Foraging Fun #1

All mushrooms are edible…once.


Yesterday, Cory’s father, Danny knocked on my door. I thought it was to retrieve the dog, Chopper, who often comes up to the apartment to snuggle on the sofa. This purpose was only secondary however, and he first asked me if I liked mushrooms. I was a little surprised but I said yes. I dressed quickly and followed him to the house where he said he had 10 GALLONS (!) of freshly picked wild morel mushrooms waiting. ‘Morels’, I said, ‘Wow, 10 gallons of morels?’ I know next to nothing about wild mushroom foraging, but even I’m aware that morels are among the choicest mushrooms around. I also know that they’re not the most common, and 10 gallons would be an exceptionally huge haul. (An aunt of mine enjoys moral hunting and had recently imparted this wisdom.) When I looked into the two 5 gallon buckets in the kitchen I was sure that they were not the promised morels. They were mostly white and very fleshy, and they clearly had grown on the side of a tree like a shelf, not like a morel at all.

I pulled up some online pictures of wild mushrooms in an effort to identify the haul. Danny meanwhile, broke off a chunk and popped it into his mouth. I gulped and scrolled through pictures a bit faster. Next, of course, he handed me a bite. I pretended to eat, and when his back was turned, slipped it into my pocket (Cory found this hilarious).

I kept searching while he started rinsing the mushrooms. Finally I found the picture I was looking for. Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus Squamosus), a common, easy to identify, kidney-shaped mushroom, often found growing on dead elm. It’s much more palatable when young and small, according to master forager, Wildman Steve Brill , and many of our specimens were huge, 8-10 inches across. Even still we got to work cutting out tough bites and slicing up the tender edges.  We laid them on cookie sheets to dry in a 100 degree oven….7 hours later they had made little progress, so Danny put them into the incubator in the attic of the garage.

So…we’ll just have to wait and see.


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