Friday, October 15, 2010


We have started our education on mushrooms. It is difficult to find someone to teach us, so we sign up for all foraging tours with our local educators, Wildman Steve Brill and Russ Cohen. We have purchased several books on mushrooms. We hike the woods and find mushrooms, bring them home, and use some techniques we have learned to try to identify them. Robert takes many photos of the tops, bottoms, stalks, and bases, cuts them open to test for bruising and color changes, and spore prints them. We then get help from David Fischer's website to verify the mushrooms. Rarely, we eat them.

A good mushroom we are comfortable with is the sulfur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus), or chicken mushroom. We were very fortunate to find a very young specimen in September that yielded about 40 pounds of usable mushroom. The flesh has a very firm texture like chicken. We ate it fresh in many dishes, dehydrated some, and froze some more to use later.

We have also come across many honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea), including a colony in our own back yard. These are good in soups, as they get a bit slimy when sautéed.

Pear shaped puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme) are also another good one for us to search for. They can be very small, but are usually found in great quantities on a dead log. They cook up nicely, holding their shape and texture. We have also come across some giant puffballs (Langermannia gigantea) that fry up like a filet.

Foraging Walks

Over the past month, we have been fortunate enough to take walks with 2 foraging experts. First was with Wildman Steve Brill in Redding, CT on a parcel of private land. The habitat included some open, disturbed areas and some mixed forest. In the open area, we spotted some bay laurel, fox grass, wood sorrell, black birch, and garlic mustard. Steve Brill discussed acorns, including differences between white and red oaks, and how to process the nuts into something edible. There were also some hickory trees, but no nuts this year. We headed into the woods to seek out some mushrooms, but the dry weather was working against us. We came across a few parasol and honey mushrooms, along with a log-full of pear-shaped puffballs. At a second location, we dug some ramp bulbs. Robert, Gillian and I stopped at one more location on our own to gather some winecaps, bear's head tooth, pear-shaped puffballs, and sulfur shelf mushrooms.

For a Last Green Valley Walktober event, we met Russ Cohen in Southbridge, MA for another walk. It took place at Westville Lake Recreation area, and covered a lot of habitats, including riverside, wood's edge, forest, and open grassy areas. Russ Cohen covered autumn olives, grapes, mulberries, hen of the woods mushroom, sumac, pokeweed, day lily, burdock, garlic mustard, and many others. We ended up bartering some jellies for a wonderful hen of the woods mushroom.

Letterboxing Events

We have been very happy to attend some letterboxing events this autumn. It is always so nice to see old friends, new faces, and the fantastic weather makes it even more fun.

We attended A Mystical event in Mystic, CT in mid-September hosted by Maire's Facets. It was an event intended to introduce some elderly residents and their families to letterboxing. The event was held at Academy Point, a former school overlooking the Mystic River. The food was catered and yummy. The carves were fantastic! Afterwards, a group of us including MMACJ, Rocklun, and Misplaced Manatee headed to the nearby Peace Sanctuary for some hiking. Then we drove over to B F Clyde's Cider Mill for cider, and finally off to Ender's Island for another box. Great day, 22 finds.

In October, we headed to Hopkinton, MA for T2's Boxing Birthday Blitz hosted by Travelers 4 and Choi. My broken toe is still bothering me, so I stayed behind to socialize with Gillian while Robert hiked the boxes with Automan01440. There were so many fantastic series planted here, including some using Dartmoor style triangulation. The day netted some new faces for me, and 60 finds. We brought some fox grass seed polenta topped with ramps cream cheese spread and purslane for the potluck.

Next: OMG Halloween in Portsmouth, NH. The hotel room is booked, we are ready!