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Foraging New Jersey – Late Summer Mushrooms!

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Despite sporadic rains the late summer mushroom harvest has been tremendously strong. I’ve been finding Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) and Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) in great quantity. Others species have also been abundant including Oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus), Ringless Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens), Aborted Entoloma (Entoloma abortivum), Bears Tooth (Hericium) and Cauliflower (Sparassis) mushrooms.  Each of these when properly identified and if found fresh can be a primary ingredient in many a delicious meal.

 

 

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Foraging & Making PawPaw Crescent Rolls

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Took a drive out to a forest in Pennsylvania with a known spot for foraging wild PawPaw.
The broad leaves of the tree give a jungle like feel to the forest and produce a sweet sugary fruit full of large seeds.

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My companions as botanists had a secondary goal beyond enjoying the fruit in the shade of the forest.
They plan to grow trees from the seed for their own backyards and to share through a native wild plant nursery.

We tasted and collected many fruits to find the most choice potential seeds.

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I gathered them gently in a basket hoping to avoid bruising the highly delicate fruit.

Along the Way, I found some very large and abundant Spicebush berries.

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and some Jewelweed seeds that have a taste very similar to walnut.

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Afterwards, I wanted to make a pawpaw crescent roll.

To do so, I made a mini fire to have just enough coals to cook over. The goal is to gently bake the crescent but not the pawpaw in a tinfoil pouch. A flip after 3 minutes and about 2 more minutes provided a delicious fruit filled pastry treat..

 

Making Oyster Mushroom Jerky

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If you follow my blog you may recall that I made some  Hen of the Woods Jerky that came out delicious.  Well, I tried the same recipe with Oyster mushrooms and it did come out tasty but Hen wins easy for texture and flavor.

To make the mushroom jerky, I boiled pieces for 10 minutes, strained and placed them in a marinade overnight.  The marinade was a mix of honey, chili powder and soy sauce.  The jerky went in the dehydrator the next day at a low temperature for about 8 hours until it felt right.

To learn all about oyster mushrooms check out this excellent article over at Epic Gardening!

https://www.epicgardening.com/how-to-grow-oyster-mushrooms/

July Mushroom Foraging

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My wife and I have been out and about visiting some spots that we like to check after the summer rains for wild edible mushrooms.  Particularly of interest at this time are the Black Trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides) and Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.).

When I first try mushrooms…after multiple positive identifications, I like to fry them up alone in butter and try them on a toastie. It is a good way to get a true taste of the flavor without mixing too many ingredients.

Remember if mushroom foraging to trust yourself not me!

Springtime Wild Edible Salad

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For lunch on a recent outing I collected some fresh young purslane, trout lily, spring beauty, wild violets, red maple leaves and seeds and red bud blossoms. Together they made a fine wild edible spring salad. There was also Ostrich fern fiddle heads and leeks coming up (that had been transplanted for future harvest), lambs quarters (too young to harvest without killing the growth) and plenty of wild onion aka chives if you want to get fancy.

My favorite is the spring beauty as it has a fresh crunch and the trout lily as it reminds me of a cucumber skin flavor. The redbud also has a nice little pea flavor and the purslane is an easy to eat exceptionally nutritious addition. The garlic mustard, dandelion, onion grass I usually eat sparingly unless I have some balsamic vinegar or other dressing to flavor up some of the taste.

There are many good resources out now on wild edibles to help build up ones confidence and confirm identification, one of the recent books that I picked up was Leda Meriedith’s Northeast Foraging, 120 wild and flavorful edibles from beech plums to wineberries. The book is appropriate for all skill levels but I think it makes for an excellent beginner guide as she provides a 2-3 page spread on each of her most used, favorite edibles rather than provide information on the emergency possibility of some plant that needs to be boiled in a change of water 27 times. Samuel Thayer has two great books and a dvd and Greene Dean on Youtube goes all the way with his acronym I.T.E.M. = Identification, Time of Year, Environment and Method of Preparation.

Tripple S Tonic – Sweetbirch, Spicebush & Sassafrass

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The Tripple S Tonic as it was called consisted of Sweetbirch, Spicebush and Sassafrass. Each of these plants has its own individual excellent flavors and benefits but when combined together the tea was marketed as having the ability to cure just about every ailment known and rejuvenate health to a level of childhood play. Combining twigs from sweetbirch (betula lenta) and spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and the root of sassafrass (Sassafrass albidum) the tea has a flavor that includes notes of fruity, spicy, sweet and fresh.

Sumac-aide – From Tart Berries to Tea

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Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) is a common sight along roadsides and field edges. In the Mid-Atlantic you can find the seed heads in bloom early July into late August. The tangy sour flavor of the seed heads imparted from their malic acid can be turned into a refreshing sumac-aide drink. Check out Sam Thayer’s book and DVD Forager’s Harvest to learn about this and other top choice wild edibles with the confidence necessary to forage.

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