The mushroom season is drawing to a close for me. I live in Donegal, North West Ireland – once November is upon me the foraging bounties turn into great walks & rambles through forests with very little wild mushrooms in my basket. The drop in temperature appears to put pay to the mushroom bounty.
I have been collecting/hunting/foraging wild mushrooms since 1989 – my first foray was in the West Country, England. Up a hillside & down a valley near the beautiful Bradford on Avon & not far from Combe Grove – cut Cotswold stone buildings & pristine rolling English countryside. Beautiful middle England! On that first trip we collected shaggy ink caps. The chief identifier of wild mushrooms that day is now my wife! (Isabelle a French lady from the Haute Savoie region of France). Our mushroom forage yielded enough for a meal of mushrooms on toast.
I started cooking with wild mushrooms in professional kitchens whilst working with Gary Rhodes & latterly Paul Flynn (Nico Ladenis). In these 1 & 2 Michelin starred restaurants we used wild mushrooms fresh, dried & frozen. Our suppliers sourced from Scotland, England & France. Dried Girolles partnered with garlic & sherry to make a fabulous cream & jus based sauce to serve with rack of lamb. Fresh Girolles served with lobster, spinach & homemade linguine. Fresh pied de mouton with roast guinea fowl. Frozen French ceps trimmed, diced, sauté served on top of lobster ravioli with a decadent truffle beurre blanc.
I don’t profess to be a wild mushroom expert. The Latin or scientific termonogly used to identify wild mushrooms is an area I don’t “hang out in”. I leave this to the well read & specialist knowledgeable fungi people out there (whom I have enormous admiration & respect for)
In the next edition of this blog I want to talk you through a combination of seasons & a year of wild mushroom picking in Ireland (Wicklow & Donegal). I will leave you with these
- I pick mushrooms on public land & private land (ask permission – its good manners, keep people on side).
- I pick mushrooms on managed woodlands & native forest, a mixture of both broadleaf & pine forest. I haven’t had much success in open fields & meadows – not since county Wicklow
- You can find mushrooms growing pretty much any where – whilst living in London we used to go foraging for ceps, shaggy ink caps & pied blue in Richmond Park
- I don’t forage near foot paths or trails – i.e. where my canine friends like to mark
- Be careful where you forage & respectful of the local environment
- Don’t be greedy only forage what you can use or preserve
- Don’t forage wild mushrooms – unless you have an expert whom can identify what eats well or what mushrooms can lead to renal failure & potential mortality
- Purchase a good guide book to assist in the identification of mushrooms & toadstools
- Jane Grigsons book “ The Mushroom Feast” – illustrations, recipes & prose
*This information above is for illustrative & informative purposes – its upto you as how you might use this information.