I spent a couple of very enjoyable days with family foraging for mushrooms near The Mountaineers Meany Lodge just east of Snoqualmie Pass. My son Zach and his fiance Kristina invited us and her parents to join them at the annual mushroom weekend at Meany. It’s something I’ve done several times in the past, mostly in the 1990s and it had been some 10 years since I last participated.
We met at the lodge Friday evening and enjoyed an evening program on how to identify mushrooms. Although most of us present were most interested in the ones we could eat, we learned basics of mushroom ID that apply to all kinds of these fascinating fungi.
On Saturday we divided into groups and headed out into the woods. This has been an excellent year for mushrooms. It’s been both warm and wet for several weeks so the fungi were all over the place. In some places it was hard to walk in the woods without stepping on something. Many were tiny little Mycena mushrooms. They’re not edible, but come in all sorts of colors, usually in large quantities on decaying wood.
I collected several nice specimens for our cook pot, some that we’ll eat fresh in the next couple of days and the rest that we’ll dry to enjoy later.
The Admiral Bolete, Boletus mirabilis is a solid, large, fleshy member of a genus with several good edibles. Most boletes are edible, except those with red pores. But don’t take my word for it — it’s critical that you’re sure of the identification of any mushroom you eat.
The genus Ramaria is the coral fungi. These are weirdly branched fungi that release their spores from the ends of their branches. Many of them are edible, and the folks at the ID table assured me that this one could be eaten although I didn’t get the species name.
One of the best edibles is the chantarelle. They come in white, yellow, and purple. Some of the other folks up at Meany found large quantities of white chantarelles, but I only came away with a handful of the golden chantarelles, Cantharellus cibarius.
The very common Slippery Jack, Suillus luteus is edible but only of modest quality. Even though I could have filled multiple grocery sacks with these I resisted and only brought a few home. Like many other mushrooms, the slippery jack has a symbiotic relationship with conifers. The mycelium, which is the underground threadlike mass of the fungus, helps trees absorb nutrients from the soil. In turn, the tree provides sugars to the fungus.
Whatever your pleasure, I hope you’ve found time to get out and enjoy our rainy autumn weather. I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, but finding great pleasure with nearly every minute when I do escape to the outdoors.
Photo Notes … all of these were photographed with my Canon 1Ds Mark II body and a Canon 100mm macro lens. My camera was on my tripod, in some cases adjusted so the lens was very close to the ground. Exposures were between 1/8 and 2 seconds at f/11 to keep much of the mushroom in focus. Custom white balance (with a Color Checker Passport) kept the colors true.