On a recent afternoon I wandered through the forest and went a little bit crazy. I started picking mushrooms, and by the time I stopped, I had more than I necessarily wanted to deal with at one time.
My problem stemmed (if you will) from my desire to find king boletes. We’ve harvested a few early boletes from one specific section of our trail above the cabin, enough to whet our appetite. They’re just barely in season; we likely won’t see many of them before about the middle of August.
As I searched the forest floor, I picked other mushrooms, chanterelles and some early but healthy-sized hedgehogs. Then I entered a swale to the south of us where we get a lot of mushrooms, and found false matsutakes.
I’ve mentioned this giant mushroom before (see Measuring Hunting Success in Mushrooms). They’re very firm fleshed, but offer a lot of good tasting mushroom all at once.
I should have stopped there, but I dipped down into a favorite chanterelle patch, and couldn’t resist picking some of the largest ones I found. I think because I still had the goal of finding boletes, I allowed myself to view my task as unfinished.
I came to my senses when my mushroom bag filled to capacity. I headed home, wondering what I would do with all the fungi I’d found. I knew I should clean and slice them for drying, but I didn’t feel ready to dodge drying racks in the cabin or on the grounds. I couldn’t cook them all at once for eating. I faced an embarrassment of riches, an overambitious harvest without the will to take responsibility for it.
I started by sautéeing some of the chanterelles for dinner that evening. The next day I tackled one of the false matsutakes.
I sliced one thinly and pan fried the slices with the Lebanese spice blend, Zatar. Delicious! We have several of these mushrooms to experiment with, and because they decay very slowly, we can take our time about it.
I cleaned the mushrooms over a couple of days, and I’m working on drying those that don’t get eaten immediately. I will manage to use all of the mushrooms before they go bad.
I’m often faced with the delimma of enjoying the hunt, but not the responsibility of processing the catch or find. It requires discipline and forethought. I can’t resist mushroom hunting, but I hopefully will remember this lesson in overindulging.