Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Foraging: Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

I have fond memories of my Aunt (Tante) teaching me how to make hunter sauce with mushrooms (Jager Pilzsoße). She used fresh Chanterelles, but what I gleaned at the time, was the beauty behind foraging for mushrooms and the gift of learning how to cook them!

One in particular that I find quite often this time of year are:  Shaggy Mane (Corprinus comatus) also known as a Shaggy Ink Cap. One of my colleagues pointed them out to me many years ago and I am very thankful for that introduction.


This is the best way to forage. Garnering knowledge and true ID of the mushrooms before picking them.  There have been so many cases of folks eating wild mushrooms and becoming very ill. So I too will warn you - make sure your first go at identifying mushrooms is done with someone who can positively inspect them. You need vast knowledge of IDing the specimens before you ever consume them. 

I'm blessed to have a job where sometimes I just have to look down to find mushrooms. They truly "pop-up" out of no-where.  Foraging for them can come quite easily.

The best time to find Shaggy Mane's are in autumn. Especially after a wet bought and during a cool weather change.


These were in a grassy area, surrounded by trees. I usually find them in groupings. The odd one, here and there, but generally - when you see one, you see a bunch.

They stand straight up and range in sizes.

One of their identifiable features is white to brown flakey skin - eyelash flakes that curl upwards.


Another way to determine that they are the edible kind, is finding older mushrooms that bear the blackening "ink"staining at the base of the cap.  Shaggy Mane's almost look as though they are melting into tar.

Below, I have taken a sequence of photos showing the progression of inking that takes place.
 Here the cap is nearly separated from the stipe (stem). Think of an umbrella about to open.
Then the base starts to blacken at the very bottom of the cap.

The appearance of melting takes place, as the mushroom starts to deteriorate.

Oozing black ink begins to almost drip.

Shaggy Mane's have no shelf life. It's best to eat them as soon as you pick them. They don't store well.  When foraging, gently place them in a container lined with paper towel and cook within a few hours.


Plenty - just enough for a dinner is all I need.


Because these are from an urban environment, I wash them. Yes, I know, I too have read many cook books that state washing mushrooms is a no no. But these were not in the wild. I'm not going to take any risks when collecting from an urban landscape.  The key is: as soon as they are clean I dry them with paper towel. Mushrooms must be completely dry to fry well.


I prefer simple sautéing with butter and garlic.  One trick: my Tante taught me that if you want fried mushrooms with a crispy edge....NEVER let them touch each other.  Give them space in the frying pan.

Delicious!

Well worth the effort.

Please Note:  as you forage, DON'T take all the mushrooms. Leave several behind to start the life cycle over. Leaving some behind will allow spores to spread and inoculate the ground for next year. Mushrooms are the earth's life-giving force of decay and renewal. Depleting them for the frying pan doesn't help one bit. You deplete the natural ecosystem process and prevent ever getting a second chance to forage again.

For better ID info on Shaggy Mane mushrooms:  Mushroom Collecting Website

Hope you find some!

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