Fungi Feasts

Mushrooms gone wild


What: Wild Mushroom Show

When: 12 pm Sat., Oct. 21

Where: Bloedel Donovan, 2214 Electric Ave.

Cost: $3-$5


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I typically hear from fungi enthusiast Erin Moore when the days have shortened, the nights have cooled and seasonal rain has come to the Pacific Northwest. That’s when the longtime Northwest Mushroomers Association member reaches out to remind me about the club’s annual Wild Mushroom Show, and when I respond by taking full advantage of her expertise.

This year, Moore suggested a focus on the edible elements of toadstools, and being someone who would willingly choose to eat creamed chanterelles on toast rather than the finest caviar, I concurred.

“Some mushrooms, like chanterelles, can only be wildcrafted,” Moore points out. “Other delicious edibles, like oyster mushrooms, are popularly cultivated; Cascadia Mushrooms is our local grower and a wonderful source for mushrooms for the table (they also source out wild-collected chanterelles and lobster mushrooms).

“Cultivated fungi are grown year-round—you never have to be without mushrooms, you don’t have to arm-wrestle a fellow collector, and you know for sure these cultivated mushrooms are all safe and excellent edibles.”

Those who choose to source their spore samples from forest floors or backyard hidey-holes, however, need to be on the lookout for a number of things before putting even one bite in their mouths. Moore notes the mycelial strands in the substrate that make up the body of mushrooms are “efficient” at accumulating metals, nutrients and possible toxins, so it’s best to collect from clean, wild areas.

Other common-sense measures to take to ensure you’re not cooking up a calamity are to be cautious when sampling a particular mushroom for the first time by eating only a small amount, as response to mushrooms will vary.

“A few mushrooms are quite deadly,” Moore also cautions. “Amanita phalloides now occurs in our area (brought in on the roots of tree cultivars) and is reputed to be delicious, so there is no warning as the deadly Amanita toxins work away, destroying your liver and kidneys.

“If collected while foraying, eat only known edible mushrooms that you are sure about,” she adds. “For example, the shaggy parasol is a popular edible mushroom that pops up this time of year locally, but it has some (generally much smaller) deadly lookalikes. Can you name your mushroom with authority? If not, leave it be.”

Because part of the Wild Mushroom Show is helping people figure out what they’re looking for or have already collected, those who attend the Sun., Oct. 22 event at Bloedel Donovan can bring shrooms along for identification by experts, as well as peruse the displays of fungi gathered and labeled by club members who have collected them locally.

A “touch and feel” table, identification books, cultivation kits, art, hourly presentations, creative projects for kids and artwork will also be part of the afternoon’s activities.

Additionally, Mushroomers members like Jack Waytz—someone Moore calls a “fungivore, collector and chef supreme”—will be on hand to offer edible samples and talk more about mushroom identification and food-related facts.

“Edible mushrooms often have textures that can be satisfying as meat substitutes,” Moore says. “And all you’ve done is eat the fruiting body, not murdered the whole organism!”

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