Wild mushrooms are a close second to garlic …

… on my list of palatal pleasures. Throughout our 17 years in Oregon, chanterelles were the go-to local fungus. They showed up at local produce stands or sometimes on our doorstep from forager friends who found a mother-load at their never-disclosed woodland cache. While we had no success foraging chanterelles, we would have eaten them if we found them, as they are among the most easily identifiable edible mushrooms. As the link tells us, get an expert opinion before you eat any mushroom. Have you ever tried to get a mushroom expert to give you that opinion?

Now that we have our own forest in which to forage,

…. I have tried and it is essentially impossible. During our first Fall in Wisconsin, the boys and I went out to saw some limbs off of a willow tree.  Near the location of our work, we found these huge mushrooms:

I was thrilled by the possibility of foraging on our own land; these beauties that looked just like a variety I had seen at a recent visit to the Madison farmers’ market. Clutching one of these one-pounders, I headed to the kitchen. “Not so fast, SAM” was my wise husband’s gentle admonishment. I showed it to my neighbors, who marveled at it and vaguely recollected some mushroom foraging by the former owner. No one had actually eaten them but knew someone who had. I took my woodland prize to the local University of Wisconsin extension office who said they cannot advise anyone to eat a wild mushroom. The forager at our small town Saturday farmers’ market said this variety is likely a giant puffball, one of the easiest to identify because it has no stem and no gills. Again, I could not a firm “your mushrooms are edible!”

From another trustworthy site, “If you think you’ve found one of these sizeable, delicious mushrooms, the first thing you need to do is cut it in half from top to bottom. The inside flesh should be thick, firm, spongey, and pure white through and through. Don’t eat anything that is beginning to turn off-white, or that has yellow, brown, black, purple, or any other discolorations or any evidence of the silhouette or contour of a gilled mushroom at the center.” Still …

I cannot find the courage to eat my home-grown wild mushrooms.

Don’t have a clue about this specimen, so I am not even tempted! There I am in the feature photo with what sure looks like two king bolete mushrooms, dying to slice and sauté, but I cannot be sure if they are what I think they are.

Another dear neighbor, whose spouse is an ER doctor, cringed when I talked about the giant puffball. A family of ten people showed up in his ER after the mom had completed a foraging class and took her skills to the woods by their weekend cabin… all ten of them got sick!

How best to enjoy the Fall woods…

… a nice walk down the path on a sunny day enjoying the scent of pine trees and turning leaves, eating neither pine trees nor leaves!

Photos by SAM Steiner 2013 and 2022




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