Edible Mushroom Forecast December/January
What a difference a month makes. CMS members were hauling in edible mushrooms left and right at this time last month. Then, the freezing temperatures hit and 2 weeks ago the rain shut off. So, does that mean the season is over? Well, not according to the display of wild harvested mushrooms in The Mushroomery booth at the Holiday Market on Saturday. As expected, they had winter fruiting mushrooms that can withstand the colder temperatures like Winter Chanterelles, Hedgehogs, Black Truffles, and Candy Caps. Plus they had Golden Chanterelles. They reported to us that despite the freezing temperatures they are still finding mushrooms in the Cascades. I am assuming these are locations with dense canopies that are holding in both warmth and moisture.
As for the coast, Ron and I drove over this week and were surprised to find dry conditions and very few mushrooms. But, perhaps we were not looking in the right spots. I checked in with CMS member Anna Moore who lives on the coast and she reported this: I haven’t seen any Boletes or Matsutake in the past week. But, there are lots of winter chanterelles and hedgehogs if you know where to look. I also found several pounds of golden chanterelles this past week. There are no candy caps on the coast but they can be found in the coast range. There is a small very orange Lactarius that could be mistaken for candy caps. Black truffles are also out in the coast range.
Not to veer off the subject of the Mushroom Forecast, but if you ever get a chance to hear Anna speak, do not miss it! She spoke on Mushrooms of the Oregon Dunes at a CMS meeting in March of 2016 and I was amazed at the diversity of edible mushrooms at the coast and especially interesting was their fruiting times. And, as seen in this picture, Anna also knows where to find them.I believe I have talked about the characteristics of most of the winter fruiting mushrooms in past articles; all except for Black Trumpets which are also known as Black Chanterelles or Horn of Plenty. Their scientific name has also changed from the European name of Craterellus cornucopioides to the North American species name Craterellus calicornucopioides. Black Trumpets are definitely easy to identify if you can find one. The vase-shaped fruiting bodies have finely scaly, gray to black upper surfaces and smooth or very shallowly wrinkled outer surfaces that are grayish-black to very dark brown with yellowish to buff spore dust as they mature. If they are in amongst a sea of green moss as in this picture they are easier to spot. But, against a dark forest floor, their dark color can make it difficult. In the book Mushrooms Demystified, David Arora recommends looking for black holes in the ground. The next challenge is to find a “Trumpet spot”, which is somewhat rare in our area. If not rare, definitely, not talked about. I do often hear that if you want to find Trumpets you need to head to the South Coast where they are abundant. According to Noah Siegel, author of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, Black Trumpets are abundant on the northern California Coast, extremely delicious, and one of the best mushrooms for beginners.
Best for Beginners – I would say that Hedgehogs are the best winter mushroom for beginners; actually for everyone. They are definitely the hardiest of the winter mushrooms. I have harvested them almost frozen solid and they were still just fine. If you can find a spot here, or if you are willing to day trip it down to the South Coast, you should also try the Trumpets. Unlike Chanterelles, they evidently are very tasty after drying. From Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast; “The fruitbodies rehydrate beautifully and can be kept dried for a long time – the flavor becomes richer, cheesier, and almost trufflelike; some people prefer to dry all of their collections.”