Autumn is my favorite time of year, with cooler, drier days and delightful evenings. Nuts and roots will become more important, and longer lasting fruits like apples can be gathered now. We got our puffball mushrooms from last week confirmed, and ate them simply sautéed with salt and pepper. Some people say that puffball is bland, but these ones were delicious. Hopefully this weekend we can find some more mushrooms when we take another walking tour with "Wildman" Steve Brill in Redding. This will be our first walk with him this season, we usually do 3-4 a year, but we have been busier than usual. In October, we plan on taking another tour with Russ Cohen in Southbridge, Massachusetts. We can always learn more, and enjoy their different teaching styles and personalities.
We continue to find wild grapes by smell, and the jam making has gone well. Autumn olives are also ripening for jams, fruit leather, and another batch of wine. We will also freeze some whole autumn olives to eat in oatmeal over the winter.
Robert gathered a bucket of white oak acorns this past week, and spent one morning shelling them. He would like to invest in a special nut cracker that costs $150 to shell these and other nuts much faster. Although they were only slightly bitter, he has proceeded with a week-long cold water leaching to remove any remaining tannins. He ground the hulled acorn nuts, soaked them in several changes of cold water, and will now dry the ground nuts to use in recipes.
On the Saturday after the weak hurricane, we headed to Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts to look for some more beach plums. The wind was still pretty fierce, and access was restricted to one area of the shore, with no water entry due to the high surf. We did find a few small, stunted trees with the tiny plums, but there was simply too much sand blowing in the wind to explore the area. The high surf threw hundreds of Atlantic surf clams up onto the beach near the high tide mark, and we gathered about a dozen to take home and cook up into chowder. They were tasty, but needed a lot of rinsing to clear the sand. There were also 2 different varieties of rosehips present on the beach, Rosa rugosa and a smaller, less thorny rosehip species. Some of the Rugosa roses exhibited white and pink flowers on the same bush. We also found some very sweet beach peas, just the right size to nibble upon.