12 October 2013

Treasures From The Forest

A few weeks ago I booked a one day course in foraging in my local area and today was the day.


At a decently early hour, Lundulph dropped me off outside the barn where the course would take place. I was lucky to have my new Wellies, since it had been raining the last couple of days and I suspected it would do today as well. But the weather was on its best behaviour, still there were lots of muddy puddles everywhere.

We went through a number of plants that are good for eating and a few that we should be careful of, then moved onto mushrooms, again good ones and ones to avoid.

Amethyst Deceivers

After a lovely lunch, which contained quite a few foraged items, we drove a couple of miles out of the village and into a chestnut coppice, which turned out to be full of mushrooms.

Many of the course participants just picked all mushrooms they could find and got the teachers to identify them. I opted for picking only edible mushrooms and ignored the ones I wasn't sure about. I realised I need to train my eyes to get the fancy and tasty boletus species. Instead I was pretty good at finding the amethyst deceiver, which has a rather unnatural lilac/purple colour and shape-wise reminded me a little of my beloved funnel chanterelles.


But as I was rushing to catch up with the rest of the group I came across a fabulous treasure - funnel chanterelles! I thought they didn't grow in the UK, but obviously I was very wrong. The teachers were pretty impressed and confirmed that indeed this type of mushroom likes it colder. It is also called yellowfoot, which makes sense.

So I came home with a couple of boletes, a couple of handfuls of amethysts and about 10 tiny yellowfoot mushrooms. As always, cleaning them took a lot longer than picking and in particular I had to throw away quite a lot of the amethysts since they had worms inside them. Hot tip for next time, check when picking rather than when cleaning them at home.


Once all my mushrooms were cleaned, I fried each type off with a little salt only. Once they stopped releasing liquid, I added a little butter. I wiped the pan clean between each, so that Lundulph and I could get an idea of the different tastes. As I suspected, purple colouring doesn't seem to survive heating, very much like purple vegetables (possible exception is purple cabbage perhaps), so went brownish. The boletes had a really nice fleshy yet soft texture, so definitely worth picking and of course there were too few yellowfoot to be worth bothering with.

I toasted a few slices of bread, buttered them and we had them with the fried mushrooms on top. Very nice. Lundulph also liked the boletes best, so I'll try to go mushroom picking in the coming weeks. And I was quite pleased about the plants I got to learn about, I'll definitely try to incorporate some of them in my cooking, especially when some of the plants are quite prolific weeds in my garden - being tasty is such a great incentive to go and collect them.

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