A Shortcut to Mushrooms
Two edible mushrooms to look for this summer
Words and Photos by Erica Ticknor
One of the most incredible things about Minnesota is its immensely lush landscape. Yes, I know it sounds crazy because of the long, frigid winters, but it’s true. The amount of moisture that we get during the spring and summer months provides vegetation we can hunt for: edible mushrooms.
The foraging community in Minnesota has been around for decades, but is continuing to grow year by year. There are many different groups and clubs that provide endless information on how to find and cook mushrooms, organize team hunts, and exist as a means to meet people with similar foraging interests. One of these groups would be a great place to start if you are interested in edible mushroom foraging.
Though there are an abundant amount of mushroom species to be found in the dense state of Minnesota, I want to talk about two kinds that anyone can find this summer. Both of these kinds can be found in many state parks near the metro, or just generally in densely wooded areas near water.
Tips for getting started:
When going foraging, you must bring a meshed bag or paper bag, so that the mushrooms stay fresh when you are transporting them home. Along with that, it’s imperative that you bring a small knife to cut them from their stem and do not rip them out. Lastly, and most importantly, do not ever take all of the mushrooms in the yield. Nature is to be shared, and leaving behind spores will provide mushrooms in the years to come.
Oyster Mushrooms Pleurotus ostreatus
Nature’s delicious gift to us. These mushrooms are easily cooked by tossing in oil with fresh herbs so they’re perfect for a summer pasta dish. Below are a few criteria for finding these mouthwatering mushrooms:
† Most important trait is that they always grow on wood, whether it’s a fallen dead log or a living tree.
† Found in cooler temps, often after a spring or fall rain, or when temperatures dip down in the summer.
† They can be white, yellow, or beige, and have a smooth top with a gilled bottom.
† They grow in small shelf-like clusters.
Another delectable mushroom, these babies are the perfect wild mushroom for many summer dishes with their savory flavor and easily identifiable traits. However, they have a poisonous imposter, so it’s crucial that they are identified correctly. But when in doubt, throw it out. Here’s how to find them:
† They sprout during the hot spell after a rain, growing directly out of soil, and not out of trees or moss.
† Bright orange color, with false gills under the cap. They are considered polypores, so it’s truly just rounded, ridged ends that go down to the stem that look like gills.
† When cut, they should have a true, white flesh.
† They grow in singles, but usually near other chanterelles.
† Make sure to examine for bug infestations, and cut those parts off of the mushroom.
These steps are to be used as a simple guide, or a way to get started with foraging in Minnesota. I would encourage anyone and everyone to try it, but to make sure ask questions to someone well-versed in foraging when getting underway as a beginner Minnesota forager. Happy hunting!