I love hiking in the woods near my home. The other day, hiking with a friend, I noticed some baby reishi mushrooms on a dead log. I ripped a few off, shared them with her, and left some to get bigger for other folks and critters to enjoy. When they are bigger, the white tips darken and toughen. Then I slice and dry them and add a slice when I simmer spices to make chai in the winter.
The white tips of the baby reishi mushrooms are very delicious. My daughter, Michelle, who has eaten other wild mushrooms asked me how they taste. The only way to describe them is they have a unique, gourmet, deep, rich mushroom aroma and flavor. Like most wild foods, they are tasty and nutrient dense, a little goes a long way.
I sautéed them with eggs for a delicious brunch. The reddish brown, the rest of the mushroom, I saved and let dried on the kitchen counter. Eventually, I will cut up. Save the slices or use to make a tincture,. I have a friend, who prefers to grind the dried reishi into powder to add to winter broths, teas and other preparations.
Mother nature is generous, giving us wild foods like reishi mushrooms to enhance our immune system.
Learning to hunt for edible wild mushrooms was an education that rewarded my adventurous spirit.
It began one autumn day about 20 years ago when I and a few other interested locals explored the woods with three wild edible mushroom experts. One by one, we brought our finds to the guides, who carefully examined them before giving us mostly the thumbs down sign.
We were, however, advised to hold onto the rejects and study them for the purposes of identifying them again and again.
Since that first guided edible mushroom hunt and hike, I have learned to identify chicken of the woods, lion’s mane, puff balls, maiitake mushrooms, chanterelles, and false chanterelles. Whenever, I am alone and find mushrooms I do not know, I take a photo and send it to a more knowledgeable wild mushroom friend or expert. That keeps me safe when I need help knowing if it edible.
Wild mushrooms form a network underground in the forests in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some are just pretty, and best left in the ground. Others like these reishi mushrooms are a gift from nature.
Sometimes, if I have a big score of wild mushrooms like last fall, when I found several giant maiitakes, I offer them in dishes like risotto to my personal chef clients.
Click here to contact me to schedule wild mushroom hikes. For that, I will make sure I have another expert on our hike.
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