The mushrooms are out as foraging kicks into high gear at Leafhopper Farm! Though we are unable to find chanterelles on the farm property at this time, a stone’s throw away in nearby woodlands, the golden treasures of Fall abound. On a small “fisherman’s path” around a small pond, Bernard and I came upon some welcome wild edible mushrooms. Our local species of Chanterelles is C. formosus, a strain found in The Pacific Northwest, specifically 40-60 year old stands of Douglas fir and western hemlock. A lot of our tree farms around The Cascades fit these growing conditions perfectly, so you are likely to find chanterelles in the woods if you go looking at the right time of year. When?
Fall, when it cools down, after rains begin soaking in and you can squeeze water from moss. You can spot them from logging roads, but you’ll find more wandering in a serpentine pattern through the woods where things are mossy and/or deep in hemlock/fir needles. The picture above is a perfect example with a good flush of chanterelles along the forest floor. There’s also a slope, near water, and this flush ran towards the water on the lower part of the hill. We were walking in a 50-60 year old managed woodland on state land. It was a sunny day after a few days of rain and great morning mists that did not burn off till noon. This is the time to start mushroom hunting.
While looking for chanterelles, we also found many other wonderful mushroom friends, taking time to note species verity and abundance as we foraged. There were jelly fungi, a lot of boletes, russulas, and some earth stars pictured above. In taking note of other species, we could hone our awareness as to other areas where these companion varieties were growing which might be a place chanterelles might also fruit later in the season. I have not found a lot of research on mushroom companion fungi, and would like to pay closer attention to fungi neighborhoods.
When we brought our harvest home, I took a moment to clean them (brushing off any needles or dirt still attached, then pulled them apart gently into strips for the dehydrator. They are in the machine now being preserved for our enjoyment in the coming cold months. Chanterelles are great fresh or dried in soups, as additions to any stir-fry, paired with any savory dish you please, but most enjoyed by me with wild venison and some lightly steamed kale from the garden. Good luck hunting this season, and don’t hesitate to buy wild harvested chanterelles from your local grocer- make sure they were locally harvested. Enjoy your fungi feast!