Black Trumpet Mushroom

Black Trumpet Mushroom

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Last Mushroom

You may wonder why after all the wonderful mushrooms we've had in 2011 I'm including a photo of this sad specimen. The answer is that I found this one in my side yard last week on December 18th. I was quite surprised to see any living mushrooms this late. So if the first mushroom of the year is celebrated, the last one should be too.

Ahhh, what a year it was...I am new to this but the more experienced mushroomers out there have declared 2011 an exceptional year in the Northeastern US. Here in Ithaca we were having a pretty good summer of foraging and then we got hit with 5" of rainfall from hurricane Earl on September 8th and it got crazy after that. I can remember rushing home from work many times so I could quickly change and get out foraging in the woods behind my house. Each time it was only the lack of light that prevented me from continuing, I would have gone all night if I could. Finally, when dusk was well advanced, I would stumble home through the forest in the dark with my bag full of black trumpets and other finds.

And so my dear reader (me) that ends this seasons blog entries. I have a few mushrooming stories that I didn't get to blogging about this year - including the photos I took of the most bizarre fungus I've ever seen in my life - but I think I'll post those next year as we ramp up for morel madness in May and the start of the 2012 season.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Smooth Chanterelle

I finally found some smooth chanterelles! So called 'smooth' because they don't have the same defined attached gills on the underside, although they're not exactly smooth either. Notice also that the smooth chanterelle has a larger thin, wavy cap. Some of the ones I found were quite large, 6-7" across.

Last week a co-worker described finding a large mushroom "12-14cm" that she thought was a chanterelle. I was skeptical until she brought in a beautiful smooth chanterelle, one of many she found. My skepticism turned to envy. But while my back woods yielded bags and bags of lovely black trumpets I hadn't had much luck with chanterelles...Until today. It wasn't a huge haul but it was enough for a few meals and it got me off the snide.

I found mine in an open grassy area by the way. They seemed to like that better then the dense woods.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When good maitakes go bad...

I knew I was pushing it but I had a lot of other mushrooms to clean and process and...well, to make a long story short, I blew it. I waited a couple days too long on some maitakes I knew about and now these lovely mushrooms are past saving and will return to the fungus from whence they came.

This years abundance has created challenges...My preserving and cooking skills are being put to the test. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a rare, wonderful, rainy, mushrooming event and that I should gather my rosebuds (or black trumpets and maitakes as the case may be) while I may.

Note that these were already bad on Sept 28th. In 2010 I found a fresh Hen of the Woods on Oct. 26th. We had a very early Maitake season this year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A quick foraging how to...

So ya wanna hunt mushrooms eh? Great. Here's a short guide to get you started.

Where? Ok, I'm going to break this down in the simplest way possible...
Oak = Good.
Most Maple = Not good..
Conifer's only = Not good for most mushrooms.

A hardwood forest with a lot of oaks is a mushroomers delight.

When? June through October are the best months here in upstate New York. Wait for a good rain and head out. Yes yes, I know that morels are found in late April and May but my experience hunting morels is a lot of looking and not much finding.

What? Here's a list of good 'starter' mushrooms, ie. those that are easy to id and tasty: morels, chanterelles, maitake or hen of the woods, chicken of the wood, black trumpets, lions mane or bearded tooth, shaggy mane, and giant puffballs.

How? I often spend as much time looking up as I do looking down. Why? Because I'm trying to locate oaks so I look up in the trees for their distinctive leaves. Someday I'll be enough of a woodsmen to identify oak by their trunks but right now...not so much. Once I spot the oak I go to it and scan the ground around it. btw...This is an excellent way to get lost in the woods as one oak leads to another and another until pretty soon you've lost all sense of direction and have no idea where you are. I've used the compass app on my iphone more then once to find my way back.

When you do find an edible and decide to collect it don't pull it, you don't want to disturb the roots (mycelium) if you can help it. Use a knife and cut it at its base. I've been using scissors on black trumpets and a few others and it works great.

Why? Well basically I feel like mushrooming is either in your blood or not. But look at it this way: The worst thing that can happen is that you'll have a lovely walk in the woods.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good times...

I was out in the woods after work yesterday and came home with 4 different kinds of edibles. They are from top left clockwise: maitakes (2 of them), boletes, hedgehogs (1/2 lb), and of course the venerable black trumpet mushrooms (3/4 lb). Quite a haul eh? These are great times for foraging.

I will confess that I already knew about the large maitake in the middle left, but everything else was unexpected. The hedgehogs in particular were a nice find, I've never found more then one or two of them at a time so its nice to get enough to make a meal out of.

Note the different colors of the 2 maitakes. The top one had an unusual dusty light color, but it was still nice and fresh. The larger one has a more common darker, brownish coloration.

Ahhh but with great harvests comes great responsibility. And now if you'll excuse me I have to go clean then dry some trumpets and start cleaning and vacuum packing those beautiful maitakes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Black Trumpets Mushrooms = Heaven

Ahh black trumpet mushrooms...This particular mushroom reached a nearly mythic status for Mike and I. For one year we found a total of zero black trumpets. Frankly we were starting to question the very existence of the skinkin' things. Then one day about a month ago we stumbled upon a glorious patch of about 3 lbs of them and I've been finding them ever since. And let me tell you they are fantastic. Their delicate nature belies their rich and complex flavor. The 'big three' of the tastiest mushrooms are, in my novice opinion; morels, chanterelles, and black trumpets. If you offered me a choice between a pound of morels or a pound of black trumpets...Well, I'd really have to think about that.

BUT...But they aren't easy to spot. So here's some tips...Looks for oaks then look on the downhill side of them or a flat area near them. There's a theory I read that they grow best in 'washes' where the soil is moist. I've found many of them on old logging roads and even on hillsides so I guess it depends on the rainfall.

When hunting for black trumpets the going is slow because you don't know if they're there until you are right on top of them. So its step, step, look, step, look, repeat.


Hello all,

Welcome to The Novice Mushroomer. If you're looking for expert mushroom info and advice you should probably keep looking. This is a site about discovering and learning about this cool hobby.

I just started mushrooming last August 2010 - oh all the wasted years I could have been foraging! Why didn't I think of it sooner?! Oh well...I've learned a lot in a year, but I'm sure I have a lot more to learn.

Here's a link to an excellent mushrooming website with more detailed and experienced info.

The Obligatory Disclaimer
Some mushrooms are poisonous, blah blah blah...Hey listen, just go ahead and take whatever you find in the forest and pop it in your mouth if you want to. The gene pool will soon be rid of your DNA and that's probably a good thing if you're that dumb. But seriously folks here the skinny...Most mushrooms are inedible (read; tastes bad, not digestible). There are some that are poisonous. Of these there are a small number that can kill you. Start with the ones that are easy and work from there, that's what I did. One rule of thumb is that you shouldn't eat a mushroom with gills unless you know what you're doing. White mushrooms with gills are especially dangerous. Got it? Good.