Matsutakes on the dehydrator

Yesterday we went to the Nakusp Hot Springs, and I had Chuck drop me off in town to run the trail out to the springs. It ended up being about 11 km because the access road was closed due to logging and I had to do that part on foot. It ended up taking me longer still because about halfway along I got distracted by pine mushro

Lobster mushrooms, ready to sauté

oms. They’re everywhere this year, and even this well-worn trail was not entirely picked over. I brought back as many as would fit in my running cap, including a couple of really beautiful number-ones (large, fresh, heavy, and with the gills still entirely covered).

And then today Fiona and I attended a “Know Your Mushrooms” workshop. It was led by a pair of mycologists from the area and was very helpful. I’ve been pretty good with shaggy manes and pines/matsutakes, but hazy on the rest so I was keen to learn more. The day started out with a slide show and a lot of information about anatomy, ecology and (most importantly) edibility. They also had tons of samples on hand: much better than just looking in a book, because we could touch and smell them and turn them over and hold them up to the light and bruise them. And then we went a-picking, followed by a huge professional ID session, then a frying up and sampling party.

Fresh pine (matsutake) and puffball mushrooms, with dried apple rings and onion-fig preserve in the background.

Without the presence of a professional mycologist I’m still sticking to the safest and easiest to identify half-dozen species, but I’m now confident with Pine, Lobster, Puffball, Shaggy Mane, Chanterelle and Gypsy mushrooms. Maybe not so much with the Gypsies — they have some nasty look-alikes, but I did pretty well identifying a couple of specimens today and I was sure at the time.

Right now the whole house smells like pine mushrooms as today’s collection dries on the dehydrator. I’m pretty sure I could pull in a five year supply in the space of a good afternoon’s hunting: it’s that kind of a year for mushrooms. Fiona and I had a lovely time in the dappled sunshine of a mossy forest hunting today. Hard to believe we were Sufferfesting last weekend in the cold and sleet!


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