Mushrooms! Mushrooms! And Yes More Mushrooms!

This year everyone seems to be talking about foraging for mushrooms. It’s not something I’ve ever tried, mostly because identification seems like a tricky thing and I don’t want to end up in hospital or worse.

But I was staying at my parents in Kent in early November, and they have had a lovely display of Poplar Fieldcap Mushrooms where two elderly birch trees have died and been cut down over the last few years. You can even trace the line of the old tree roots where the mushrooms have sprung up.

I scrutinised the internet for about three days before deciding that these were indeed safe to eat. The problem with identification is that they change as they grow, and with speed, so you’re never quite sure if you’re looking at the same plant two days later or if you’ve actually got yourself a poisonous variety. In the end I took the plunge, picked one, and nibbled at it tentatively and waited for a reaction. Thankfully that never came.

The problem at that particular moment in time, was that my parents aren’t interested in foraging or budgeting and definitely don’t want to eat mushrooms from the garden and I live 254 miles from them, so I had a challenge on my hands. Time and suitable storage to get these back to my own home.

Mushrooms are expensive in the supermarkets for what they are, and rarely are they on yellow sticker offers. I want to harvest a substantial number of the mushrooms in my parent’s garden before I head back north, but how do I do this without them going bad? Over to Google where I discovered a darning needle, thread, an airing cupboard and about 9 days are all you need. Put simply, I can employ much the same techniques that I have used to store rose hips – just dry them out.

The advantage of doing this here in Kent and not back in Manchester, is an airing cupboard, not a facility I have. I suspect my less than toasty flat doesn’t lend itself to the drying of fungi. This was an opportunity not to be passed up.

So I picked my mushrooms and strung them up on thread, hanging them from bamboo poles in the (thankfully spacious) airing cupboard (much to my mother’s dismay) for the duration of the remainder of my visit. After this I packed them in paper bags to finish the drying process and get them home, and then sealed them in airtight containers.

Making sure they are fully dry is key to their long-term storage. Any moisture left in them once they are packed away will result in a mouldy batch that ends up having to be thrown away. But once properly dried they can last up to two years.

If you look up dried mushrooms on the internet, they are even more expensive, so I’ve got myself a good crop here that could easily be worth more than £50 and will last me well into 2022. In fact, I doubled the number of strings after I took this photo.

They are good for stir fries and casseroles, and can be added dry or popped in boiling water for 5 minutes to rehydrate them. As I rarely buy mushrooms this is an addition to my regular diet. Variety, when you don’t have access to whatever you want, is important. There is also a great satisfaction to preparing a supply like this. It’s fun to do, foraging, preparing and storing such a valuable crop. It feels like a job well done.

3 thoughts on “Mushrooms! Mushrooms! And Yes More Mushrooms!

Add yours

  1. Well done you. I’m equally cautious about mushrooms in the wild, but we love them. We’ve been talking about growing mushrooms on logs here, which largely gets around the issue of misidentification. Although the lead times to crop can be a few years …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say find a species you can trust, pick them before they’ve spored and scatter the spores where you want them to grow. I think the maple field cap is a good one. At least once you’ve got them growing they will come back every year. The maple field caps are prolific and if you can dry them you’ll have a year round supply! There’s a Youtube forager called WIldFoodUK and he does really good identification vids.

      Liked by 1 person

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