This has to be my favourite time of year. As summer changes into autumn we get a glut of fungi for our gastronomic edification. Foraging for wild mushrooms has to be one of my favourite past-times, when a walk becomes more than a walk, but an excuse to go and find all those tasty treats that mother nature has to offer.
This year has been very good for fungi. I’ve managed to find a good amount of some of my favourite mushrooms, such as Ceps – Penny Bun (Boletus edulis), Bay Bolete (Boletus badius), Chantarelle (Cantharellus cibarius), Hedgehog Fungus (Hydnum repandum), Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) and the Parasol (Macrolepiota procera). The pleasure in spotting any of these (especially the Cep and Chantarelle) when out foraging is something to behold.
When you get a glut of such beauties it is hard to eat them all with out spoiling – so the best thing is to find means of preservation. Generally when it comes to Chantarelles I never find enough to warrant preserving, so eat them as soon as possible, and as simply as possible. This could be frying them in butter and having on toast, or including them in an omlette. With a good haul of Ceps, drying is the best policy. The method I use is to put them on racks and place them somewhere that has a dry heat, to let them dry out slowly, once dried I place them into old jam jars and keep in a dark place. They then can be used at a later date. Another method we have used this year is to make a mushroom source and then freeze in ice-cube trays, once frozen placed into bags and stored in the freezer.
I am not going to cover the ins and outs of mushroom identification on this blog post, but would recommend looking at Rogers Philips Mushrooms. And always make sure you are certain that you know what you are eating, but there really is no need to be as fearful of the wild mushrooms as people in the UK seem to be, just make sure that you learn the really deadly poisonous ones and stay clear of them!
So go out and forage!