As soon as we start getting any rain in West Sonoma, we are anxious to see mushrooms growing.
A fair amount of rain is needed to saturate into the very dry ground after months of summer warmth. This has been a great season so far. A few of the recent years the drought has made a huge impact with little mushrooms to be found or picked.
This Fall started well with the porcini's. This is a meaty mushroom and a favorite to many. I find them not as versatile.
After the Porcini season is up and running, we start looking for black trumpets. I find these easy to locate as they are often on the sides of roads and trails and don't take as much scouring the ground. Plus they often appear in beautiful bouquets and large mass. These are wonderful on pizza with just a little herb's and cheese. The less you add the more of the trumpet flavor there is. One of my favorites!
Harder to find and so delicate, the belly button hedgehog's. Another beautiful mushroom with flavor that should not be masked. Great in risotto. Another favorite of mine!!!
The more famous big brother, the Chanterelles. We have had some incredible harvests of white and less of gold. They can grow big enough to a pound in weight. Years passed that we hardly found any, but this 2016 Winter has been very solid so far.
Once you've recovered from the excitement of finding all these wonderful mushrooms, the hard part comes. Cleaning is a chore. To make it easier, you should remove as much dirt, foliage and leaves as you can while out in the forest. Keep Hedgehogs separate as the teeth are difficult to get dirt out of.
For the black trumpets, we use a salad spinner, soak and spin a few times.
And the best part really is the eating enjoyment but, you need a good chef and worthy recipes.
Risotto's, Lasagna, pizza and potatoes are all perfect vessels to allow the delicate flavors to shine.
Here are a couple
Our Annual mushroom Foray for our wine club is extremely popular, selling out months in advance.
The group has always enjoyed the camaraderie of the hunt as much as the lunch, wine and of course the mushrooms.
Happy hunting, cooking and enjoying.