A Grocery Store in the Woods
Mushrooms are one of nature’s greatest and least understood gifts! Therefore, a lot of people tend to overlook wild mushrooms as just another fungus or weed. Even mushroom lovers view wild mushrooms with a level of skepticism different from what they see or buy in the supermarket. Luckily, with our increased knowledge and education, a little training and guidance on how to identify and harvest wild mushrooms, you can begin to harness the wonderful bounty of these amazing specimens! Our backyard can become your own personal produce aisle for delicious and seasonal mushrooms!
It is true that some mushrooms can be poisonous, just as some fruits or berries can also be toxic. Never eat a mushroom if you aren’t able to completely discern or know what type it is. Until you become a more experienced mushroom scavenger or have a mycologist guiding you, it’s best to double-check all your findings before eating them. Don’t worry — this won’t limit your haul! The tastiest mushrooms are actually the ones that look a little less like our preconceived notions of mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms grow out of the ground in damp, sunny, relatively cool places. They are easy to identify because of their tear-drop shaped, beehive caps. The deep, nutty flavor of morel mushrooms makes them one of the most prized edibles out there. Every spring, mushroom hunters eagerly await the delicious bounties of morel mushrooms.
Chanterelle mushrooms also grow out of the ground and are also easy to spot because of their golden, wavy caps. These mushrooms are fleshy and mild tasting and are great in just about anything — they even make great meat substitutes. These mushrooms are often found on the menu at elegant restaurants, making them a top choice for mushroom foragers.
Chicken of Woods, so named because of how abundant and tasty they are, grow likes orange shelves out of the sides of trees from late summer through early fall. The mild, delicious flavor of this mushroom is often compared to chicken, hence the name!
Reishi or Ganoderma mushrooms, are also found in North America! Often found on trees or decaying logs, reishi is known for its distinct color and wooden texture. You can often find them in shady areas where many different varieties of Ganoderma species are known to grow.
Wood Ear mushrooms also grow on trees but don’t immediately come off as something that would be tasty or edible. They look like brown jelly, but if you have the time and patience to dry these mushrooms, they are great additions to teas and broths.
Hen of the Woods mushrooms grow in the ground in the fall, and look like a tumbleweed of mushrooms, or a sitting hen. These mushrooms are bountiful and make a great stir-fry or mushroom taco.
Have a great hike, use education and awareness to enjoy your bountiful harvest!