Last week mushrooms began to appear on the forest floor. On Thursday afternoon, Michelle and I went for a walk in the woods to see if we could find any of our favorite mushrooms.
The day before, I met a new neighbor, who carried a handful of chanterelle buttons. I hoped we might find a few for ourselves, but also hoped to see the first boletes.
We’d hardly got started on our walk when Michelle turned off our track and hurried along one of our secondary trails.
“Come look at this!” she called.
She stood over the largest birch bolete I’ve ever seen.
Most of the birch boletes we find are medium sized mushrooms. Normally, even a king bolete of the size Michelle found would almost certainly be too old and maggot-infested to eat. This mushroom had sprouted in a hurry; it had no bugs, and its stem was as firm as a fresh turnip.
Birch boletes aren’t as good as king boletes (boletus edilus) and they bruise dark purple when you slice them, so they’re not quite as appetizing. However, for our first mushroom of the season, it was perfect!
We made pizza for dinner that night. I dry sautéed the mushroom and set aside the firmer pieces for topping the pizza. We ate the rest plain, so as not to miss any of the flavor.
From now until November, I’ll carry my mushroom knife always, and take a net bag with me when I travel through the forest (see Mushroom Hunting: Tools of the “Trade”). It promises to be an excellent season!