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A late fall treasure

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I have to admit that I myself have never been to the forest for mushroom hunting.  It is not that I don’t want to go per se, it is more along the lines that so many others go that it seems a bit ridiculous to send a pack of six people into the forest for one basket of little fungi.  Besides, if an avid mushroom hunter goes out, say like Husband or Brother-in-law, then they are likely to be out there for most of the day, frequently winding up upwards of five miles from where they started, wandering back in the cold and dying light along a deserted road.  So I am happy to send them out mushroom picking, and reserve my forest excursions for things like walnuts and fruits.

I do, however, enjoy the fruits of their labor.  A typical Husband/Brother-in-law hunt will yield at least a kilo of mushrooms, which is quite a few given how much they individually weigh.  The spoils of the hunt are picked clean and dried, then divided among the hunters and their parents for use throughout the winter. 

Drying is quite easy, and requires either a dehydrator or a covered tray outside, depending on how patient you are.  (Turn the mushrooms daily if drying outside, until completely dried.)  The dried mushrooms need to be stored in a paper bag, without question, so that they have enough air to stay dry.  Speaking from experience, storing them in glass or plastic ensures an interesting science experiment after a few weeks, not to mention an inexplicable fit of wrath from the hunter over the spoiled bounty.

Before cooking, the mushrooms can be gently rehydrated in simmering water, or ground into a powder to use in seasoning.  I use them mostly in soups (er, exclusively rather), but they can also be used in sauces and similar dishes.

There should be an obvious word of caution here – most mushrooms are edible, but the ones that aren’t can make you very ill.  So please be careful when you go out mushroom hunting, especially if you are new to it, and make sure to take someone knowledgeable with you.

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About Kara

I am what happens when you combine a WWII enthusiast, an environmentalist and a frugal celiac/coeliac.

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