Friday, January 29, 2016

KREM 2: Growing Mushrooms From Windstorm Downed Trees

If you are unfamiliar with my venture to grow mushrooms from the downed trees of the windstorm, KREM 2 just did a story about it. If you happen to still have a downed tree or perhaps wood that you need to get rid of, you can contact me about removal. Here's the catch. Pine is useless. Fir is useless. If you have spruce or a deciduous tree that needs to be cut up, I can probably help. If you have already cut to firewood length, unfortunately I cannot use. I can only use rounds of certain length (3-4 ft) and specific diameter (depending on variety of tree.) So, if this describes you, a friend or family, please let me know. My goal is to put as many of these downed trees into local food production as I can. This will be a bit of a long-term project. I don't expect to be harvesting mushrooms from these logs for probably another 18 months. Stay tuned for updates, including log inoculation this early spring.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Finding Morels at the Burn Sites

The wildfires of last summer have left mushroom pickers with an abundance of land on which to hunt for morels. If you are thinking of looking for morels at the burn sites this Spring, but aren't sure where to start, the information here is designed to help you get going.

***Please note that the rules for gathering morels will vary from state-to-state and from forest-to-forest. You will need to consult your local forest ranger district for details. This is definitely in your best interest. Often times the forest rangers will have maps on hand with directions to exact places with mushroom activity. They are there to help, take advantage.***

The first thing you will want to do is identify a potential burn site. Here is the website for all active and non-active wildfires.

Use the filters to narrow your search to the state you desire. Also be sure to select "non-active" as the status and select an appropriate number of days for the max range. Once your filters are set, a list of all wildfires will be displayed. Click on any of the incidents for more information, including fire perimeter road maps. Make sure that this is a timber fire, not brush or grass. Do this by checking the 'fuels involved' portion of the incident page. For best results, the bigger the fire the better. 5,000 acres is generally a good minimum. 

Click on the 'maps' tab of the incident to find fire perimeter maps, road closure maps, and much more. Here is a fire permiter map from the Grizzly Bear Complex in the Umatilla National Forest.  
Morels fruit in the Spring only. The exact time will depend on your location, elevation, and definitely the weather conditions. Here in eastern Washington, the harvest period is generally from April through May in the lowlands, and through June or longer in the mountains and higher elevations. Please note, these are hasty generalizations. Last year's earliest local morels came in the final days of March. Here is a fun website you can reference to find where people are currently finding wild mushrooms, especially morels in the Spring. 

Here is a picture of what potential burn morel habitat looks like. Note the complete lack of greenery. When morels are fruiting, there will be small spots and patches of greens like miner's lettuce, sheep sorrel (both edible), and others.
Morels at burn sites can be fairly easy to spot, like this multi-headed specimen. Clusters like this are very common at productive burn sites.
Burn morels, morchella conica, are typically smaller than other varieties. This picture shows a couple of larger burn morel specimens.

And some small specimens.
From Gourmet Foragables: How to find and cook with wild edibles Remember to check the burn holes, especially at highly picked over locations. This video shows where you can often find the biggest mushrooms.

With a little bit of luck and and a little bit of hiking, hopefully you will be able to fill your mushroom bag very quickly. Good luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

3rd Annual FOREST-to-PLATE Spring Event

It's finally here! It's the 3rd annual Spring FOREST-to-PLATE Event, sign up today! Learn how to identify wild mushrooms and other edibles in their native setting. We will be hiking through the woods in search of morels, coral mushrooms, nettles, fiddleheads, miner's lettuce, cattail shoots and more.

Sign up for the foray portion of the event at the following link:

This year's dinner event is hosted by The Wandering Table. The 10 course dinner features items found on the foray in addition to regional wild game, Townshend Cellars wine paring, truffles, and more.

Seating for the foray and the dinner are both limited, make your reservations today!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cooking with Ramps

Ramps, allium tricoccum, are a wild leek that are wonderfully pungent and flavorful, like an intense cross between garlic, leeks, and onions
Here's a link to 22 amazing ramp recipes with pictures for each dish. I will be trying #9 and #19 FOR SURE!

KREM2 On Your Side: Gourmet Foraging Grows in Local Popularity

I received an email from Jenica Villamor at KREM 2 news a few weeks ago. She got my contact info from Ryan Stoy, executive chef and owner of The Wandering Table. She wanted do a story on the growing trend of local restaurants using foraged goods. I took her to a local morel spot to find mushrooms and conduct the interview. Here's the link:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Nettle and Wild Onion Soup

At long last, Spring has arrived and the first wild greens of the season have hit the farmers market. Here is a great way to use your nettles and wild onions. I always tell people, sincerely, that you just plain "feel better" after eating a nice, hearty bowl of nettle soup. In fact, nettles have more protein than ANY other vegetable. So here we go, this one is pretty simple.

One bunch of wild onions, flowers removed (optional) for garnish
Roughly one pound fresh nettles
2 chopped celery stalks
8 cups vegetable broth
3 chopped medium-sized potatoes

creme fraiche (optional) for garnish

Cook the potatoes and onions in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. Next, add the celery and cook for an additional 15 minutes at a low boil. Remove the potatoes and onions from the broth and puree until creamy. Use the broth to boil the nettles for 3 minutes. Remove and puree until smooth. Return all the pureed ingredients to your pot, add salt to taste. Add water to thin as needed. Can be served hot or cold, garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and a few onion flowers.