I love mushrooms. Like, a lot. I mean, I really, really love them. This is ironic because I never used to. When I was younger, I wouldn’t touch the things. Not in a million years! Then, one day (or so it seemed), I suddenly craved them. I remember being at the salad bar in college, eyeing them. Should I or shouldn’t I? It’d been a while since I tried them and I was feeling brave. Plus, I wanted to eat healthier (hence, the salad). Sure, why not?

Okay, so they weren’t amazing. But I actually didn’t mind them. The next day I tried more. And then I started looking forward to eating them (yes, I’m one of those weird types of people that gets excited about food and wakes up thinking, Yay! Breakfast time!). Then I suddenly wanted them on everything – salads and burgers and steaks, oh my! And in every which way – raw and cooked and in piles of onions.

Long story short, I really, really like mushrooms now. So much so, that I get a little sentimental when someone brings me pizza or salad that has mushrooms on it. I tend to profess my undying love to said person in situations like these. (And no, I’m not exaggerating here. This really does happen.)

So, what do you think my answer was when I found out that we had a mushroom society and that they were going on a foray in mid-May?

I answered that question with three of my own: when, where, and CAN WE EAT THEM???

I found out that it was on May 19, that it was about 20 minutes away, and that YES, WE CAN EAT THEM!!!

I was sold.

So, my dad and I piled into the car and drove into the sunrise (okay, it wasn’t that early, but I hate mornings) and toward the Susquehanna Valley Mycological Society’s meeting place. When we got there, I was a little intimidated. It seemed like a lot of people already knew each other, and we were newbies. Luckily, someone nice (who was also a newbie) came over and started talking to us. Yay, friends!

When the ball finally got rolling, we got a lesson in what we were looking for: morels. They were the biggies, the diamonds in the rough, the oasis in the middle of the desert, the…well, you get the idea.

(ALL pictures come from SVMS’s website and ALL credit goes to them! Also, these are all from previous years.)

Morels look like this:

Weird, right? These things are hard to find. We found them under ash trees and apple trees, but there are some other spots where they pop up. In all the places we found them, there was typically only a group of two or three. We spent a couple of hours in the woods and only came back with 16 of them. It was worth it though! (Even if I didn’t find any myself :(.)

Next up, we have Dryad’s Saddle.

These are definitely way too big to eat.

These are typically found on dying elms. (Note to self: learn different kinds of trees, will make finding edible mushrooms easier.) They can get HUGE. They are edible, but you really only want to eat the smaller ones, as they’re much more tender than the big ones. We could just barely tear off a chunk on a big one, so imagine what it’d be like to try to eat it – yuck! (And I found a group of these all by myself, whoo!!)

Oh – and we found a few oyster mushrooms too. They threw them in with the Dryad’s Saddle.

The last main type that we stumbled across were called rubber cups. I found some of these too! Dad picked one and handed it to me to hold onto for a minute. And then I threw it. On purpose. In my defense, there was a nice sized spider sitting on my hand and I wasn’t thinking clearly. Luckily, there were enough that we could pick another one.

I lied. This is actually from the Wiki article because the pictures from my foray aren’t online yet.

These are generally considered inedible around here, but apparently they eat them pretty regularly in Malaysia.

So, I had tons of fun! The people were all fantastic – very welcoming and knowledgeable. I doubted anyone felt out of place once we all bonded over the hunting process. Looking for mushrooms in the forest is like going on a treasure hunt, and I can tell that this is quickly going to become an obsession for me. Also, the food there was incredible. This isn’t your typical get-together. These people can cook. And of course pretty much everyone made something with mushrooms in it. (I brought chocolate chip cookies – lame.)

If that year was anything like this year, there would be another table laden down with food in addition to this one.

But I know what you’re thinking right – what about those mushrooms? Those mushrooms that you pulled from the forest and ate. What did they taste like? Well…nothing, really. They weren’t slimy or chewy or weird in consistency (and more so than your typical mushroom). They had a slight taste to them, but it wasn’t anything overwhelming. They would be better suited for putting into other dishes than just eating them on their own. Either that or they could’ve used some serious seasoning. But, in the end, I liked them and I would definitely keep trying new varieties.

Here are some lessons I learned:

  1. I know nothing about mushrooms, except that I like them.
  2. Bring a basket. Plastic bags aren’t good (they don’t spread the spores so more mushrooms can grow).
  3. I definitely ate a wider array of mushrooms on this day than I have in my entire life.
  4. Wearing my Hunger Games t-shirt made me feel invincible, even if no one knew what it was.
  5. Plan all other events around the weekends of the forays, because this is going to become a regular thing.

So, there you have it! That’s what a mushroom foray is like. Next time – oh, there will be a next time – I’ll be more prepared. And I’ll take my own pictures. And I’ll have another post for you guys.

Do you like mushrooms? If not, how come? If you do, what’s the weirdest looking one you’ve eaten?

(P.S. Please do your civic duty and add one more page view to their website. It’s totally worth it. Check out all the pictures, and the great commentary the photographer has on just about every single one. You’ll get a good laugh, I promise.)

  1. ddog13 says:

    It seems that with mushrooms, people either like them or hate them. People who don’t like mushrooms REALLY don’t like them. I’m part of the first group. I like mushrooms a lot, even though they are nasty-looking fungus. But I like them. There’s no other food like it. You have to pick big mushrooms when you want to cook with them because they’re 90% water, and they shrink in the pan.
    Interesting post. It’s rare that I read posts about mushrooms…actually, now that I think about it, I never have…

    • Karen Rought says:

      I totally agree – and it seems like a lot of people don’t like them. Part of it is that people just can’t get over the fact of WHAT it is, rather than what it tastes like.

      Thanks! I’m not sure I’ve read any other posts about mushrooms, either. Haha! Glad this could be the first one. 🙂

  2. Julie Glover says:

    I don’t like mushrooms. But I do find your change of heart fascinating. I read recently that our taste buds replace themselves every 7 years, so that’s why you might suddenly like something you didn’t before. Interesting, eh?

    Good for you stepping out and trying something new! Love the pics, Karen.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Isn’t that interesting? I’ve heard that too, and I can’t help but think that it’s a real thing. I used to hate tomatoes and now I eat them on practically everything! And there are plenty of other foods that I used to avoid that I now eat frequently. My taste buds have definitely changed since I was younger.

  3. August McLaughlin says:

    I enjoy mushrooms, except for the slithery black type common in Chinese food. 😉 Fun post!

  4. I steered clear of mushrooms until I fell in love with portobellos. Somehow that love hasn’t translated to me daring to try other kinds. But maybe I will after this fun hunt post and knowing you went from avoiding them to loving them. Maybe there are other kinds that I’ll love too! We have a local farmers’ market with a mushroom stand, so that’d be a great place to start.

  5. This sounds like a lot of fun, but I would be out of place–I’m allergic to mushrooms. Pretty much all of them. I can’t even touch them without a burning sensation on my hands.

  6. Elena Aitken says:

    Mushroom hunting scares the bleep out of me. I’m terrified I’ll identify one wrong and ya know…
    That being said, I’ve been on more than one morel mushroom hunt. Yum.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t do it alone. And I would never just guess! I feel pretty comfortable with morels because false morels look way different, but otherwise…I’m not going to risk it!

  7. Debra Kristi says:

    That sounds like so much fun! I love mushrooms, except… I had them tonight and they apparently aren’t lovin’ me. 😦

  8. […] If you read about my first experience with a mushroom foray, then you’ll know about my odd obsession with mushrooms. I won’t embarrass myself by raving about them again. […]

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