We get occasional inquiries on recommended field guides which cover our region. Walt Sturgeon has published a new field guide through Ohio University Press which I highly recommend. Here is a link to a recent review from well known nature photographer Ian Adams. – Jerry Pepera
See below for some pictures from the Cinco De Mayo Mini-foray in Richfield.
My son Phil and I take a couple of backpacking trips every year and, usually, we section hike portions of the AT. This year we were somewhat limited on time (long weekend) and decided to hike the gorgeous 30 mile West Rim Trail between Ansonia and Blackwell, PA. This hike has been labelled the “Grand Canyon of the East” and the “Best Hike in Pennsylvania”. I’ve hiked quite a few trails in central and western PA including Minister Creek, North Country Trail, Laurel Highlands, Old Loggers Trail, Black Moshannon, Black Forest trail, Ricketts Glen and Michaux State Forest on the AT near the PA/ Maryland border. The West Rim Trail stands out for its natural beauty and 1,000 foot scenic vistas above the Pine Creek gorge. Hiking in PA is not for everyone as it is very rocky and challenging on your feet. On one of our AT hikes, we met a through hiker that mentioned that if she ever hiked the AT again she would fly over Pennsylvania. Sadly, Ohio doesn’t have a single backpacking trail I can recommend as I would describe them as mostly bulldozer trails that are not worth your time (Wayne National Forest, Zaleski State Forest). At any rate, we hiked the West Rim Trail under some very wet conditions and there was a profusion of pristine mushrooms everywhere we stepped. I’m only sorry I didn’t bring some olive oil and a lightweight frying pan. See below for a sampling of our experience.
For a 3D PhotoSphere of one of the scenic overlooks follow the link below. Once it loads just click on the image and you can scroll/pan around- Jerry Pepera
I thought I would share this very handy beginners key for the Boletes. It was given to me by Ernst Both some years ago and is organized in a clear logical way which I find to be very useful. – Jerry
The summer foray at the Zaleski ODNR complex was a great success in spite of the lack of moisture and very hot and humid weather. See below for some pictures from the event. Look for a complete write-up in the next edition of the newsletter. – Jerry
Where Can I Hunt Mushrooms?
This is the third most common question that we at the Ohio Mushroom Society receive, right after “What kind of mushroom is this?” and “Can I eat it?”. These are all very good questions, but often the answers are not simple.
Regarding foraging places, OMS volunteers work very hard to establish good relationships with public and private landholding institutions, and private landowners. Some of these relationships take years to mature to the point where we are allowed to conduct a one-time, or even periodic forays, in exchange for the knowledge of species diversity that the landowners gain regarding their properties. This trust can be instantly broken by rogue individuals using these properties as their “own” mushroom spot.
Imagine a motorist with a flat tire stuck in front of your house. Decent human being that you are, you ask if you can help. They have a spare, but no jack and no tools in the trunk. Of course, you open your garage and allow them to borrow yours. Now, how would you feel the next time you are barbecuing in the back yard, hear clanging and rustling in your garage, and after investigating, see the same individual helping themself to your tools to change their oil?!
So, Rule Number One of mushroom hunting is NO POACHING. Please forage ONLY on properties where you currently have permission.
If you decide to take a risk and poach anyway, you DO NOT have permission from the Ohio Mushroom Society. You DO NOT “know” any of our board members, or previous foray hosts. Can you believe that a couple individuals, when confronted on private property, actually had the nerve to name-drop on an innocent gentleman who gave his personal time to provide an interesting and informative cultivation program to our members?! This type of behavior will get you banned from the OMS.
What’s the harm? There’s plenty for everyone!! I’m not cutting down the “tree”, just harvesting some “fruit”. If you are convinced that your actions are sustainable and that your activities do no harm, then do what we do and approach the landowner honestly and ask for permission. Provide your reasoning. Give them your name and contact information, and sign a waiver if asked.
So where can you hunt mushrooms without asking first? In Ohio, the answers are our State Forests (“State Forest” is part of the property name), the Wayne National Forest, and our State Wildlife Management Areas (“WMA” is part of the property name).
Where can you likely hunt, with advance permission? Our Ohio State Parks (many, but not all, allow hunting, foraging for mushrooms, berry picking, etc.); your local city park; and cemeteries (the older and more derelict the better!). Simply call first.
Collecting mushrooms and other living things is FORBIDDEN in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park; regional park districts (such as Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Summit MetroParks, Geauga Park District, etc.); Ohio State Nature Preserves (“Nature Preserve” is part of the property name); private residential camps and retreat centers (such as Camp Asbury and Boy Scout/Girl Scout camps), private Arboreta (Holden, Dawes, etc.); and University properties (such as Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms).
Why does it have to be this way? Ohio is 44th in the nation with just 4.2 percent of our land in the public domain; 95.8 percent is all private property. Public land includes highway right-of-ways! So our tiny public properties hosting millions of visitors each year can’t possibly sustain all of our wants for free food, free landscaping rocks, free pets, or free flowers. And private landowners have a right to maintain the resources on their properties for themselves or their paying guests/clients/students. They have a right to protect themselves from lawsuits by people falling down their hillside, or drowning in their lakes.
So please, ask first. Help us keep OMS a respected organization. When we all act to keep our actions sustainable, we will continue to be welcomed. Thanks!!
by Debra Shankland, OMS president
16 April 2018
For the mycophagists among us… just wanted to share my new favorite method of preparing mushrooms – roasted! It’s incredibly easy and can be used as the basis for side dishes or even the main part of a vegetarian meal. This method can be used with either whole or sliced mushrooms, but using whole or large chunks really looks beautiful, and the end result is that you have a big meaty chunk of mushroom that is crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. Most fleshy mushrooms are suitable for this. My favorites are maitake, oyster, and shitake, but even store bought cremini or white buttons work very well. You can even use dried and rehydrated mushrooms so you can enjoy this with your stash from the fall.
The basic recipe is to preheat the oven to between 400 and 450 degrees, and I like to also preheat the pan at the same time. Use a large rimmed baking pan such as a jellyroll style pan or large cast iron skillet. Cut the mushrooms to desired size or leave whole. Mix about 1.5 lbs of mushrooms with ¼ cup of olive oil or clarified butter in a bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Take heated pan out of the oven, dump in the mixture, arrange pieces is a single layer, and pop back into the oven. Total roasting time is 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Stir or flip the mushrooms about half way through cooking to get both sides crispy. If the mushrooms are giving off a lot of liquid, you can pour off the excess and return the pan to the oven to finish. Save the cooking liquid for another use, it’s really flavorful.
Seasoning variation are endless. Thyme and rosemary are my favorite herbs to add to the mushrooms as they roast. Chives and parsley are best if sprinkled on top after cooking. If you want to use garlic, either use whole peeled cloves from the beginning, or add chopped garlic at the half way point so the pieces don’t get burned and bitter. Smoked salt adds another layer of dimension to the dish. Serve as is, or even top with sour cream or a fried egg.
True to my promise form the fall foray, I would like to share with everyone the recipe for Phyllis Grimm’s “The Old Woodsman’s Oyster Mushroom and Onion Soup.” This is a mushroomy version of French onion soup, and is a special treat if topped with a slice of toasted French bread and cheese, then browned under the broiler.
The Old Woodsman’s Oyster Mushroom and Onion Soup
- 3 onions sliced and halved.
- 4 T butter or margarine
- 4 cups beef consume or well-seasoned vegetable broth
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups dried oyster or maitake mushrooms (or others)
Melt butter in a stock pot. Add onions and cook on medium for 30 minutes or until they are tender and starting to caramelize. Stir occasionally. Add mushrooms, broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes making sure mushrooms are completely tender.
Makes about 6 one cup servings.
There you have it. This is extremely adaptable, and can be up scaled for a crowd. Using a really flavorful broth or stock is key. At the foray, I used the fresh maitake Walt had given me a few days before, and roasted it as described above before adding to the soup.
Hope these ideas help keep you warm until summer.
By Debra Shankland
As 2016 careens out of control toward a skidding stop, I’m drawn to the peaceful memories in my mind of golden afternoons in the woods, inhaling the scent of leaves and fungi. I recall conversations that caused me to laugh out loud as I foraged with friends-seen-far-too-little.
There was also the time when sunlight baked the woods, and it seemed the only moisture around was beading up on my forehead. Each mushroom found that day was a little miracle, confirmation of nature’s persistence and adaptation to microhabitats.
I invite you to recall your own fun adventures pursuing whatever it is that attracts you to
studying and enjoying mushrooms, and give a thought to how you’d like to manifest that
enjoyment in the new year. I hope that you choose to continue your Ohio Mushroom Society membership. Except for Life Members, everyone’s membership expires on December 31, so why not renew today?
Also, your all-volunteer board members will be convening in February to plan this year’s forays and initiatives. Do you have ideas for us? Places that you think would be good foray locations? Guest speakers you’d like us to consider? Would you like to write a far better blog than this one (easy for you, I’m certain!)? Contact us by by simply hitting “Contact” on the black navigation bar on this page. We’d love to hear from you and have your input!
I wish you a fungi-filled New Year!
By Martha Bishop
It’s May, and in southeastern Ohio the spring wildflower and morel season has progressed at an unusual pace. Flowers that were in bloom May 1 last year, bloomed on April 1 this year. Although I heard reports of a few early morels, most in this area were found in mid to late April despite the 80 degree daytime temperatures. It seemed there was a window of a day or two after a rain before the unseasonal heat dried out the mushrooms where they stood. So perhaps, like me, you haven’t had much luck finding mushrooms in good condition so far this season. And you may be asking yourself what’s next. Do not be discouraged!
For those in the know about mushrooms, the great times for finding mushrooms are still ahead!
Although morels are among the mushrooms that are relatively easy to identify, they represent only a few different species. As summer and fall progress, there will be hundreds of other species popping up in our fields and forests.
If you have not learned to recognize many different species, now is the time to join your local mushroom society. Whether your interest in mushrooms is in photography, art, dyeing fibers, scientific study, love of nature, or collecting edibles, you can learn more from those who share your interests in the Ohio Mushroom Society. And don’t forget that registration for the North American Mycological Association fall foray will open in May. This meeting will be in Virginia this year (close enough for Ohioans to carpool.) In my mind, clearly the best way to learn to recognize new species is to have someone who knows them show them to you and explain how they know. Many of our modern field guides to mushrooms have excellent pictures, and some have good keys. But I would not presume to be certain of a mushroom identification (especially certain enough to consume a mushroom) without a spore print and confirmation from an experienced mushroom identifier.
When you do find mushrooms in good condition this year, following a few simple guidelines will help to promote the growth of mushrooms in years to come.
- Collect your specimens carefully. Be sure to unearth the whole specimen so that you can see all of its features, but don’t dig around the mushroom any more than is necessary. Remember that the underground (or inside wood and other substrates) mycelium is the main part of the mushroom that persists from year to year. Also be careful not to trample or otherwise disturb the mycelium unnecessarily.
- Take pictures and notes about the mushrooms in their natural state.
- Take note of other members of the ecology. It is important to know what other organisms share the mushrooms’ habitat. This can help you learn more about how the mushrooms live, and can help you to identify them.
- Don’t collect all of the specimens at a site. Leave some to spread spores and to feed other members of the natural community. Don’t collect more than you will actually use.
- Use a basket or other sturdy container for collection so that the mushrooms will not be crushed. Use paper bags (or waxed paper) to separate different species.
- Make a spore print for each species, and refrigerate the rest of the mushrooms until you are ready to identify and use them.
- Place any parts left over back in the natural environment. Try to put them in an environment similar to the one where you found them.
That said, I hope to see you at the upcoming Summer Foray at Ohio University! Last year we had an amazing number and diversity of mushrooms here.
Please see details by clicking the Events tab at the top of the page, and by clicking on the newsletter link for May/June 2016 to the right under recent posts.
By Walt Sturgeon
Well, the season can last into September and may start in June but July is usually the best month to search out most of these popular edibles. Searching can be very easy as some species are really common.
Cantharellus is the genus of true chanterelles but this article will include a Craterellus species as well. Cantharellus species in Ohio are firm and solid. They are convex to slightly funnel shaped. They lack sharp edged gills on their underside and instead have blunt edge “gills” or may be wrinkled to almost smooth. The most famous species is Cantharellus cibarius which is the name used in most field guides. Well, as with many mushrooms there turn out to be several species hiding under this name. The true Cantharellus cibarius is thought not to occur in North America. Matthew Foltz used DNA sequencing to identify three separate but similar cibarius-like species growing within 65 feet of one another in Wisconsin. There are no doubt more out there waiting to be named. No doubt all have been consumed and enjoyed by many. It may turn out that some have better flavor than others but until we know who’s who and what’s what, that is a question for another day. So let’s consider them all as the Golden Chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius complex. Colors range from egg yolk yellow to orange to salmon or pinkish. Size varies but fist sized is about right, give or take an inch or two. It has blunt edged gill like ridges on the underside. All chanterelles are thought to be mycorrhizal, that is symbiotic with trees or shrubs. So cultivating these tasty morsels has not been done successfully yet. In Ohio the most common host tree for Golden Chanterelles is hemlock. But the complex is also known to occur with beech, spruce and other trees. Like many other chanterelles, you may detect a fruity odor suggesting that of apricots. All Chanterelles tend to grow singly, in a scattered or gregarious manner. Clusters of more than two are rare. See Jack O Lanterns below.
Much more common in Ohio is the Smooth Chanterelle which can often be found in large numbers in our hardwood forests. They are also abundant in lawn areas under oaks. As the name implies this species has a smooth to wrinkled underside. Some consider this species inferior to the Golden Chanterelle. I disagree. Both have the same odor and taste in my opinion. The Golden and Smooth Chanterelles are the target of most Chanterelle hunters. They are abundant and their colors and size make them easy to find. There is one problem though. Peak fruiting usually occurs in July or August. There are no frosts then to deter insects so protein in the form of fly larvae is often an issue. Toleration of these mini protein additions varies from person to person. Cutting the stem near the cap or cutting through the cap will reveal pin holes/tunnels which are an indication of the amount of infestation. I have never heard of the taste being affected or of anyone being sickened by these little pests.
They are versatile treats and can be simply stewed, fried or candied or pickled or used to flavor ice cream or vodka.
Smaller Chanterelles such the reddish Cinnabar Chanterelle and the brownish yellow Appalachian Chanterelle are edible but more effort is required to find enough for a decent side dish. Both of these species fruit under oak and beech at the same time as the larger Chanterelles. A tiny Chanterelle is Cantharellus minor. It would take many to make mouthful.
The thin fleshed Black Trumpet, Craterellus fallax is a really flavorful species. It usually grows in association with oaks and is another summer species. Its underside is not gill-like .The gray to tan colors make it hard to see unless it is found in moss which is a common substrate. In my opinion, this is one of the best summer edibles. It has a salmon colored spore color which can sometimes be observed on the underside. A white spored look alike is the edible Craterellus cornucopioides. If you find a black trumpet look alike with gill-like ridges you have Cantharellus cinereus. It is edible but bitter.
One popular chanterelle fruits later in the season, usually in September and October. The Yellow Foot or Winter Chanterelle prefers mossy boggy woods under hemlock. It is rather thin fleshed. It has yellowish brown to blackish brown caps. The underside has forking false gills which range from yellowish to grayish brown to violaceous. The stem is brownish to yellowish, becoming paler at the base. Its flavor is mild, a bit too subtle for my taste. But as the saying goes “There is no accounting for taste”. Try it. You might like it. OMS has had forays in SE Ohio where this has been the target species.
In closing there are two common possible lookalikes. Most serious is the orange Jack o Lantern, Ompahalotus illudens. It grows on wood (sometimes buried), is usually larger and typically grows in large clusters. It has sharp edged gills. Its gills are bioluminescent. The False Chanterelle is variously considered an inferior edible to slightly toxic mushroom. It has sharp edged gills and prefers woody humus. Its colors range from yellow to intense orange to brownish. It does not have a fruity odor.