Friday, July 10, 2015

Rain for weeks grows BIG mushrooms & how to forage/identify Chanterelle mushrooms

I feel very fortunate to be in part of the US that is receiving ample rainfall. In parts of the country, such as California, are experiencing drought for months. On June 1st,  urban water users in California, had to abide by the state's first ever mandatory water restrictions, by reducing consumption to 25 percent. 
Even farmers found it more beneficial to start selling their water reserves instead of growing food! 
Much of the food that is sold in the grocery store comes from California, and this could really hurt our country's food supply. This is just another reason we, the people, should take food into our own hands--strive to make the home garden the primary food source, forage wild edibles, and spread the seeds of fruit around the world. 

Of course the persistent rainfall, here in Kentucky, is assisting in the growth of the squashes and melons. Below are photos of recent garden harvests, including recent photos of the growth of birdhouse gourds, squashes, and melons.

7/6/2015 garden harvest

This rainfall has also prompted the growth of many mushroom varieties, such as boletes and chanterelles. We harvested chanterelles today from the woods in two different locations, along with a gallon of blackberries. 

This mushroom, seen below, was incredibly impressive for its size. It was definitely a bolete, but we were unsure of the variety. We concluded that it was the Bitter bolete, which is classified as poisonous. 

Chanterelle mushrooms are quite distinctive, even compared to their look-alike, the Jack-o lantern and false chanterelle. For example, chanterelle mushrooms grow individually spread out over a large patch of ground, whereas jack-o lanterns grow clustered. Chanterelles smell pleasantly fragrant like apricots, as many have suggested. The cap is convex and usually vase shaped. The gills are referred to as false gills because they appear to have lumpy folds instead of true gills. Chanterelles grow amongst the ground floor around oak trees and conifers. I find chanterelles growing in people's yards mostly, and along the edge of the woods. 
Where you know there is a grove of pines during the months of July and August, you will also find Chanterelle mushrooms. Another way to ensure you have collected Chanterelles, is by the spore print. Lay a mushroom facing down on a white sheet of paper, and within several hours you'll notice a pink spore print.

Chanterelle mushroom forage #1, July 9th 2015

For three weeks, James and I have dedicated much of our time to foraging berries around the yard and in the woods. With the extra berries we have started to make jelly. So far we have stored over 20 jars of jelly in the fridge. I hope to sell many of these at $4-5 for each half pint. When making the jelly, I strain the seeds from the blackberries so that I can throw the seed out for growing plants.

July 9th chanterelle forage #2
July 10th 2015 chanterelle forage

We are still unsure what these pink blackberries are called, but we are picking them to save for seed. I may stick each individual berry into a pot of soil.

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