Tuesday, September 7, 2010

this is why they have been calling me squirrel

Misty checking out my basket of meadow mushrooms

When I was a teenager, there was a farm family, a very large family. Jim and Ethel had seven children-ok my family is no better there is eight of us. I use to go there just about every weekend during the school year and spent most of summer there. I loved being on the farm, and they were relatively normal. My teenage years sucked-my dad was drunk, and mother played way to much bingo. I think she was only home one night a week
Anyways side tracking here------

Jim and Ethel taught their children to pick wild plants and fungi.(In this household they are known as fun guys....yes poor humour) The Robinsons would pick puff balls and mushrooms. Although the only 'safe' edible fungi that I could remember was the puff ball, and I wasn't a 100% sure of the mushroom.

 In my early twenties I had a older Ukrainian woman for a neighbour, who picked mushrooms. I went with her once to pick mushrooms in the bush on her property. I have to admit that again I experienced a  case of 'iforgotagaintitis'. Enter into my life, my husband. Frank only picked the mushroom called "Bolete" They are an orange top type mushroom.  They remind me of a penis when they are young.

Late evening mushroom picking

For years we would scour the edge of the fields along the bush line, and even walking into the bush looking for those tiny little delicacies. Frank would never eat a puff ball for the stories that he heard of when he was younger about them causing blindness. Personally, I think it is because his father never ate them.

But I was always racking my brain trying to recall those other mushrooms that I picked as a teenager and as a young woman.

One fall, Frank's dad, asked us to come pick mushrooms out in one of his pastures. And hold and behold, there they were!! The elusive white mushroom. Which I just found out are called Meadow Mushroom. But see here is the thing. Years slowly go by and my mind elapses with that foreign brain disease that I get-iforgotagaintitis. 

Meadow mushroom
This summer, for whatever reason-the growing conditions have been exceptionally great for these little beauties. Our pastures have such of an abundance, my little fingers were just inching to pick some. I found a few in the yard and fried them up supper. They were yummy! Well, this just egged me on more to find more.

Frank tells me that our one pasture just south of the house, which we affectionally call the culvert field, was full of them. Getting into this pasture didn't require for any gates to be opened. But I did have to be out there with my girls. Hence this why Misty was checking out my basket of goodies.(first pic).

Basket-full of 'shrooms

Sunday evening, Frank and I picked a basket full. We only covered about 1/8 of the field if that. We went out about 8 pm. When we came back to the house it was well after 9 pm. I cleaned the larvae infested mushrooms from the good ones. You are not suppose to wash mushrooms, because they 'soak' up more water, but I did anyways. I laid them out on a t-towel, with gill side down, covered them with another t-towel,  and left them to kind of dry over night. The next morning, I sliced them any where between 1/8- 1/4 inches set them on the trays for my dehydrator. There is a lot of information on the net about drying mushrooms. But I chose to use my dehydrator for simplicity reasons.

To reconstitute, just add boiling water for about 15 minutes. These tasty morsels will make nice additions to any soup or gravies. 

I must stress very strongly, before you go into the 'wild' to look for the good stuff-make sure of a few things first. If you never have gone mushroom picking before, find someone who has. Educate yourself. A good rule of thumb is if you aren't sure, don't pick it or eat it!! Also, make sure the area where you are going is free of herbicides, and pesticides. Please get permission from the landowner. As a landowner myself, it really pisses me off when people trespass. A good book that I would recommend as a guide only-you still need someone who is knowledgeable about the wild edibles- Common Mushrooms of the Northwest by J. Duane Sept.

Meadow mushrooms look like the mushrooms you purchase at your grocery store.
The mushroom on the right is an older meadow mushroom. The gills of the mushroom should be a bright pink. I know I am a shitty picture taker. Check the mushrooms for larvae. Trust me, if you eat a shroom full of worms, you will get sick. Madeline ate some that she picked out of the garden when she was about 2 years old. She threw up for  hours. Man was I scared! The stories I could tell about the shit my kids have done.

Joe came with me on Monday morning to pick more mushrooms
It is so much fun to go to the  'wild' and pick the edibles. If you can't find a two legged friend for company, take a four legged critter instead!
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