Summer took its time, yesterday I wore my first sundress of the season! But who cares about sundresses when we can have mushrooms? One of the advantages of lots of damp weather followed by the glorious warmth of the past few days is the massive growth in fungi in the woods.
The first was the chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), one of the few edible bracket fungi.
Then the boletes (Boletus sp.) and puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum)
As with all foraging only collect what you know and can positively identify. After many years of foraging there are only a handful of mushrooms I will pick unless I am on a formal course/led walk. These are boletes, chanterelles, jelly ear, puffball and shaggy ink cap. There are plenty of others I am fairly confident in identifying but it is too easy to be confident and wrong so I leave them be. The most useful advice I have ever been given, by a professional forager and chef, is to learn one mushroom at a time. Learn everything you can about it until you can identify it and explain why you can identify it and distinguish it from any other potentially inedible or poisonous mushroom and then, and only then, start to learn about another one. The same advice works well for any plant you might forage from aerial parts to berries to roots.
Many of the boletes have been sliced and popped in the dehydrator for use throughout the year.
But when there is an abundance of fresh fungi then you can be sure it will be on the dinner table.
The boletes and puffballs were just sliced and fried in seasoned butter with lots of garlic.
Delicious, but not quite as utterly yummy as the chicken of the woods. A solid and meaty fungus with a strong, very chickeny flavour, it is one of my favourites. Today I chopped it into large bite sized pieces.
Dipped into beaten egg and then seasoned flour with lots of paprika. Fried in butter it is hard to stop sneaky fingers stealing it straight from the pan.
A friend also suggests frying larger pieces without the egg and flour coating and then covering with grated cheese and popping under the grill. It also pickles very well, holding its shape and flavour (use a lightly seasoned vinegar with with additional sugar and maybe some thyme and oregano).
Love Gillie x