that you can use it in recipes that call for chicken strips.

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  6. Great find! I've had them a couple times in Oregon, sauteed in butter with a grilled steak makes a fab meal.

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    1. That wouldn't work for me since I don't eat mammal.

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  7. a fine example of learning through blogs - thanks. There might be some textures that I don't care for but I can't think of one at the moment. I do know many people have big issues with food textures. I love mushrooms.

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    1. You're welcome. I've always been a little finicky about food textures.

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  8. That is so cool....what a find! I love the picture, such a beautiful mushroom.

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  9. Wow, what a deal. Personally, I don't care if my mushrooms are a little.. um.. sluggish. :) I frequently slice and freeze mushrooms from the grocery store. They do great in soup.

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    1. I really don't like mushrooms in soup unless they're cut too tiny to bite into.

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  10. i didn't know you grew up on a farm.

    what a haul. what fun.

    love
    kj

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  11. "When I move away from here, I'm taking that log with me!" Good thinking! As you say, that haul certainly paid for the class! I love mushrooms cooked any way at all, I've never noticed the "sluggish" texture! LIke you, I always date what I put in the freezer so I know how recent or ancient it might be.

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    1. I used to k=not do that, and lost food to freezer burn.

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  12. What a great find! I love mushrooms and those sound really good.

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  13. I don't care to eat mushrooms, but since you enjoy them what a fantastic find! Even just seeing their pretty color and flowery look makes finding them worthwhile.

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    1. They do have ornamental value, that's for sure.

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  14. Fantastic! I love mushrooms! I've known a lot of people who, like you, do not like their texture. I just like the way they taste like butter and garlic or whatever you cook them in! Kind of like escargot, come to think of it. ;) Congrats on your little gold mine. What a marvelous discovery.

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    1. I do love raw mushrooms, though. So earthy.

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  15. Classic case of synchronicity. Congratulations.

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