Each year that I live at Loganberry Forest homestead I try and learn more about the natural environment around us and the wild foods in our neighbourhood and property that we can add sustainably add to our diet and larder. A new addition to my foraging knowledge both in terms of identification and location is a few varieties of wild mushrooms.
Before I got into this further just note this is simply my story of what we have been doing and finding and that there are real risks with wild mushrooms as there are some that are even deadly to eat. You need to be 100% of something if you want to eat it and many can’t be easily identified by pictures alone. At the bottom are some links to resources of better information about mushroom identification.
My wild mushroom foraging began this autumn which is a peak time for mushrooms to fruit. I am fortunate enough to attend a children’s bush school run in Dalesford by Patrick from Artist as Family. Patrick is a skilled forager and we spent many sessions with the kids identifying poisonous and edible mushrooms. The main edible mushroom we found was Saffron Milkcaps or Lactarius deliciosus.
Saffron milkcaps have a reputation as being one of the tastiest wild mushrooms out there and are easily identifiable by beginners. They have a kind of peach-apricot kind of colour and bleed a bright orange/yellow saffron colour when scraped with a finger or knife. They have gills and the top of these mushrooms are kind of indented and cup shaped.
I was fortunate to discover that we had a few of these mushrooms growing at Loganberry Forest under our pine trees as well as another area of pine trees walking distance from our property.
In early summer we got some unseasonable rainfall and cold weather and mushrooms made another appearance. This time it was Suillus granulatus that were growing both under our own pine trees and those down the road. There were actually quite a lot of them.
Suillus granulatus is also called weaping bolette, or confusingly Slippery Jack. I added the confusingly because actually Suillus granulatus is not Slippery Jack – that is traditionally Suillus luteus but they both look very similar (except granulatus lacks a ring on the stem present in luteus) and both are edible so some people lump them all into one category. I like to think that now after researching all of this i’ve now effectively learnt the identification of both mushroom species although I am yet to actually see a luteus in person.
Suillus granulatus has a skin on its cap that can be sticky or slippery when they are damp and varies in colour from orange to tan. This sticky skin attracts a lot of bad bacteria so needs to be removed before eating these mushrooms. Underneath the cap it has a type of spongy layer rather than gills which vary in colour from bright orange to cream depending on maturity. Some people choose to remove this as well as it can have a bit of a slimy texture when cooked but personally I think this is a waste as it is edible and makes up a lot of the bulk of the mushroom. The stem of granulaus is slightly speckled if you look up close and this is also edible.
Suillus granulatus needs to be cooked before eating (and really you should be cooking all mushrooms). The texture of the mushroom is improved (less slimy) when it is first dehydrated and this is also a good way of preserving it. I sliced most of my collection up and dehydrated it along with my homegrown oyster mushrooms to store for winter stews when we have less food coming out of the garden. I did enjoy some first on a pizza though.