Mushrooming

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Everyone’s got a hobby of one sort or another.  We actually have quite a number – woodworking, stained glass, etc.  For me, the line gets blurred between a hobby and a sport.  A hobby is something that one does for the pleasure and the relaxation of it.  A sport is more of a physical activity, like golf, baseball, or football.  So I’m not sure where ‘mushrooming’ falls – as it is a source of relaxation, fun, and physical exertion (as in – LOTS of walking through the woods).

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They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure.  For those that don’t go mushrooming, it’s hard for them to understand the draw.  As someone who enjoys the ‘sport’, I get a great thrill every time I find one of the prized mushrooms I seek – like porcini and chanterelle.  It’s exciting, exhilarating, and satisfying.

At worst… it’s a lovely walk in the woods.  At best, one comes home with coveted mushrooms to eat and enjoy.  In what other sport can you eat your spoils?

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I still remember the very first time I ever tasted a porcini mushroom.  It was probably 25 years ago in Pisa, Italy.  There was a basket of porcini’s in front on this lovely bistro.  I stopped to ask the attendant what they were…. when they described this king of mushrooms fresh picked from their local forest, we went straight inside and ordered off their menu those dishes they recommended that were porcini forward.  I will never forget the meaty, earthy delicious flavor they imparted.  Like no mushroom I have ever eaten.

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Years later, now living in Northern Arizona, once I heard there were porcini mushrooms growing in our local forests, I just knew I had to get educated on the how, where’s and what to find them for myself.  Now I forage for my own, and enjoy the ‘foraging bug’ and finding my own wild things to put on my table and in my pantry.  The euphoria and joy of finding these beautiful little treasures is unparalleled.  I’m hooked.  Can’t wait to go back.

 

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Mushroom Foraging

magicmush_Ssi.JPGSince the first time I tasted a porcini just outside of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, I was hooked.  The flavor of a porcini is like none other.  Fresh, fried in butter it melts in your mouth with a umami elegance and buttery nuttiness. It’s the best mushroom ever.

Walking through our AZ forests I have thought for years that I wish I could forage for my own mushrooms.  After our rains, they are everywhere.  Surely some edible.  Hmmm.

It’s only recently that I was able to actually join a mushroom club to help me determine which are edible, and which to stay away from.  With this knowledge and practice I could fill my table with delectable mushroom treats.

So it seems… I have a new hobby.  What’s not to like… walking in the forest on a quest for something delicious that you can consume.  Awesome!

This year alone we have been on 7 mushroom hunts… and we’re building confidence, safety, and our coffers with a finite collection of edible beauties.  We have chosen to only pick mushrooms that are easily identifiable with easy to spot look alikes in order to avoid all risks.  The mushrooms we can now collect and consume with confidence include the prized porcini (how amazing is that), morels, chanterelles, oyster, and lobster mushrooms.

aspenbolete_Ssi.JPG With all the recent rains we are starting to not only build experience, but product as well.  We are de-hydrating and cooking up mushrooms to freeze… and hosting mushroom dinners with fresh varieties.  You can check out our most recent mushroom feast here.

It’s about time we took on a hobby that didn’t require WORK. 🙂