This has been an odd year for mushrooms in our area. Our favorite mushroom, boletus edilus, has gone AWOL.
Normally, we start to see this mushroom in August, sometimes late July (see Mushrooms!). We then harvest through at least the first part of October, sometimes later. Quick to grow and quicker to be attacked and destroyed by flies, we see the wreckage of massive specimens all through the forest.
But not this year.
We counted a total of five sightings of king boletes up until a couple days ago. We harvested two, the other three were too moldy or fly-blown. Five. That’s all. We didn’t see evidence that others had been picked anywhere.
Just before Aly left for school, we wanted a particular type of mushroom for a lunch dish. We went to the part of the forest where we’re most likely to find that variety, and harvested as many as we needed for our recipe.
I have to pause here, and relish what I just said: The mushroom we sought is one that we just learned to prepare and eat this year, thanks for a visiting friend of the people who own the next property over. We’d been familiar with this mushroom, but hadn’t learned the particulars of positive identification until now. Even so, when we wanted it, we knew exactly where to go to find it!
On our way, we saw that several lesser boletes, including birch and admirable, had sprouted all over the area. We use these varieties as indicators that king boletes will soon become available. We had seen both of these varieties earlier in the season; I realized a second, late bloom may be on its way.
Unfortunately, Aly left the next day. She has recently acquired a taste for mushrooms, and enjoyed the wealth of chanterelles we found during her recent visit. However, chanterelles are her most commonly-harvested mushroom on her college campus (see A Pumpkin Full of Chanterelles). I’d hoped she could harvest and eat more of the other varieties she likes while she was home. I wondered if the boletes would start popping up the day after she left!
But, no. Almost two weeks passed before I found a trio of prime boletes in a cluster near our Power Point, mere steps from the cabin. I was thrilled to find them, even though Aly had left, and Michelle was in Anchorage for a business meeting.
They were nearly perfect! Large, firm fleshed, and untouched by insects, I should have sliced them thin and dried them. However, I lost my head, dry sautéed them, and had them for dinner. Delicious!
Hopefully, we’ll see more soon, and I can make up for my lapse.