Week of Sept 10, 2013 - part 2 - mushrooms- cauliflower, black chanterelles and hedgehogs

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:10 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Here are some photos of some amazing mushrooms that I found this week in the forest.

Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis radicata)
I could hardly believe my eyes when I came upon this lovely mushroom. I have never before seen it in the flesh, only in photos. Despite my warning about photos being an unreliable way to identify plants and mushrooms, there is no way to mistake the cauliflower mushroom for anything else. Nonetheless, I checked in three books before cooking it slowly (for about two hours at low heat) in butter and eating it. The texture stayed crunchy, but the taste was quite nice. It was not, as one book claimed “one of the best of the edible species,” I vastly prefer the complex taste of black chanterelles.

Black Chanterelle
(Cantharellus cornucopioides)
These mushrooms are small, but like wild strawberries, their taste is huge. All chanterelles are funnel shaped and all of them are edible and tasty, no matter what color they are: white, orange, yellow, tan, or black. Chanterelles are distinguished by their lack of gills and their lack of pores. Instead they have wrinkle-like folds. I gently pulled one from the moss and turned up so you could get a good look at those folds. Again, there is no look-alike spoiler to confuse us. If it looks like a black chanterelle, it is a black chanterelle. I cook them briefly on a low heat in butter, then spread them on toast. The taste is deep and dark and rich with nuance.

Spreading Hedgehog (Hydnum repandum)
Coral Hedgehog (Hericium coralloides)

I have only seen hedgehog mushrooms twice in the half century I have been foraging, not counting the three I saw this week! That more than doubles my lifetime count. The spreading hedgehog provides a handy resting spot for this red eft. The coral hedgehog reminds me that icicles will be decorating my eaves in a few months. One of my guidebooks says: “Hedgehog mushroom are one of the most beautiful sights in the woodland. They are edible, if that is your consideration.” I agree. I have never eaten a hedgehog mushroom. Perhaps the next time I find one . . .

Spreading Hedgehog                                         Coral Hedgehog

Wild Foods as Medicine

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