I love foraging

This is what 6# looks like with bad lighting

I can’t hide my feelings of excitement towards foraging. I’m not afraid of what others think because honestly, I wish we all could have these skills. We once used to, you know. I wish we could all band together and share knowledge and time and excitement around this connection of food and life. And I wish I didn’t sound so crazy saying things like this. But I am happy to know I’m not alone and there are plenty of other people out there who may have the same feeling about walking through the forest and wanting to know every plant that is in your path and whether you can eat it or not. Or what foods to best pair it with. I don’t want to go out and live in a tent, I like hot showers, too. But I find this passion of mine that centers in food and nature is not waning. It scares me sometimes but I’m glad I still have a desire to learn more, know more, cook more, and eat. And share!

My dog is my current foraging buddy and we had our first mushroom hunt together. She was a little confused when I walked off trail; apparently she is used to the trail and likes the trail. She’s happy to sniff at the edge of the trail or go check things out, but the trail is safe to her. She knows that’s where we belong. Most of the time. I ventured off into rain soaked ground cover (not ivy, not salal, not ferns…sort of if ferns and holly hybridized, that’s what it would be) and my dog waited for me by the path as I went off looking for the impending motherload of chanterelles I would find that day. I must mention that Ubu is my first ever dog. And I love her. I have had goldfish (who never appreciated me reading books to them as an 8 year old) and parakeets that I pretended were puppies (I had one who would fetch dimes and run around the house with a dime in his beak. Seriously.) But I’ve always wanted a dog, a hiking buddy, someone that’s happy to see you when you come home, no matter how grumpy you are or how long you’ve been gone. She’s been a great hiking buddy lately and I thought maybe with that nose of hers she could be my truffle pig. She sniffed the first chanterelle I found but it was not interesting to her so she didn’t offer me much help during the day except to remind me where the trail was occasionally and that she wanted to move on. Regardless of her desire to hike far and long, and despite the random rain showers, it was a great day to be in nature and a great bonus to find as much as I did. I tried to find the spot where I found a cauliflower mushroom last year, but couldn’t. That’s fine because I ended up with six pounds of chanterelles and one monster lobster mushroom.

The biggest chanterelle I have ever seen

Luckily, chanterelles last pretty long in the fridge in a paper bag. I add a damp hand towel to maintain some moisture and it’s been about a week and they still look good. I froze about half of my bounty using the dry saute method, which I’ll outline below. Chanterelles have a high water content so it’s best to give them a dry saute before freezing or using since so much liquid comes out of them and we don’t want slimy gross mushrooms for dinner.

To dry saute mushrooms:
1. Heat a pan over high heat.
2. Add cleaned mushrooms and sprinkle with salt (this helps draw more moisture out and enhances the flavor)
3. Keep them moving in the pan until they release their liquid and keep them moving around in the pan until the liquid has evaporated (or you can pour off the juices and save for sauces, gravies, or whatever you desire).
4. Once they are dry-ish, add some fat of choice (olive oil, margarine etc.) and at this point I add minced garlic. I like garlic.
5. Reduce the heat to medium and saute for 5-10 minutes. Ideally you want to cook these mushrooms a minimum total of 10 minutes because they are wild and the books say to do it.
6. I tend to lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them (then transfer to a freezer bag) at this point or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for as long as you are comfortable (a week if they even last that long). OR, continue cooking and add them to whatever you were working on.

My remaining fresh mushrooms have graced my pasta dishes and snuck into my tofu scrambles. I even made a big pot of cream of chanterelle soup, but I used soymilk in it and wasn’t crazy about it. I think it may need a thick cashew milk or maybe less liquid. It was still delicious but I really wanted it to taste like Campbell’s Soup. Most of the mushrooms were straight up side dish mushrooms and garlic. I intend to go crazy and experiment with them but they are so good fresh and hot that that is the preferred option. I hope to make time to do the fried mushroom dish in Artful Vegan (I think they use oyster mushrooms) but I am always intimidated with the serious time dedication most of his recipes involve. We will see.

3 Responses to “I love foraging”

  1. Steffers Says:

    You absolutely don’t sound crazy! My mom used to take us foraging when we were kids and chanterelles are still my favorite :-)

  2. Becca Says:

    As a lover of traditional skills and as a tightwad, I totally hear you. The closest I get is blackberry picking, but Shane and I found an amazing patch behind a park at home and we picked a huge amount without making a dent. It’s terribly exciting.
    Delicious, creative, healthy, free, what more could you want?

  3. Veggie Wedgie Says:

    I love wild mushrooms!!

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