Guy Food

Guy Food

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mushrooms ~ Edible Fungus

Mushroom collecting is one of the most widespread activities in the world. People have been collecting and eating mushrooms since before the culinary arts began.
Of the many different kinds of mushrooms, almost all are “edible” but too fibrous or insignificant to consume. That still leaves a considerable portion of mushrooms as consumable and either "fair, good, or choice." While the numbers vary and are debatable, only about 250 are considered significantly poisonous.

While those numbers put the odds of picking an edible rather than a non-edible mushroom heavily in the favor of foragers, experienced mushroom growers are quick to point out that foraging for mushrooms should never be thought of as a game of chance. “Don’t guess,” advises Tradd Cotter, who has been cultivating mushrooms for more than 20 years.
I enjoy mushrooming in both the spring and fall. There are even types that come out in the summer. Right now, I am getting excited about morel fests that pop up in the Midwest from late April til May.  
Morels are considered a gourmet’s delight and one of America’s most popular and highly regarded mushrooms. They range in color from cream to almost black, and their honeycomb pattern makes them easy to spot.
Where they grow: Morels grow in almost every state. Exceptions are Florida, which is too hot, and Arizona, which is too arid.
When to forage: Early spring before the trees leaf out. That’s February on the Pacific coast, March to mid-April in the South, and May in the Northeast. Peak season is April-May.
A tip from Cotter: Carry a cooking thermometer to measure the ground temperature. Morels fruit only when the ground temperature is 50 to 58 degrees.
Habitat: Morels associate with moist areas and specific tree types: Ash, tulip, oak, hickory, sycamore, cottonwood, maple, beech, conifers and apples. Cotter urges caution if foraging in apple orchards, because morels are excellent at absorbing pesticide residue, which can remain in the soil for long periods.
Culinary use: Morels have a unique smoky, earthy, nutty flavor that is prized by cooks worldwide. The darker the color, the stronger the flavor. A popular way to cook them is to simply saute then in butter with salt and cracked pepper. Wash thoroughly, but be aware that because of their honeycomb structure, they may retain some bits of soil that can’t be washed out.
If you are not so adventurous, then just go the local market and buy some tried and true Champion.

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