Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fall Mushroom Season in Full Swing

Cantharellus californicus - the Giant Golden California Chanterelle has made its usual appearance under oak trees within the coastal fog belt of Northern California. Today is the first day of December.

Yesterday, we found several under Coastal Live Oaks near sea level - Quercus agrifolia - though they appear under several species of oaks in our area. In our yard they appear under Canyon Live Oaks, Quercus chrysolepis. I am suspicious that they can grow on Tanbark Oaks, yet lack proof.

Please be aware there are poisonous mushrooms that can be mistaken for a Chanterelle, so don't start picking any edible mushrooms based on a book, a photo, or this blog. If you are interested, there is only one safe route to the practical knowledge - join a local mycological society and participate in some of the forays to become familiar with the local practices and rules. We are erratic members of the Mycological Society of San Francisco ( Good mycological societies can be found in many cities. While you might expect these societies to be full of scientists, generally there are many different constituencies - a large one of which often includes top local chefs!

This species is the largest chanterelle species in the world. Finding one is often enough for a quality risotto for the whole family (one of our normal ways of fixing them), though they can be sliced and sauteed or fixed any number of ways. Avoid freezing or drying this type of mushroom, the results can be disappointing.

There is joy in finding even just one of these. Asking my son about the one he found, he had this to say "but what about all the poison oak?" - he raises a good point, as Poison Oak often grows under these oaks (it is not an oak, but a low shrub or vine that causes horrible contact rashes, about a day after contact...).

If you do find one, there are tricks to finding more, however! First, stop moving. Stand still and look around - these rarely occur alone, more typically occurring in groups under the dripline of the tree. Second, these often do not push up far above the leaf litter - or at all - so look for low mounds with bits of chanterelle poking out at the edges. Here is what you often see when hunting these in the field:

Consider this our invitation to you to experience the joys of mycology and mushroom hunting!

No comments:

Post a Comment