02 June 2011

Urban Mushrooming

The frequent flipping between rain and warm weather has been tough on us Utahns waiting anxiously for summer. But there is one thing it is good for: mushrooms. And you don't need to search deep in the forest for the tastiest wild mushrooms, the kind that will make you want to give up those store-bought buttons. They can even be found in your own yard.

Last week Stephanie and I found a Shaggy Mane (below) on the way home from school, and tonight I found another in the driveway. One mushroom hardly makes a snack, but where there's one there's often more, so we'll keep an eye on the gravel for the next few days. Shaggy Manes are very distinctive, and very safe. There aren't any dangerous mushrooms that really look like them (but don't take my word for it - don't eat any mushroom if you're not sure what it is!). The only catch with Shaggy Manes is the narrow window of opportunity. They grow fast, and go bad fast, turning to an inky gooey black from the bottom of the cap up in just a day or two.

I like to cook Shaggy Manes very simply - I dip them in beaten egg, then fry them in a little butter. That's it. Yum!

Shaggy Manes are well known for preferring disturbed soils like the kind that can easily be found in cities, but they aren't the only urban mushroom that you can eat. We've also recently found and eaten Black Morels, including the one above from the front of a hotel on Main Street. In wetter climates (but not in northern Utah) you can also find Chanterelles and perhaps others in your yard. Take the time to learn your mushrooms, and you could be rewarded with tasty treats from as close as your driveway!

Here are two books I highly recommend if you would like to learn mushrooms:

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