Winter Mushrooms

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Keep a look out for interesting mushrooms year round.  The cold of winter and hot dry summers don’t usually scream mushrooms but whispers of them do exist for the observant. 

A Pep Talk for Beginners

by Brady Raymond

February at first thought doesn’t usually bring to mind mushrooms here in the PNW, but it is a great time to start honing your skills for the months to come and the bounty that is sure to follow (hopefully).  The winter months do yield some mushrooms to find and although usually more scarce this time of year, it can be less distracting for someone trying to learn mushrooms.  During prime season it is tempting to trek one more bend on the trail, or cross the next ridge in hopes of finding that forty pound Sprassis or basketful of Boletes but if you’re new to mushrooming why not get a head start on learning the basics about mushrooms now.

One of the first things a newcomer should do is obtain a reputable book on the subject.  If you are unfamiliar where to start PSMS sells books at our monthly meetings and at our annual spring and fall shows.  It is recommended to get a book that encompasses your area and I would recommend having a couple books if funds allow.  Here is a link to a previous post I wrote talking about books a little more; Where to Start, Tips and Tools for Learning Mushrooms.

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2016-wild-mushroom-show

Our 2016 Annual Fall Wild Mushroom Exhibit will be on October 29th and 30th. For the second year the show will be held in the cafeteria at Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle, Bellevue, WA 98007. This location is a large venue for our event, abundant free parking, and all of the exhibit is under one roof on one level! Bellevue College is close to and is easily accessible from I-90 and does not require a toll going over the I-90 Bridge from Seattle. It is also well serviced by Metro for people who prefer to ride the bus.

The exhibit will be open to the public on:

Saturday, Oct 29th: Noon – 7PM
Sunday, Oct 30th: 10AM – 5PM.

Admission fees for this event are:
Adults: $10
Full time students (with IDs): $5
Children 12 and under: free.
Tickets will be pre-sold online on our website at http://www.psms.org starting Oct 1st.

Car Prep for Mountain Excursions

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This road in the Entiat Mountains is out there.  We didn’t see many other people on this road.

by Brady Raymond

Heading out to the woods to look for some delicious mushrooms?  Bought yourself a sweet new ride five years ago, what could go wrong?  A dead battery at 5000ft. with no cell reception, night setting in and lows in the 30’s.  You don’t have blanket, you ate all your food and there is only one bottle of water left. You feel responsible for the two friends you took out hunting, neither of which has much if any experience in the woods.  They couldn’t tell you the difference between a Phaeolus schweinitzii and a Russula xerampelina let alone any of the cardinal directions.  You secretly hope their lack of skill in the backwoods is an advantage for you if things come down to cannibalism.

Truth is, you’ll only be out here one uncomfortable night. Your at a a popular trail head and more than likely you can get a jump sometime tomorrow morning, at least you have jumper cables.

It seems obvious to pack for unintended circumstances but I’ve been mushrooming with folks who don’t even bring knives and once someone forgot water.  Below is a list of things you should probably have in your car just in case.

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Urban Fungi

 

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It’s hard to miss the showy bright red fruitings of Amanita muscaria, many other species are demure in comparison, yet are interesting and beautiful in their own right.

by Brady Raymond

In the hustle and bustle of urban living an often unnoticed world exits on the ground amongst the duff and high on branch and tree.  As other forms of life are winding down for the season many species of fungi begin to stir.  Dormant through the hot dry months of summer, the fall rains bring forth a variety of mushrooms in many forms, shapes and colors.  It is easy for the new mushroom hunter to get discouraged when hearing fantastic tails of bucket loads of edibles found on faraway mountain slopes, especially if they lack the means to get to these mushroom wonderlands.  Yet opportunity abounds in our urban environment for someone who wants to hone their skill in photography, identification and just simply finding these things.

In Seattle the obvious place to look would be any of the cities many parks, large or small there is plenty to be found.  Remember though, in the city of Seattle it is illegal to pick mushrooms or otherwise remove them from the parks; this goes for plants, rocks and pretty much anything.  I wonder though, how hard they would come down on you with shoes full of sand from a day at Golden Gardens tromping around on the beach, or a twig caught in your hair from a hike through the trails.  Aside from city parks there are lots of places to look for mushrooms like people’s yards (with permission of course), plantings in parking lots and pretty much anywhere else you could think of that may harbor a fungal find.  There are many micro-environments in the city to explore, and many different species in those environment to be found.  Keep your eyes peeled, a great photo could literally be just around the corner.

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So You Want to Hunt Mushrooms

 

by Brady Raymond

Gearing up is all part of the fun right?  It’s also the smart thing to do if you have any common sense.  Aside from the random mushroom find, you usually have to put some thought and at least a little bit of physical effort into the endeavor.  You don’t want to get out to the woods and find the mother load only to realize you forgot a knife, and yes I have seen this happen to people, no knife.  “What are they thinking” I always wonder to myself, I carry a knife ninety percent of the time I do anything, and if it’s not on me it’s almost always within reach.  Well, maybe they didn’t have a handy article like this to read, hence I’m writing it.

Insider tip, carry a knife, always.  The next logical thing would be something to contain your quarry e.g. basket, or sack of some sort (no plastic bags).  You can clean up pretty good with these couple of items alone but for longer treks it is advisable to pack a bit more.  

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Where to Start, Tips and Tools for Learning Mushrooms

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Just as I suspected…

by Brady Raymond

Learning mushrooms can be a frustrating experience, unless of course you have a photographic memory and hours of free time to devote to studying texts and spending time in the field.  Remember, not even the experts always agree on the expert stuff and there will always be more to learn.  If your interests are beyond finding some basic edible species you will no doubt start on a lifelong  journey of trying to figure these gosh darned things out.  Good luck, so are a lot of other people.  Much progress has been made since humans started documenting the different types of fungi they have found but it almost seems like wasted time as every advancement in science always inevitably disregards the old in favor of the new.  Certainly, we pay homage to the work of those done before us but invariably with a snicker and a grin, “If only they knew what we know now.”  But, what we know now will one day be what was known and still not up to snuff as time rolls on, all the while mushrooms are changing and adapting to new environments, constantly staying a step or two ahead of any attempt we make in really figuring them out once and for all.

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Eat Morels, Some Ideas

by Erin & Brady Raymond

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Erin’s quick recipe,

Scrambled Eggs, Morels and Toast

Homemade whole wheat bread, toasted. Topped with scrambled eggs and fried morels.
Morel batter – egg, flour, a bit of garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

Brady says,

Mmm, and this is breakfast.  What a way to start the day.”  

 

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Erin’s quick recipe,

Morel Crostini

Homemade whole wheat bread, with olive oil toasted at 425.
For the morel cream topping:
Melt a fair amount of butter in a sauce pan. Add chopped garlic and shallot. Cook for a few minutes. Add chopped morels and sauté slowly for about 10 minutes. Add cream and continue to cook until the cream has thickened. Let cool for a few minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with chive flowers, if you have them.

Brady says,

 “You’ve got to be kidding me, morels for breakfast and now appetizer!  Mmm mmm mmm!”  

‘Tis The Season

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Erin’s first morel of the year.

by Brady Raymond

They’re Here! I’m happy to report, as some of you probably already know the 2016 Morel season is on. The wife and I headed out April 17th on Highway 2 with the hopes of finding morels. We knew we were taking a chance, heading over Stevens Pass and hanging around 2100ft. in elevation. The temperature seemed right, and we had loads of snow this winter, which means moisture levels had to be at least better than last year, our moral for morels was indeed high. Continue reading