The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful place to live. I love that forests are so easily accessible, and rife with opportunity for educational adventures.
Last Sunday, I learned a lot when I joined my friend, her partner, and her sister on a mushroom foraging excursion. Chief among my findings – mushroom foraging is a competitive and secretive exercise. Locations in which prized mushrooms grow are not shared with just anyone, and people on the hunt will try and dissuade you from foraging in a territory if they know some could be out there.
I felt lucky to be going for my first time with such knowledgable passionate people – they are years-long members of the Puget Sound Mycological Society, and shared cool facts with me.Did you know that the Douglas fir tree and chanterelles have a symbiotic relationship with one another? While on this adventure (we went about 200 feet off trail into the forest), I also learned how to spot for areas that may have large and gorgeous mushrooms hiding under the duff. Knowing what to look for and really leaving no leaf or branch unturned… I tell you, this is an activity that requires patience, a sharp eye, and the ability to climb over vegetation and crouch for hours. Worth it, though!
I learned how to extract these golden chanterelle beauties from the earth in a way that maximizes the mushroom meat and doesn’t harm the underground network from which these mushrooms grow. And I learned how to clean and store the mushrooms in a way that doesn’t harm their delicate structure. I also learned that foragers should and do leave baby mushrooms in the ground to give them a chance to grow into something larger. Knowing where the babies are (and where to come back a week later) is valuable info that others may not have.
I have made some simple meals with them, but I can’t wait to make this dinner: chanterelles in a white wine cream and butter sauce tossed with pappardelle pasta, served with a chicken I roast myself. It is going to be bomb.
Another dish I want to make is baked chanterelles in chicken broth with onions, to put on top of smashed new potatoes. Maybe serve with pork chops or fish. The rest of the chanterelles I will sautée and freeze for future use. Can you say fall?!
Chanterelles – truly a buried treasure.