On fall foraging

P1010392Evening foraging trip to the pond behind our property

There is something about winter, you know?  Passing through this harsh and food-free season makes me eager to shake off winter’s traces with a rash of spring-green foraging.  I do it again now that fall breathes winter’s foreboding breath.  I seldom forage in summer.  Spring, though, and fall, and I am in kneeboots and gloves, briar-wicking clothing, knives, pruners, bags and baskets on my person.  Sometimes I cannot wait until I am past the age of respectability and can go about my business looking like a bag lady at all times a year; as it is, it’s only when it’s time for a free harvest that you’ll find me, wild-eyed and eager, tromping through the woods and fields.

Some years are good, some not so good.  What often holds true in the garden holds true in the neighboring fields, deserted orchards and woods around here.  This, despite the cold, was a good year.


The boletes are in.  And it was a great year.

I am not about to tell you how to find wild mushrooms, or where.  Consider the world of mushrooms to be a bell curve:  at one low end, the edible mushrooms; those in the hugely humped middle are inedible; the other low end are mushrooms that will outright kill you.  The ones that you can eat, though, well:  woodland heaven.


12 responses to “On fall foraging

  1. Now that would scare me. I don’t know enough about them to do that except the morels in the spring.

  2. Ooooh…mushrooms. The husband doesn’t care for them and I’m intimidated by the process of selecting from the wild (for the very reasons you list).

    We were in my old ‘hood in middle-of-nowhere New England recently and he noticed how many blackberry and black raspberry brambles were everywhere. THIS was the wild foraging of my childhood. Nothing better than a gallon or two of wild black raspberries. Nothing. I hope you have those in Michigan.

  3. El,

    I am ashamed to admit that I have been avoiding your site for months. Our little homestead has not been doing great this year, and reading your posts just kinda makes me all achy inside. Not with regret, but longing.

    I am back to collect motivation to plan and execute on next years garden/farm.

    I love mushrooms, edible or otherwise, and fall is always full of anticipation of the next patch. I have read a lot about Boletes, found many, but have not yet eaten any. I hope to find a good mycologist mentor sometime to take me out and show me the way… At this point I stick with the shaggy mane, morels, and wood blewit. I hope to also inoculate my garden with spawn for edible and beneficial varieties, and get a few mushroom logs going.

  4. I love the pond, how neat. Isn’t foraging great! If you ever meet two other wild eyed crazies with bags full of edibles don’t shoot, it might be my wife and I:) You are much braver then me, we have so many bolete type mushrooms in our area I have not been able to positively identify them and am little nervous about trying some. One of these days I’ll have to hook up with a real shroomer and learn more about all these mysterious fungi. Those look so good.

  5. thank goodness my sister is the mushroomer in the family. She, who hates early morning, will cheerfully get up early to forage for mushrooms now. We usually get big flushes after our rain — boletes, chanterelles, oysters. . .

    I’m musing on how to get some walnuts.

  6. I will tell you what my mushroom guy said:
    “You can eat ANY mushroom. Once.”

  7. ha @ cookicrumb! another great post, will be using the phrase ‘past the age of respectability’ in future references to self.. As I often find myself doing when I read your missives is to feel great happiness for the kid and cluck about how I wish everyone was spending this sort of time with their offspring. Good job, young lady!

  8. My late Uncle was a good mushroom hunter but since I was a lad I never paid much attention when I went with him.Just took it all for granted so I would not try it on my own.I notice some trees in the pond.Is that the work of beavers or is the pond moving into higher or lower ground it wasn’t before.I can’t wait next week to go home to the finger lakes area and get my fill of real good apples and Grape Pie

  9. Oh and the real extra sharp Canadian Cheddar at the roadside stands.The kind that just crumbles when you pick it up and gets even more potent after a few days in the fridge loosly wrapped in butcher paper.

  10. Grandmabecker, yep, I don’t know enough about them either but these particular ones are both easy to recognize and none of its family is poisonous. Just takes a little knowledge!

    Zandt, yeah, I am quite alone in my house too as far as loving mushrooms. Like beets it’s something I just need to share with company! Yes, we have blackberries, not basketfuls of them but plenty, really. I…have a thing about brambles though! Hate them! It’s one of the reasons I don’t grow raspberries.

    Aw, TS, I am sorry to hear that…but hope I can still inspire you. Really. Sometimes some of this needs to be set on the back burner to other things in life; it’s time consuming, after all, and if life is busy then sometimes things have to give. But: Mushrooms: you know more than I do! I would google mycology clubs in your area; mushroom hunters love to teach even if they don’t love to give their special secret stashes away.

    Mike, same with you: look into your local extension service or google mycologists in Idaho and maybe you can tag along. I hope this doesn’t go the way a lot of other old-timey things have gone, as there’s nothing like finding a patch of morels. And: if I see you, I would probably recognize you!

    Stef, ooh, walnuts are fun to find. Looking in peoples’ yards is the easiest, just look for the littered driveway below. Great to know that Denise can lead you in the mushroom department, that’s fairly priceless considering how very expensive they are to find otherwise.

    CC, verily! Or so I have heard…

    Randi, goodness, girl, I am not so young: mid 40s can’t deny it, so…frankly the age of not giving a whoop is within sight!! Woot! I have a new favorite hat, for example, and I am wearing it everywhere, and am beginning to wonder if this is the way it’s going to go. (I hope so.) And as for the girl, I try not to force it, but she’s more than willing (most of the time) to get dirty or chop veggies.

    John, how very observant you are. This “pond” was on our property before it got divided up in the 60s and, yes, it’s actually a dammed stream. One of the things the family who used to live here did was: sell ice. Amazing, huh? They had an icehouse and everything, cutting ice out of the pond. I am sorry to hear you didn’t take advantage of your uncle’s knowledge when you had the opportunity. Have fun on your annual trek home to the homelands! And eeks that cheese sounds absolutely fabulous. And: grape pie! OMG!

  11. How I would love to find mushrooms such as those! My family in Germany know all the different ones to get, and oh do they taste sooooo good. Here in Georgia I would not know which is which!!

  12. I very glad to find this site on bing, just what I was searching for : D also bookmarked .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s