Down East 2013 ©
The trees may be leafless and the temperature a bit chilly, but Maine mushrooms – at least some of them – haven’t gotten the message yet that winter is approaching.
There is still time to gather and preserve some of our tastiest mushrooms, including matsutake and maitake (Hen of the Woods).
Our Mount Vernon friend and mushroom expert, Barbara Skapa, called my wife Linda a short while ago and took her to a spot close to our home to identify and pick matsutake and maitake mushrooms.
Linda has used them in a number of tasty dishes already – including a fabulous mushroom soup. And we were delighted to find Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms in two of our dishes at Camden’s very fine high-end restaurant, Natalie’s, when we dined there on October 14. Yummy!
While I strongly recommend that you find a local expert to introduce you to mushroom foraging, you can learn a lot at David Spahr’s website .
Spahr lives in Washington, Maine and publishes very informative updates as the picking season progresses.
Greg Marley is another Maine mushroom expert who speaks at seminars all over the state. This past summer I read his book, Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Mushrooms, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot too.
Lin and I have been picking chanterelles for years, and we're comfortable in their identification. They are very tasty, especially when sautéed. But this year Barbara Skapa introduced us to black trumpets, another type of chanterelle, and we went crazy over them, picking about 15 pounds before the season ended. They are very meaty and flavorful. Lin dried a lot of them for use later.
Because Black Trumpets as well as Hen-of-the-Woods grow near or on oak trees, Lin suddenly was more impressed with my knowledge of the location of every mature oak in Mount Vernon.
That’s where I hunt deer! And that’s what I enjoy most about mushroom foraging – hunting for them. Eating them is just an additional benefit!