Foraging Fungi

From hunt to table, foraging is the most immersive experience of food, nature and the environment one can imagine. Wandering the trails of the Colorado woods with the mission of finding food made me enjoy being in the wilderness even more, because I was no longer a spectator. But it does require expert guidance to get the most out of your foraging adventure (and to stay safe). We went together with our favorite chef in Aspen, Nate King (Cache Cache Restaurant), who is also a veteran forager. Our mission: Find edible mushrooms.

We started at the periphery of the meadow in search of porcinis, without success. Along the way, we noticed edible flowers and berries, which we ate straight off the bushes. These wild edibles are richer in flavor than their supermarket counterparts, and nutrient dense. Noticing some fallen trees inside the forest we headed into the woods. This is the ideal environment for Wood Ear mushrooms. The kids had fun climbing over all the fallen trees- it was like a natural jungle gym. After many false alarms we spotted a log with sprouting Wood Ear Mushrooms. We let Hendrix use the knife to cut the mushrooms off the trunk, which he handled with great care and respect. He later told me that he was a little nervous but also felt very grown up. Liloo just tore the mushrooms off the trunk in hasty eagerness to harvest as many as possible.

wood-ears4

I think I was even more excited then the kids. The kids joked around holding the mushrooms to their ears- they really look like human ears. After we found this first bounty we discovered a couple more logs. It’s amazing what is right in front of our eyes yet we don’t really know about it. Coming home and enjoying a dinner from these hard earned mushrooms was very fulfilling. Hendrix was gobbling them up with such enthusiasm, which is great as they are super healthy. In China they are consumed as a medicinal food. What a culinary adventure.

wood-ears

Mushroom foraging should be approached cautiously, with proper preparation and expertise. In Colorado, there are about 50 to 100 varieties of mushroom that are edible, but also 100 which are poisonous and potentially deadly if eaten. Never touch anything if you’re unsure. And when you have any doubts, it is wise to connect with a mycologist or local guide to verify your finds.

The thrill of a foraging experience is steeped in the satisfaction of finding and cooking one’s own food. It not only connects us with nature but to our primitive selves. If you’d like to try your hand at foraging, seek out an experienced guide in your area and be sure to share your experience.

Happy foraging!

foraging

Tags: / Category: Adventures, Stories
Share on
Twitter Facebook

Submit a comment