It`s that time of year again up here in the Lake district. Unfortunately for the southerners, great chefs like the Legendary Simon Hulsone stuck down on the south coast in Torquay they`re having a very poor time of it ( shame Simon ) but up here in the Lake district….its full gear ahead.So August / september / October , they`re the best months for the wild fungi , basically before the first frosts kill off the surface spores and life shuts down for the winter months.I went out on a Sunday morning walk in the western lakes and it`s a very good year for the fungi this year.As a rule of thumb , i pick nothing unless i`m 100% positive on the ID , its just not worth the stomach upsets…or risking the eternal sleep , and to be brutally honest, those mushrooms are out there…in very public areas.So unless you`re looking for a set of new kidneys or a quick way out then just stick to the ones that everyone uses and cannot be mistaken for anything else.Ill update this post as we progress through Autumn and i get a few more specimens to display.
The orange coloured mushroom is the Chanterelle / Girolle , both names for the same mushroom.Highly prized , fantastic flavour , smells of Apricots , grows under beech , pine and chestnut trees , mossy banks and amongst leaf litter.It`s amazing with scrambled eggs ,butter and cream on toast….wow….and very easy to identify.
The Mushroom below is the Cep , also knows as the Penny bun and the legendary Porcini…people kill for this mushroom ( Like Simon hulstone would right now ) , it`s very highly prized amongst gourmets.I find that its best dried and used in chicken / cream dishes , pasta , risottos.Young specimens like the one below ( its about a day or two old ) can be sliced and eaten raw…they`re beautiful.
This one is just a foragers dream…perfect in every way , heavy , worm free , totally solid flesh.
This is a specimen of the same mushroom as above…but its over a week old , huge , heavy and usually full of worms in the stalk and cap.However they can still be used as they can be dried and stored in jars….once again , Ceps hold their best flavour once theyre dried.
Here`s a typical example of a hiding place , it`s the Cep mushroom above but tucked away in grass in the roots of the tree.Just twist , pull and trim off the soil , slice , dry on newspapers in the airing cupboard and store in jars.
Look and weep ha ha ….well hey , it`s not normally like this , it was a freak and very warm September and as a result…..WOW. I counted 42 under the one tree.
This mushroom is a Pine mushroom , for obvious reasons , it grows under pine trees.It is better knows as a Saffron Milk cap and also on the list of prized edible mushrooms.
As you can see below , the Saffron milk cap oozes a saffron / orange milk out , it actually stains the fingers…dont worry , its all edible.
This is a close relation of the saffron milk cap.This mushroom below is the Shaggy / or wooly milk cap.Again , very edible….and no comments about the hairdressers car please.
An easy way to identify the milk caps is to snap a piece off , it will start to ooze a milky substance within seconds.
These mushrooms were everywhere this morning , i didnt collect them as i only had one bag.They`re called “Slippery Jacks” , they grow on pine grounds on short to medium grass.The tops of the mushroom are all slimy and slippery , hence the name.Apparently they are fantastic in soups and stews after the slippery top has been peeled off or wiped down.
These were my prize for this morning…Hedgehog mushrooms , theyre pale orange in colour and this is what they look like underneath…lots of tiny spines which cant be mistaken for anything else.They grow in mossy woodland and i normally find them under birch trees.They grow to maturity over a few weeks and are fantastic pickled in vinegar and olive oil ( as the ones below are going to be ).The older specimens have longer spines which can simply be rubbed off.
Another gourmet treat – Brown birch mushrooms or Birch Bolete fungi.The specimens below…two little babies are about a day old , they probably came up overnight.Beautiful cooked fresh and just as good dried.Silver birch woods are very good for these mushrooms.
This is a specimen of the above Birch mushroom which is roughly 2 days old.
And from another angle you can see the spongy tissue underneath the cap.
Just an average view from my mushroom grounds…fantastic isnt it ?
I dont know what this one is so i didnt pick it…. i just took a photo as it was so beautiful in the morning sunshine.
Here`s a little fungi , prized by gourmets and it`s one of those that you cant really mistake with anything else due to its vivid colour.Its the Purple Mousseron or Amethyst Deceiver.It isn`t really anything to write home about when it comes to flavour but it`s one of those mushrooms that look fantastic on a plate of posh food.It grows in abundance in late summer on mossy ground.Try it raw in salads or cooked in stews.
Here`s one that i really couldn`t resist taking a pic of….due to my boyish n rude blokey mind.It`s the common Stinkhorn mushroom ( Phallus Impudicus ).It smells of rotting human flesh , totally inedible ….but guaranteed to raise a smile with the guys.
Ahaaaaaa , this is the one the fairys and elves like to sit upon…Its the legendary Fly Agaric mushroom….Very toxic , also induces coma like symptoms so please don`t touch.It`s also Highly Hallucinogenic so don`t sample any of it or you`ll be flying home.The one below is only a day old.You can see mum in the background….and aunties and uncles in the photo below.
Meet the whole Fly Agaric Family.