There are several varieties of easily distinguishable, edible mushrooms, with none more well-known than the morel– a fungus, rather than a mushroom. While each has a distinct growing season and distinct locale, they all form a family of delectable wild foods that are much sought after, like the French truffle.
The most distinguishable of the edible mushrooms is the puffball – a globe-shaped mushroom that can grow to soccer ball size, and has a delightfully woody flavour. The favourite growing site of this mushroom is on dung heaps, in wood chips and rotting tree mulch, and near sunlit pastures. It is best eaten before the interior begins to turn from solid white to brown to black. Be sure that your pick is truly a puffball, and has no stalk growing inside. It should be firm and light-colored inside. buy shrooms canada Puffballs begin to develop in late spring & early summer, producing into the early fall.
The next morel cousin is the shaggy mane, a morel-shaped mushroom with upward-turning scales and a dusty brown color. It grows from spring until summer, to a height of 4-6″, preferring open air and meadows to the mottled lighting of a woodland. Shaggy manes are distinguishable by their tendency to break easily when handled.
Chanterelles are another delicacy with a flavour not unlike morels. Although found in summer and fall, they like similar soil conditions. Imagine a trumpet with its mouth facing skyward, and you’ll have an image of the beige to brown chanterelle mushroom.
One of the most unusually shaped fungi is the hen-of-the-woods, a growth found at the base of decaying trees that looks almost identical to a reddish hen with ruffled tail feathers. This delightful mushroom can be found in late spring and early summer. Catch it early and young, though, to ensure that it has not developed a woody texture.
Of course, one of the earliest edible mushrooms is the oyster mushroom which can often be found even as the snows just begin to melt. Growing on the sides of dead trees, these beautiful white clusters offer an early taste of the mushroom harvests to follow.
Other mushrooms and fungi can be edible, including shelf mushrooms, often found growing on decaying trees in shaded woodlands. However, many of the standard umbrella-type mushrooms have deadly sisters, while others (such as the shelf mushroom) may be edible, yet have bland taste, or tough textures.
Without a doubt, the many varieties of morels, though, are the most sought-after, during their mid-spring harvest season. Alongside them you will find a variety of fungi, most of which are not toxic, but are not the equal of the morel as a spring wild harvest treat.