Shaggy Maine (Coprinus comatus) by Captain Quinn

The Shaggy Maine is just one of the many truly delicious treats one can find while roaming around in B.C.'s great outdoors.  Try frying with some butter onions and garlic. Identifying this mushroom can be fairly easy especially if you wait for it to turn into a puddle of ink, but by this point it is too late to consider for the dinner menu. As with all wild edibles we recommend buying yourself a field guide to mushrooms before attempting to tap into this wild source of nutrition.

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Identifying features

A whitish cap with off-white to brownish shaggy scales, cone shaped cap that turns into a black tar like substance as the mushroom ages.  The long stem is the only thing left standing as this mushroom melts into a puddle of ink with age.  If you are going to eat it, you must get at it before this occurs.

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-Cap is anywhere from 3-5cm wide and 4-15cm. tall.

-Gills are free and very crowded.

-Stalk is 6-20cm long and 1-2cm thick, white in color, bulbous in shape and hollow.

-This mushroom has a partial veil and when the cap begins to open it leaves a ring at the base of the stem.

-The spore print for this mushroom is black.

This mushroom tastes delicious and can be found scattered to clustered in grass, wood chips, and dense soil from May to June, September to October, and again from November to January in Southeastern regions of North America.  I have seen this mushroom exploding through pavement on the side of the road while strolling along to go fishing in the Haida Gwaii.

Some Shaggy Mane Recipes

Shaggy Mane Berbere

Shaggy Mane Casserole

Black Morel (Morchellaceae, Pezizales) by Captain Quinn

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My first morel hunt had me bent at the hip walking around like an ostrich trying to find a good hole to hide his head in.  I proceeded like this for hours until I finally had to take a break succumbing to a pretty bad headache from straining my senses too hard. "Where the heck are those little things?" I was convinced that I was either too early in the season or too late, not in the right spot or not looking in the right spots.  However, I was determined so I carried on anyways. Finally my eyes focused on this little black honeycomb like thing sticking out of the ground on the side of a bank.  My heart started to race and as my eyes adjusted to the contrast, I began to see more and more and more of these delicious mushrooms. It was like an Easter egg hunt and I was filling my sack, just as excited to find the next one.  I took a bunch of photos, incase I couldn't find anymore than at least I had documentation of where I found them before and would hopefully be able to use that to find them again in the future. Through my studies I read that mushrooms have to spread their spores in order for more mushroom to grow, so I left about every 5th one that I found.  That way I could come back next time and enjoy the same awesome excitement.  When, I figured I had enough, about 2 dozen, I returned to my trailer in Northern B.C. were I was living for the summer with 3 other great friends, forest fire fighting.  I fried up the mushrooms with a a dollop of butter and a little salt and pepper.  Once cooked, I drizzled them over a steak and shared the flavor with my awesome roommates.  They all loved it, and I can't wait to go picking morels again.

Look how well they blend in to their surroundings!

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Not well enough to elude the dinner menu though!

 Identifying Features

 A black-ribbed honeycomb like cap resting atop a whitish to off-whitish stalk.  The stem is is hollow and thick.  

-Cap is 2-4cm wide and 2-5cm tall.

-This mushroom does not have any gills, instead it has yellowish pits much like a honeycomb, it shoots it's spores out of these pits.

-Stalk is 5-10cm long and 2-4cm thick and hollow.

This mushrooms is very tasty and can be found in coniferous woods, especially spruce. Most of the ones I have found have been spotted amidst young poplar stands. They are also found in association with pines and can be abundant in recently burned areas.  Sandy soils seem to be favored by these elusive little shrooms. These mushrooms beat the rest of them out of the ground and appear from April to May and in Northern regions into June. The black morel is the first true morel to appear in the spring. It has been known to cause stomach upset especially if consumed with alcohol.

Some Black Morel Recipes

I find the Black Morel to be very rich in taste and excellent in sauces. However, there are many different equally as tasty ways you can choose to enjoy this tasty treat from the woods.

The following is a very long list of awesome recipes you can use to cook your harvest of morels:

The Great Morel-A Tribute to Shroomers

Puffballs (Lycoperdon, Perlatum) by Jade Bisson

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Hello Adventurers! So sorry for the long hiatus. But now that we are fully in mushroom season, we will have tonnes to talk about! Just a quick note on collecting mushrooms: please, please, PLEASE! make sure you have a reliable resource to reference your mushrooms before you PICK and/or eat them. A human is best. Google Images are also helpful. And a book, such as 'The New Savory Wild Mushroom' by Margaret Mckenny and Daniel E. Stuntz. 

Fungi are extremely magical and mysterious and can seriously bite you back, or worse. Remember: 'There are old mushroom pickers and there are bold mushroom pickers, but there are no old, bold mushroom pickers.' So, take heed of this warning, and respect these powerful organisms. 

On that note, I found some puffballs! Puffballs are delicious! Puffballs are cute! I didn't know you could eat these spongy little mushrooms. The kind I found are scientifically known as Lycoperdon perlatum. It is one of the most common type of puffball. The type you find on a lawn, or around rotted logs. The fruiting body is described as white, or sometimes a pale cream or a pale brownish color, pear-shaped and about 3-4 inches tall. The top will be scaly and/or spiny. The stem is fairly large and attached to the ground by rhizomorphs (roots, thicker than mycelium).  As the puffball develops, it will form a pore at the top of the fruiting body, then, a dry, papery shell taking on an olive or rust color. Definitely don't pick them at this stage. Only young puffballs of this type should be collected, otherwise they will taste bitter and you'll get a mouth full of spores. Wait til next season. This mushroom has also been called "the devil's snuff-box", I guess because if you sniff closely, you'll get a whiff of dusty spores!?! Not cool devil, not cool. 

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Anyway, care should be taken before eating these, as the young, deadly Amanita virosa looks similar to the puffball before it "blooms". So, when slicing these up, be sure that they are white all the way through, with no outline or grey-ness on the inner flesh. If so, toss 'em. How do they taste, you ask? Mmmmm, like tofu, but way better! I say tofu, because there are a bit foamy-er than other mushrooms I've eaten, but they are still pleasant. Fry them up in butter, and maybe some nori or tamari sauce. Japanese stylee! Enjoy, and happy hunting! 

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Chanterelles (Cantharellus Cibarius) by Jade Bisson

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Delicious! Beautiful! Chicken of the Forest! These are just some of the words to describe the group of mushrooms called Chanterelles. There are a couple different varieties to look out for. White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus), Yellow Foot (Cantharellus tubaeformis), Pig's Ears (Gomphus clavatus), Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus) (not edible), Black Trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides), and Blue Chanterelle (Polyozellus multiplex),  not to be confused with the late '90's RnB singer: Blu Cantrell

Now that could be a dangerous mistake!!!! Anyways! If you know the basic characteristics of the Chanterelle family you can usually identify them in the forest. To actually pick the different varieties, you should study them in detail with a trusty pocket mushroom book or an experienced picker.

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In this group, the caps are a pretty vase-shaped, trumpet-shaped and/or wavy. Underneath, the gills are soft and fork-shaped, well spaced, shallow and often with connecting veins in between. They can range in color depending on the types (noted above), bright orange, yellow-orange, white, blue, black, yellow-brown to tan or olive-tinged. The most popular being Cantharellus cibarius, which are found on the ground under conifers and oaks from southeast Alaska right down to California, usually in groups or 'veins', which makes it so fun to find them! Like a treasure hunt. Other characteristics to look for is the medium to large cap, which is broadly domed to almost flat when they are young and their white flesh. Smell is a big one. I can always positively identify chanterelles by their apricot aroma. Its very subtle, but its there.

One thing to be aware of are the two poisonous look-alikes of chanterelles. Now, don't be put off, they are easy to identify if you are a careful hunter. The western jack-o-lantern mushroom has thinner, more crowded gills and no white flesh. The other, the false chanterelle, has thinner, oranger gills and browner cap. Look these up if you are a beginner.

One more thing before you get out there, cleaning chanterelles is always a doozie. You will probably come home with a huge bag full, if you're lucky! I take a knife and just skim all the slime (if any) and pine needles off in the sink. Don't let them soak in water, as they are like sponges and you'll end up with a soggy mess. Dry them off carefully and put 'em in a pan over medium heat. They will start to release some water (which can be reserved for soup broth). When they start to look shriveled, get the butter out and saute those babies! Yum, and good luck!

-Jade 

How to dry saute mushrooms

Some mushrooms like the Chanterelles and Boletus absorb lots of water.  It is important when cooking these species to address this in order to avoid a mushy mushroom disaster.  

It is really easy!!!  All you do is heat an empty pan over medium heat.  Do not add anything to the pan except the mushrooms themselves.  Stir constantly and they will start to release their juices, you can either drain the juice or save it for a soup as mentioned earlier.  This process should take about 10 minutes.  When the mushrooms look like they have released most of their moisture than you can add anything you want, butter salt and pepper seem to do the trick just fine.  Enjoy.

White Matsutaki (Pine Mushroom) by Jade Bisson

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Hola Adventurers. Are you sick of mushrooms yet? Hope not! Cause the season is just getting good! Until last week, this mushroom was an elusive forest treasure that I just could not find. Probably because they are almost always covered with moss or pine needles.

I just needed to hike around with an expert hunter. Now I can find them just by sniffing. 'Just like a Truffles pig?' you ask? Yes. Just like a Truffles pig. Thanks guys. But really, these beauties are highly prized, especially in Japan, for their strong aroma and complex flavors. Have you guessed yet? Yes! The Great White Matsutake! Aka The Pine mushroom, aka Tricholoma magnivelare,if you wanna get all Latin about it.

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Find them on the ground in sandy soils, especially under pine, fir, hemlock, and Douglas fir trees. Sometimes their cap is white and sometimes slightly yellowish, but mostly with brown or cinnamon 'scales'. Pines also have a veil present, which is kinda this fiber that rings around the upper stalk. Their flesh and stalk are very firm, not jiggley at all.

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My friend Yuki says the best way to eat these babies, and not ruin the flavor, is to salt them lightly, then roast them on the BBQ (or a campfire!). Serve with soy sauce and lime drizzled on top. So good. If you are wanting to mellow the cinnamonny flavor, then go ahead and saute them with butter and garlic. They are super meaty and will fill you right up. WARNING: Pines very much resemble a white species of Amanita which has a different odor and a more fragile veil, but in the excitement of finding your first Pine mushroom....don't get confused! Make sure you've got the RIGHT one before you BITE one!!!!! Happy Hunting!!!!!

Fungus for Thought by Captain Quinn

The number of kingdoms of classification varies depending on who you ask.  Furthermore, this number is always changing with advancements in scientific technology and capabilities.  There was a time when there where only two: Plants and Animals.  However, according to multiple sources including Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia, there are currently 6 recognized kingdoms of classification: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea and Bacteria.  As you may have guess the one we will be focussing on in this section is: the kingdom Fungi.  

"Mushroom are among the most mysterious of life forms. The ancient Greeks believed they came from Zeus's lightning because the appeared after rains and reproduced and grew inexplicably.  In the Middle Ages, the circular patterns formed by some mushrooms were dubbed "fairy rings" and were thought to be the work of the "little people," who supposedly danced around them at night, performing magic rites.  In the New World some hallucinogenic mushrooms have been called "the food of the gods" and invested with supernatural powers."

-A passage from "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms" by Gary H. Lincoff and Knopf.