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
It has been raining, it is now warm and a little muggy. The time of year when a girl’s thoughts turn to fungi. After a couple of false starts things looked up a bit when we collected plenty of jelly ear and milk caps. The former are a bit of an acquired taste and I know some people put them in spicy casseroles and soups. Personally I like them dried as a snack. But I do appreciate I am someone of a loner on that front.
Plenty of LBT (little brown things that nobody can be bothered to identify) loads of stinkhorn (shame we can’t find a use for it but even if you can overcome the physical appearance the smell would put you off).
Some inidentifiable Agaricus and then, just as we were on our way back we stopped to let some horses past and I spotted this.
In all my year I have never managed to get a cep as big and as fresh as this. Not a mark on it, not an insect visible. A perfect example of why they are called Penny Buns. This is up there with the 18lb salmon I caught on my honeymoon (and has pride of place in the wedding album!). Now we just have to decide which of our recipes to use, or whether to just have it lightly fried on toast. I’m hankering after Papadelle with cep, sage and pancetta. I even have durum flour for the pasta.
I’m sorry if you are a fast reader, I am having to type very slowly due to the fact that the Devil himself has taken up residence in my right shoulder and is drilling away with a red hot poker. He has been there for almost two weeks and I was rather hoping he would be bored by now and have moved on to another victim but it would seem that he has settled in for the duration. Codeine and hot wheat packs are making a small dent in the pain. I shall pause briefly for you to say “Ahhh” and share some sympathy before moving on to the subject of the day………..
I promised recipes and those you shall have. All in good time. We have had a couple of days of sudden and heavy rain and we were rather hoping that there might be some mushrooms in the woods. There were not. Not to be defeated we picked our first rowan berries
and some pineappleweed.
It is still quite early for the rowan berries and I will pick more later in the year when they are a richer red. In the meantime they are simmering away on the stove ready to be made into rowan jelly.
The pineappleweed you will know, and quite possibly hate. It grows rampantly on driveways and similar hard stoney ground. If you crush the little yellow buds you will release a beautiful pineapple fragrance. You can dry it and make tea, but as the only teas I like are builders and apple I won’t be bothering with that. Instead I whizzed up a cup of buds with two cups of sugar. The oil in the buds makes the sugar rather wet so you have to leave it out to dry. It also makes it rather green.
But it makes delicious cakes and biscuits.
Now the salve recipes
- Collect and dry the comfrey leaves (I use the dehydrator)
- Crush and weigh leaves.
- Mix 1oz of leaves to 1 cup of olive oil
- Either leave to infuse for 4-6 weeks or heat gently (do not let boil) and leave to infuse for 24 hours. No prizes guessing which method I use.
- Strain through muslin.
- Add 1oz of beeswax (grated or use pellets or granules) to every cup of oil.
- Heat gently until wax fully melted.
- Pour into prepared jars to set.
Pretty much the same method but using dried lavender flowers.
I used this recipe from Quirky Cooking I don’t have the specialist cooker/mixer she uses but it worked just fine with a heavy bottomed pan and a whisk. I used 6tbsp of rosewater rather than rosewater and water, and I added a couple of drops of pure rose essential oil. Divine.