Mushrooms Everywhere!

Wild mushrooms are late in coming this year, but they are making up for lost time by coming out in abundance. Could be the hot, dry summer we had that slowed them down. Now the cool, damp September just past has set everything right again. October promises to be a time of bountiful harvest.

This year I am captivated by the White Matsutake. Five years ago I noticed this bold, pale mushroom emerging bountifully under the pines in my front yard. I brought a few inside to see if I could figure out what they were. Four hours of searching through five mushroom identification books did not solve the riddle of this mushroom.

You see, there are probably 10,000 varieties of mushroom in the world, and my books only talk about 1,000 or so. Mushroom identification books have a very detailed and systematic method for sorting out one mushroom from the next. But when I get lost along the path, it leads to a dead end. So I start over again. I never did come to a positive conclusion about this big beautiful mushroom, so I set it back into the forest instead of into the soup.

Four years ago, fellow mushroom enthusiast Sue was visiting at just the right time. Her eyes lit up when she saw these beauties nestled under the pines. She had not seen them in the north before, but she knew what they were.

Still, she consulted my five identification books, along with one or two of her own. And YES! The highly prized White Matsutake grows right in my front yard! Of course, we brushed off the duff and celebrated with one very fine mushroom dinner that night.

Now I eagerly await their arrival every autumn. The first one appeared in the middle of September. Four more popped up a few days later. It rained some more, and more matsutakes manifested. And they are coming up still!

So far this year, I’ve picked more than 50 of these very large, and very delicious mushrooms. We’ve roasted them on the barbeque, we sliced them thinly and cooked them on top of rice. We’ve dried them by the bushel, and shared them with friends. Baskets full of matsutakes fill half the fridge. And still, I’m looking for more! Mania, I think, is the name of my affliction. And there is no sign of it fading away any time soon. Especially since the Honey Mushrooms are just beginning to make their appearance…

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