The end of the morel season has passed and we are again in the season of fungal famine. For some unknown reason the time period after morels and just before chanterelles is for the mycophogists among us fungally fruitless. Of course there are numerous woody polypores and the very occasional giant Stropharia (thankfully), but for the most part (without planning) the faithful fungiphiles are foiled.
Our edible plants foray provided some distraction for our wild food fanatics. Greens for the salad and herbs for the pot are quite abundant and widely spread. Those with only a little knowledge can usually gather a meal. Planting a garden helps to appease the forager in me, but I NEED MY FUNGI FOOD!!!
It is this time of year that a little planning ahead can get you through to the summer season. Do a little online research into mushroom cultivation. Oysters (Pleurotus) are easy and can even be cultivated on straw. The aforementioned May-fruiting Stropharia can be successfully cultivated in your yard. The oak logs that I inoculated 15 months ago are now covered with beautiful, big, brown shiitake caps.
So, what if you don’t have room to grow your own? Learn to preserve especially when your favorites fruit in abundance. I grew up in a time when “we would eat all we can and can all we can’t”. We either grew or foraged for a significant portion of our diet. Anything that couldn’t be consumed fresh was preserved for later use by drying, pressure canning, freezing, pickling, brining, candying (jelly, jam or fruit butter), and smoking. Just use your imagination, dry morels, can chanterelles, pickle meadow mushrooms, smoke and dry L. volemus, freeze oyster duxelles.
Just think how special one of those “planned ahead” treats would be right now!
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom Club