Mushrooming – A Different Kind of Hunt

Mushrooming—A Different Kind of Hunt

 

I remember very well the first time I ever ate a wild mushroom. I was in my early 20’s, newly married, and was spending quite a bit of time helping out my husband’s parents, who were outfitters in the backcountry of Idaho.  One spring afternoon my mother-in-law excitedly announced to the camp that she had found a bounty of morel mushrooms growing near camp and would be serving them with dinner that night. Everyone else seemed as excited as she was, as if she had reported that she would be serving filet mignon and lobster with cherry cheesecake for dessert. I, however, did not share their enthusiasm. I was not a particular fan of mushrooms and the thought of wild mushrooms kind of scared me. I had heard too many stories of people eating wild mushrooms and getting sick, or worse.  All I could envision was taking a bite and keeling over dead!  But as the excitement built and everyone kept telling me that there were few things better than fresh picked morel mushrooms, I decided to take the chance. My first bite of the delicate morsels that had been sautéed in butter, garlic, salt and pepper proved that everyone was right, although for the first hour or so I kept waiting for the stomach pains or hallucinations to hit me. When those didn’t come, I decided that yes, morels were indeed a tasty delicacy and I became a fan.

 

Since that fateful day I have taken every advantage of opportunities to hunt for these tasty fungi. Here in the Northwest there are many varieties of mushrooms that are harvested primarily in Spring and Fall, depending on the variety. The most popular and highly sought after are morels. These honeycomb-like fungi hide among debris under trees, often matching the surrounding material and making them difficult to see. Searching for them reminds me of an Easter egg hunt.

 

Just like fishermen and their favorite fishing holes, or hunters and their favorite treestand locations, mushroomers jealously guard their hotspots.  Don’t even think about asking a fellow mushroomer where to go look for them!  You will have to find your own secret hotspots, but that’s part of the fun too, and a good excuse to get out in the woods at a time of year when everyone else is back home doing yard work and waiting for hunting season.  Personally, I like to combine mushrooming with my other favorite springtime hobby, shed antler hunting.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been walking slowly along, intently searching the ground for mushrooms, and practically stepped on a nice antler!

 

Luckily, the popular morels are quite unique looking and difficult to mistake for other, less edible types of mushrooms, so even casual mushroom hunters can pick them with confidence.  However, there are many other species of mushrooms that are equally plentiful and delicious.  Every mushroom picker should invest in one of the number of mushroom picking guidebooks to help them identify which are safe to pick and eat and which should be avoided.

 

One of my favorite ways to prepare mushrooms is to simply slice them up and sauté them in lots of butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sometimes I throw in a dash of lemon juice for a little tang. Saute on medium high heat until tender and enjoy. Delicious served with a nice tender venison steak.

If you are looking for something to do outdoors during the “off season” and are looking for a new kind of challenge, try your hand at mushrooming. It’s a different kind of “hunt” and the results are delicious!


Jul 10, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: none

 

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