Dyeing to Cross the Rainbow Bridge

AA DyeTuesday, September 12th- 7:30PM

 Monthly Meeting

Doors open at 6:30 pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Come early and bring any mushrooms you want identified!

It has been nearly 50 years since the first publication on using wild mushrooms to produce dyes for textiles. What started as a curious discovery by a natural dyer caught like wildfire through the 1970’s but then smoldered for another 20 years… until the dawn of social media. Alissa Allen will take us on a journey through the past, present and future of mushroom dyeing. She is an avowed mushroom missionary, spreading enthusiasm for mycology by enticing unsuspecting fiber enthusiasts to the darkest corners of the forest, in quest for color. On this journey, curious adventurers can’t help but be enchanted by the colorful and charismatic fungi along the way, and become entangled in the web of mycology. You will see magical transformation of color born from seemingly mundane mushrooms and learn new ways to illuminate the hidden spectrum found in your own fungal wonderland. Whether you are a fiber artist, a forager or a citizen scientist, mushroom dyes can work for you.

Alissa Allen is an amateur mycologist and the founder of Mycopigments. She specializes in teaching about regional mushroom and lichen dye palettes to fiber artists and mushroom enthusiasts all over the country. Alissa got her start right here at PSMS in 1999 and has been sharing her passion for mushrooms for over 15 years. She has written articles for her website as well as Fungi Magazine and Fibershed. In 2015 she created the Mushroom and Lichen Dyers United discussion group and The Mushroom Dyers Trading Post. These groups have grown into a community of over 5000 members. Alissa uses brilliant colors found in mushroom dyes to entice people to take a closer look at mushrooms and their relationship within the ecosystem. To read more about her work, visit http://mycopigments.com.

“Lepiota exudate”

 

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The stems in the specimens at center and the caps in the specimens at left have changed color where the droplets were located before drying.

by Jeff Stallman

On a West Coast road trip in the summer of 2012, California was in the middle of one of its now-famous droughts. In dry Yosemite Valley, I joined a ranger-led walk to hear about the natural history of the area. Enjoying learning about unfamiliar trees and mammals, I was surprised when we happened along a large fruiting of chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sp.). Although the brown grass crinkled beneath our feet and many annual flowers were already deflated by the mid-summer heat, this fungus was fresh and covered with water droplets, nearly to the point where it was dripping on the ground.

This had always impressed me, and I occasionally shared the experience with others as one of those “aren’t fungi interesting and unexpected” stories, but did not think much of it again until years later when hunting in Hawaiʻi.

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Spring Kings

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Thanks to Sweta Agrawal for sharing some snapshots of her success this season finding the “Spring King.”  Persistence is key when trying to locate this mushroom.  It seems that you have to check your spots regularly and catch them just at the right moment if you want to have any real success.

Keeping things simple like the salad pictured above is a great way to enjoy the more subtle flavors of this enigmatic mushroom.  On the other hand, you can get quite decadent.  If you were lucky enough to find as plentiful of patches as Sweta you can try all sorts of recipes.

Having not found any Boletus rex-veris myself I can’t comment much on distinguishing features.  I have a feeling though, that if you have found Boletus edulis in the fall and saw one of these Ceps during spring growing in front of you, alarms would sound and the hunt would be on.  Names and seasons aside a Porcini is a Porcini.

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Some specimens grow quite large and will be enough for a few meals.  But remember,  the more you pick the more you’ll have to clean.  Always clean your mushrooms in the field as best possible.  Doing so makes kitchen chores much more enjoyable.  Also, make sure to check for bugs in the field by cutting your mushrooms in half.  Remove buggy areas immediately.  The bugs will continue eating the mushroom, even after being picked and wreak havoc after a long ride home from the mountains.

If you didn’t find any Spring Kings don’t fret yet.  The season is not over for Boletes and Boletus edulis the fall cousin of Boletus rex-veris will be fruiting later this year.  So read up and scout some locations while out hiking this summer.

sdr

 

Deep Fried Morels, a Dud?

Deep Fried Morels

by Brady Raymond

How could you go wrong deep frying Morels?  How could you go wrong stuffing them with jalapenos and cream cheese, coated with breadcrumbs?  Well, maybe it’s just too much.  Deep frying Morels is something I’ve wanted to try for a while now and with Erin’s help, we did our best.  They weren’t really bad and I did enjoy eating them, the only problem was that the flavor of the Morel was kind of lost.  How do you remedy flavor lost?  It’s not like you can just add bacon and boom you’ve got the perfect recipe.  And you can’t amplify the Morel flavor either, or can you?  While I do recommend frying most foods, this idea needs some tinkering before I can say it’s a delicious way to eat Morels.

We are out of fresh Morels for the season and it seems like that is necessary for at least the vessel of this recipe, however, we have been thinking of a Morel sauce to drizzle over top and a little less breadcrumb and well, maybe some bacon too.  I’ll let you know next year if it’s a keeper.  Email me if you’ve had success deep frying Morels.  psmsblog@gmail.com

Deep Fried Morels, cream cheese, jalapanos

Mushroom Hunting Safety

 

 

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You found some mushrooms but can you find your car?  A quick jaunt in the woods can quickly turn into an ominous trek through the wilderness if you don’t pay attention to where you are.

 

by Wren Hudgins

Wild mushroom foraging may not seem like a dangerous hobby, but there are real risks involved here, as there are in most outdoor activities.  Few people would argue that the freedom of not wearing a car seat belt outweighs the safety of wearing one, but people do make their own choices.  The point is that there is general recognition that certain preventive behaviors can minimize risk, although not eliminate it.  Mushroomers tend to walk off trail and through the woods, so there is always a risk of tripping and falling or otherwise injuring yourself far from your car or the nearest first aid kit.  However, by far the greatest danger is getting lost and spending much more time in the woods than you had planned.  The quality of that extra time in the woods will vary from life threatening to miserable to merely inconvenient, depending on how prepared you are.  A friend of mine is an officer for the Snohomish County Search and Rescue and he thinks that in 2016 there were three lost foragers in Snohomish and Pierce counties, all of which involved extended stays in the forest, in one case overnight, but all three were found.  None of the three were adequately prepared.  We don’t have numbers on this but there may have been other foragers who were lost but who were adequately skilled and prepared such that they never had to call search and rescue. (BTW, Search and Rescue teams do not charge for being called – at least in WA state)

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Memorial Day Weekend

 

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When you find a bunch of Morels in a small area make sure to mark it on your GPS.  Erin and I have some reliable patches that seem to produce each year.

 

by Brady Raymond

How do you thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country?  As folks barbecued with friends and family this past weekend or in my case mushroom hunted, I hope we all took a moment to reflect on the freedoms we have to do these things and the lives that were lost to protect those freedoms.  Since I can’t thank those who were lost in the line of duty I would like to thank those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past.  Thank you, your service does not go unnoticed by this author.

For the last five years, Erin and I have taken part in what may be the premier mushrooming foray in the Pacific Northwest, maybe even the country.  As we arrived at our destination, thoughts of the Morel season coming to a close were on our minds.  Things had been dry over the last week and as we all know “dry” is the enemy of fungi.  What would we find this weekend?  Would we find anything at all?

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Morels with Scallops and Asparagus

 

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Thyme flowers are a great addition if you have them in your herb garden

 

by Erin Raymond

I recently saw a post by Langdon Cook on Instagram of a meal with morels and scallops that looked amazing.  I had never had morels with scallops, but decided I needed to try it immediately.  Fortunately, a couple days after I decided this, Brady and I found a couple pounds of morels.  I looked at a number of different recipes online and combined them into the recipe below.  It was delicious!  Thanks for the inspiration Langdon!

Begin by roasting the asparagus in the oven with a bit of olive oil and cook wild rice pilaf.  Melt butter in a pan and sautee the morels and shallots until the mushrooms are cooked through.  Turn the heat up to medium and add the scallops, turning once.  Add some cream when flipping the scallops.  Once the scallops are done, serve over wild rice pilaf and top with fresh thyme and asparagus.

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It’s Happening

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Erin took this picture with her phone.  It’s incredible what phones can do these days, maybe some day genetic testing in the field will be possible.

by Brady Raymond

  • 5-19-17 – 5-20-17
  • 70 degrees, sunny
  • 1800-4200ft.

Things are heating up and Morels are popping.  Erin, our daughter, the dog and I headed out for an overnight mushrooming mini adventure and we were not disappointed.  Over the two days we spent looking, we gathered around 120 Morels totaling 2lbs almost exactly, not bad for naturals considering we had a small child and a dog who is more of a trail dog than a hunting companion.

On Friday we hit up a trail in one of our spots and within a minute or two I had already picked my first Morel.  It didn’t take long to find the next few either.  I hopped off the trail expecting to find Morels everywhere but to my surprise, I found zilch.  There were a few spots of snow in the shade but for the most part, it was gone.  I’m assuming the trail itself received more sunlight thus was a bit warmer than the surrounding woods.  We were at 4000ft. and up here it was still getting quite cold at night.

We continued down the trail happily picking Morels along its edges for a quarter mile or so.  As the trail gained in elevation the mushrooms were fewer and further apart.  After a hundred yards of finding nothing, we turned around.  We wondered how many we would spot on the way back and were greeted by a number of these shifty fungi we had somehow missed.  It doesn’t take much for a Morel to be obscured from sight, it only takes a leaf or branch to hide it from you.  Erin spotted a number of them that I had walked right by as she walked behind me, no doubt due in part to the discrepancy of height between the two of us.

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More Morels

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by Brady Raymond

  • 5-13-17
  • 50 degrees, partial sun to drizzle-light rain
  • 1800-3100ft.

I have a problem, I’m addicted to Morels.  Erin and I have put some serious miles down the last two weekends, driving up and down mountain passes and zig zagging our way through forest service roads.  The urge is unbearable, one that is only quelled slightly by the meager yields we have so far harvested.  Twenty-one Morels this weekend, that brings our total for the season of twenty-eight.

“Brady” I said to myself “it’s not a competition, relax, enjoy the hunt.”  But, it is a competition and I’m at twenty-eight.  Lots of people have found more than me, and they laugh at my season total.  These folks have accumulated more weight in spores than I have in the spore bearer.  There is a good chance though that the average person among me has found none and I relish in this fact.

Mushroom hunting isn’t really a competition but anyone who’s done it knows how guarded and secretive you get when questioned about the subject.  I imagine that this traces back to ancient times, to protect what is yours and when you poses so few things it would seem this behavior may be stronger especially when regarding something so tantamount to survival as a food source.

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