There are several varieties of easily distinguishable, edible mushrooms, with none more well-known than the morel– a fungus, as opposed to a mushroom. While each has a distinct growing season and distinct locale, they all form a family of delectable wild foods that will be much sought after, like the French truffle.
The most distinguishable of the edible mushrooms is the puffball – a globe-shaped mushroom that can grow to soccer ball size, as well as includes a delightfully woody flavour. The favourite growing site of this mushroom is on dung heaps, in wood chips and rotting tree mulch, and near sunlit pastures. It is best eaten before the interior starts to turn from good white to brown to black. Make certain that your pick is really a puffball, and has no stalk growing inside. It must be firm and light-colored inside. Puffballs begin to develop in late spring & early summer, producing into the first fall.
The next morel cousin would be the shaggy mane, a morel-shaped mushroom with upward turning scales as well as a dusty brown color. It grows from spring until summer, to a height of 4-6″, preferring open air and meadows to the mottled lighting of a woodland. Shaggy manes are distinguishable by their tendency to break easily when handled.
Chanterelles are another delicacy with a flavour similar to morels. Although found in fall and summer, they like similar soil conditions. Imagine a trumpet with its mouth facing skyward, and you’ll have an image of the camel to brown chanterelle mushroom.
One of several most unusually shaped fungi is the hen-of-the-woods, a growth found at the base of decaying trees that looks nearly the same to a reddish hen with ruffled tail feathers. This delightful mushroom can be found in early summer and late spring. Catch it early and young, although, to ensure that it has not developed a woody texture.
Of course, one of the original edible mushrooms is the oyster mushroom which can often be found even as the snows just begin to melt. Growing on the sides of dead trees, these beautiful white clusters offer a beginning taste of the mushroom harvests to follow.
Other fungi and mushrooms can be edible, including shelf mushrooms, often found growing on decaying trees in shaded woodlands. Nonetheless, many of the standard umbrella type mushrooms have deadly sisters, while others (such as the shelf mushroom) may be edible, but have bland taste, or even tough textures.
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Without having a doubt, the many varieties of morels, however, are by far the most sought after, during their mid spring harvest season. Alongside them you are going to find a selection of fungi, many of which are not toxic, but are not the equal of the morel as a spring wild harvest treat.