Foraging for wild mushrooms in Oberon

by Forager on April 21, 2010

Welcome to the first post on my brand spanking new blog! It’s been a phenomenally long hiatus, but coding issues are (mostly) sorted, and I’m leaving my old blog Foraging Otaku behind and starting afresh with a new blog name – The Gourmet Forager.

I thought it was only befitting then that my first post be about foraging. I’ve always applied “foraging” in the abstract sense – that is, foraging for new eateries and destinations. A few months ago I went on my first proper foray into foraging – foraging for wild mushrooms – specifically saffron milkcaps. These mushrooms are also commonly known as pine mushrooms in Australia but a read through mushroom field guides or a quick search on the net will reveal that “pine mushrooms” is a generic term for mushrooms found in pine forests and will represent different mushroom varieties depending on where you are. So for the sake of distinction, I’ll use the term “saffron milkcap”.

My first foraging experience came about in an odd way. I spied some saffron milkcaps, in a grocery in Haberfield.  I’d heard about these mushrooms from my friend KatieB wwhose mother picks them under pine trees around their home in the Blue Mountains. Not knowing anymore about them but significantly intrigued I immediately snapped them up and skipped home to the Co-pilot to show him my purchase as though I were a child showing off a shiny new toy.

Saffron milkcaps

Saffron milkcaps

The Co-pilot didn’t share my enthusiasm and looked at the orange-brown specimens dubiously. I dutifully ignored him and cooked them in the pan with a simple butter, garlic, parsley sauce and chicken stock for extra moisture since they didn’t seem to sweat as much as button mushrooms.

Cooked saffron milkcaps

Saffron milkcaps in butter, garlic & parsley

I found the mushrooms to be tasty and strongly flavoured in a meaty way. The texture was slightly dry and spongy and the Co-pilot wrinkled his nose at them, pushing them away. Naturally, I ate his portion as well. All was well until I woke up in the early hours of the next morning to use the bathroom.

Just as I turned to flush the toilet I was confronted with the horrifying sight of remarkably red urine. My first thought wasn’t the mushrooms as they didn’t seem to have enough red pigment in them to cause urine discolouration. As it was 5am in the morning my sleep fuzzy brain came to the natural conclusion that clearly my kidneys were liquefying and I was dying. Clearly.

Sitting alone and in the dark in my lounge room, I googled “kidney failure, urine discolouration”. After 20 minutes of anxious searching the possibility of food causing the disolouration presented itself again. Unconvinced but out of ideas I searched to see if the saffron milkcaps were to blame. And thankfully, the first link returned clearly stated “saffron milkcaps turn your urine red. Do not be alarmed”. Relief washed over me and I crawled back into bed.

But the seeds of curiosity had been set. My “near-death experience” rendered me suddenly obsessed with saffron milkcaps. I searched for every morsel of information about them and was determined to forage for my own, especially after having read about Michael Pollan’s mushrooming adventures in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I was disappointed to learn that there weren’t any established mushroom foraging tours in Sydney. But I did learn that you can mushrooming in the Oberon State Forests. After serendipitously stumbling upon a comprehensive mushroom hunting guide released by the River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, a hero in slow, sustainable and organic food circles, I was set.

Mushrooming guide book

The River Cottage mushroom guide

The Co-pilot recognised the crazed, obsessed look in my eye and relented, agreeing to drive the 5 hour round trip to Oberon so I could attempt to satisfy my obsession.

After a week of particularly heavy rain I declared it perfect mushrooming weather and dragged the patient Co-pilot along. Armed with my mushroom guide, a few knives, a box for all the mushrooms I was certain to find and some sustenance, we set off.

As we approached Oberon and plunged into curtains of wispy mist we kept our eyes peeled for mushrooms. Having now committed to the mushrooming trip, the Co-pilot transformed into an obsessed competitive mushroom hunter. He dubbed himself “Hawk Eyes” and started scanning the roads for signs of mushrooms, drawing on decades of insanely competitive family Easter Egg hunting experience. It wasn’t long before Hawk Eyes delivered when he spotted some white mushrooms on the side of the road. Using my trusty book, I positively identified them to be field mushrooms. They weren’t great specimens as they were water-logged and bug-ridden but they were our first find, so we dutifully picked them and kept them.

Field mushrooms

Field mushrooms

Soon after we stopped at what looked like a good mushroom hunting pine forest. No sooner than we’d stopped the car the Co-pilot was off and striding with competitive purpose, in Hawk Eyes mode. I on the otherhand was just a wee bit overwhelmed by the magical beauty of my surroundings. Standing in the middle of thick pines, sprawling blackberry brambles at my feet and mist falling gently around me in the forest. All was silent save for the gentle patter on raindrops on leaves and the gentle crunch of pine needles and twigs underfoot. I was more than content to take my time and soak up the unusual and rare opportunity to stand quietly in a forest and not have the pressing need to powerhike at a running pace through the bushes to a pre-defined location. That, and the forest inexplicably reminded me of those forests in Forks that have been so famously featured in the Twilight movies. I half expected to look up and find myself being hunted by Edward Cullen.

Magical forests

Magical forest setting

As I amused myself with the surroundings, the Co-pilot powered back proudly and dragged me off to a spot where he found some rather spectacular but sinister looking red and alabaster white specimens. We couldn’t identify them using our guide, but kept them anyway, so we could perform a more in depth identification later.

Suspicious red mushrooms

Suspicious red mushrooms

The experience we had at the first mushrooming ground formed the template for the rest of the day. We’d stop somewhere, I’d potter about slowly and contentedly with a dreamy look on my face and the Co-pilot would race off using a thorough military approach of sectioning off parts of the mushrooming area and systematically scouring and scanning for mushrooms.

By the end of the day we had collected a great variety of mushrooms, but sadly none that were saffron milkcaps.

Mystery white mushrooms

Mystery white mushrooms

Mushroom bonanza

Mushroom bonanza

We decided to try one more area before we called it quits and headed for home. We drove deep into the pine forests, passing curious wallabies standing sentinel on the way. As per usual, we went our separate ways and almost instantly I started finding good specimens including my first saffron milkcap! It wasn’t as pretty and immaculate as I’d hoped for but beggars can’t be choosers. I quickly followed that first find up with another specimen that was large, yellow with red flecks and oddly spongy in texture.

Finding saffron milkcaps

Finding saffron milkcaps (left) and an un-identified spongy yellow mushroom (right)

Proud of my mushroom hunting skills I went off in search of the Co-pilot to show-off and found him looking for me with a smug look on his face. Of course with such fertile mushrooming grounds,  he’d found his own mushroom booty. I found him with his t-shirt hastily converted into a dirty basket laden full with enormous saffron milkcaps.

Saffron milkcap haul

Saffron milkcap haul

One of those specimens was impressively large and heavy.

Colossal saffron milkcap

Colossal saffron milkcap

Depositing our find, we went back in search of more and found plenty. A few more saffron milkcaps, and a few white mushroom varieties that I at first incorrectly identified as slippery jacks, the other common edible mushroom in pine forests, as they had a sticky film of mucus on the caps. On closer inspection though, these sticky imposters had gills underneath, not the typical tubes found on slippery jacks.

Normal sized saffron milkcap

A more normal-sized saffron milkcap

False slippery jack

A false specimen of slippery jack

Examining the false slippery jack

Examining the false slippery jack

With this final raid, we boosted the value of our find dramtically and we grinned proudly at our dirt and pine-needle speckled booty.

Final wild mushroom haul

Final wild mushroom haul

Mushrooms!

Mushrooms!

We were finally satisfied with our haul and went home to first identify and then cook up our find.

The examination table

The examination table

Unfortunately, the identification process was quite disappointing as other than the distinctive saffron milkcaps which bled bright saffron milk and slowly turned blue with oxidisation, we couldn’t positively identify any of the other mushrooms. It wasn’t just because my mushrooming guide was designed for British forests (d’oh!), even the resources on the web couldn’t help us. There were too many specimens that fell into the “little brown toadstool” category as they had very few defining features that could let the amateur mushroom hunter identify them. In the end we had no choice but to obey the golden rule of mushrooming: “If you can’t identify it, don’t eat it”. And as there were poisonous specimens in my guide with ominous names like “death cap” and “funeral bell”, we didn’t need much convincing.

Little brown toadstools

One of the many little brown toadstools we found

Identifying saffron milkcaps

Identifying saffron milkcaps

Our saffron milkcaps were so heavy with dirt, pine needles and other gunk, wiping them with a damp towel achieved nothing. We resorted to washing them thoroughly and slicing them into bitesize chunks.

Squeaky clean saffron milkcaps

Squeaky clean saffron milkcaps

We decided to make pasta, cooking the mushrooms in garlic and onions first and finishing with a parsley, milk, marsala and parmesan sauce.

Creamy fettucine with saffron milkcaps

Ingredients:

  • 500g saffron milkcaps, cleaned and chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 225g of good fettucine pasta (half a packet)
  • 300ml of milk (or half the amount in cream if desired)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 tblsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 anchovies
  • dash of marsala
  • butter
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • freshly cracked pepper and salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Fry the onions and garlic in butter until translucent.  Add anchovies and fry until melted
  2. Add in mushrooms and saute on low heat until wilted
  3. Add in milk, marsala, salt and pepper and cook on low-medium heat until half the liquid has reduced (about 20 minutes)
  4. Cook the pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted water whilst the mushrooms cook. Drain and set aside
  5. Add parsley and cheese to the mushrooms and mix
  6. Add in cooked pasta, toss to coat and serve immediately
Saffron milkcaps being sauteed

Saffron milkcaps being sauteed

Creamy saffron milkcap pasta

Creamy saffron milkcap pasta

Paired with Piggs Peake viognier

Paired with Piggs Peake viognier

The mushrooms were delicious, the creamy sauce complementing their meatyness well, but we found that the smaller and younger specimens were much nicer. Their smooth, silky, slippery texture gets drier and spongier with size and thus age. We paired it with a 2009 Piggs Peake Viognier, which cut through the creaminess and complemented the mushrooms nicely.

My first foraged meal

My first foraged meal

And because it was the result of almost a 10 hour day – a 5 hour round trip, and preparation time before and after the trip, it was a very, very satisfactory meal. Although, I must admit, the Co-pilot and I were very lucky that day. If it weren’t for the haul we found at the last spot we would’ve undoubtedly come home hungry, tired and empty handed.

But despite the long day and the very real risk of a day of fruitless mushrooming, you can probably gather from my post that I had a brilliant time and was keen as mustard to head off mushrooming again. In no time my story about my virgin mushrooming adventure garnered a fan base amongst my friends and I had a sizeable group of mushroomers keen to join in. When friends invited us up to stay in their holiday home in the Blue Mountains, we eagerly added in a mushrooming side trip.

Mushrooming in Oberon – take 2

Unlike our first mushroom foraging trip, this time the weather was pleasant and dry, with the sun creating warm dappled light through the forest. It was gorgeous, but I secretly missed the magical misty forest wonderland we experienced the first time. We were also worried about the mushroom potential as there hadn’t been rain for a while in the mountains and we didn’t expect to find much. But we needn’t have worried. The first place we stopped, a mere step from our car, the Co-pilot and I immediately noticed how many mushrooms were sprouting. On our first mushrooming attempt it was difficult to find any mushrooms, let alone the saffron milkcaps, and yet this time there were mushrooms everywhere. Sadly, the mushrooms in great abundance were fly agaric mushrooms – a striking but mildly poisonous red capped mushroom with white spots – one that I stereotypically visualise when I think of cartoon-ish mushrooms.

Fly agaric mushrooms at different stages of their life cycle

Fly agaric mushrooms at different stages of their life cycle. Mature stage (left), young button (top right), near mature (bottom right)

Not to be deterred we set off into the forest in search of saffron milkcaps and slippery jacks. Almost immediately, The Artist spots the first saffron milkcap partially hidden under pine needles and brambles and displays his find obligingly as we all snap photos.

Josh finds the first mushroom

The Artist finds the first saffron milkcap

Buoyed by the competitive hunt for saffron milkcaps, our enthusiastic hunting party of 6 set off, eyes glued to the forest floor for signs of hiding mushrooms. After a few hours of intense foraging involving scrambling through thorny blackberry brambles, walking through spider webs and flicking off leeches (all punctuated by alternating curses and screams ), we were abruptly herded out of the forest as there was a high speed car rally underway and somehow in our excitement and haste to go mushrooming we’d ignored all the signs and barricades.

But by that time we’d collected 2 baskets full of saffron milkcaps! So we were happy to call it quits and extricate ourselves from the path of oncoming rally cars.

Mushroom foragers

Mushroom foragers at work

Baskets laden with saffron milkcaps

Baskets laden with saffron milkcaps

Unfortunately, due to the lack of rainfall in the area in the preceding weeks, many of the mushrooms we collected were fairly dry and woody. So after a vigorous cull of all the poor specimens, we were left with only a third of what we’d collected.

Still, what remained was enough for mushrooms on toast for breakfast the next day. The Artist did the honours and cooked the mushrooms in a delicious buttery, herby concotion.

Herby saffron milkcaps on toasted sourdough

Ingredients:

  • 250g of saffron milkcaps, sliced in bite-size chunks
  • handful of sage and thyme, roughly chopped
  • handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 100g of butter
  • 1.5 cup of chicken stock
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • toasted slices of sourdough

Method:

  1. Fry the garlic, sage and thyme in butter over low heat until the butter starts to brown
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted
  3. Add chicken stock and cook on low heat for 15 minutes until mushrooms are soft and cooked through
  4. Add parsley and season with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and dash of olive oil
  5. Serve immediately on toasted slices of sourdough
Herby saffron milkcaps

Herby saffron milkcaps enjoyed on toasted sourdough

Although the mushrooms we collected were a tad dry and slightly lacking their usually distinctive nutty, rich flavour, the long and slow cooking with stock and flavoursome herbs more than made up for the faults and the result was a deliciously moreish breakfast devoured in minutes to the chorus of satisfied foragers.

So after 2 mushrooming trips have I satsifed my wild mushroom foraging obsession? Hah! Not even close. If anything, I’ve only added super-volatile bonfire fuel to my mushroom fire and feel a desperate need to get back out there this time armed with Australian mushroom field guides so I can better examine the mushroom specimens I find.

If you’re wondering where my secret mushrooming spot is, all I need to say is head to the pine forests in Oberon. There were plenty to be found everywhere I looked. And now is the time to do it as it’s peak mushroom season and we passed many fellow foragers looking for tasty mushroom morsels. Just wait for rain, then head to the visitor’s office in Oberon for a mushroom guide & you’re set!

Good luck and happy foraging!

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara (Belly Rumbles) April 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

How excellent, this is actually on my list of to dos, but have not been able to get there yet this season. If you are going to head of shrooming, drop into the Oberon Visitor Information Centre, they have a fact sheet. I believe that they will also check your bounty for any poisonous ones you may have picked.

Red pee would have freaked me out completely!!!

Love the new blog format and welcome back :)

2 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Hey welcome back Trina! I was just wondering about you the other day and wondering when you’d be blogging again. And a very appropriate post to start off with too! 😀

3 Chris April 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Wow! fantastic ‘first’ post, very fitting, and i love the new look! I might have to convince people to go mushroom foraging, sounds like a lot of fun :)

4 Jen April 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Woooo! Love the new blog Trina! Thanks for sharing your mushroom foraging adventure, i’d love to give it a go one day! The red fry agaric mushies look so cute!
.-= Jen´s last blog ..Tempura Hajime =-.

5 lili - pikeletandpie April 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Great to have you back Trina, and what an epic first post! You are certainly dedicated to the mushroom hunt, and you’ve got more guts than me. Those funeral bells and death caps are more than enough to make me waver during the identification process. What better though, than a bit of a drive to forage in beautiful surrounds.
.-= lili – pikeletandpie´s last blog ..Spiced chocolate mousse =-.

6 Betty @ The Hungry Girl April 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Welcome back!! YAY! I was wondering where you had gone to! Foraging for wild mushrooms sounds like the perfect way to start the new blog too! I’m in the middle of switching blogs and it’s seriously causing so much head pain! Anyway, great to have you back 😀
.-= Betty @ The Hungry Girl´s last blog ..Strangers with Candy, Redfern =-.

7 Gourmantic April 21, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Welcome back! I was wondering if your hiatus was going to end soon :)

Sounds like a lot of fun to do! And those mushrooms would go nicely with polenta. And a glass of red wine!
.-= Gourmantic´s last blog ..Useful Tahitian Words and Phrases =-.

8 OohLookBel April 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Welcome back, Trina; the new blog look is Beautiful! I loved reading about your mushroom foraging adventure. You and co-pilot are did pretty good in finding all those mushies, and very brave to have eaten them. 😉
.-= OohLookBel´s last blog ..Thar she blows – Lentil and Chicken Salad =-.

9 Adrian @ Food Rehab April 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Wooot! Hell of a nice logo there! And way to start a fresh theme with mushrooms! Welcome back
.-= Adrian @ Food Rehab´s last blog ..Recipe Time: Chicken Tinola with Lemongrass & Sweet Corn Cobs + The Salt Book Comp Winners! =-.

10 Simon @ the heart of food April 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Really liking the new blog layout. Looks like there was a lot of work going on during the hiatus :)

Looks like a load of effort to forage these saffron caps but seemingly all well worth the while. Do you see yourself doing this more often?

11 Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 21, 2010 at 11:51 pm

What an epic shroom post to welcome us to your new bloggins!

I am smitten by the magical forest setting photo. Ahhhh.

I think if a mushroom is going to freak you out with red wee, it should look like the “suspicious red mushroom”, not sneak around looking normal and brown.
.-= Conor @ HoldtheBeef´s last blog ..International Pizza Pie Incident – Poached Pear Pizza Pie =-.

12 billy@a table for two April 22, 2010 at 12:28 am

Welcome back Trina. The long way is totally worth it.
Looks like a great outdoor adventure, especially when you can bring something home that is edible… minus the red urine… :)
.-= billy@a table for two´s last blog ..What’s going on behind the scenes at Single Origin roasters warehouse? =-.

13 Simon Food Favourites April 22, 2010 at 1:10 am

wow so many different types of mushrooms. how cool. the new blog looks great. i didn’t realise it takes so long to migrate but you’ve done a great job and looks awesome. there’s obviously a lot i don’t know about migration. sounds too scary to think about. why the migration? is Wordpress the bees knees of blogging?
.-= Simon Food Favourites´s last blog ..Nicholson & Saville Food Wholesalers: Supporting local growers, Hillsdale (20 Apr 2010) =-.

14 Dave B April 22, 2010 at 6:51 am

Great post! You know Inez’s folks live in Oberon, right? I’ll have to do some mushrooming myself next time I’m up there!

15 Reemski April 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

Welcome back Trina! You’ve been missed! Oberon is a spectacularly pretty place, but i had never thought of it for mushrooms!

16 felix April 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

Red urine eh? Sounds like I’ll be getting some saffron milkcaps for my next prank 😀
.-= felix´s last blog ..Recipe: Salt and Pepper Mud Crab =-.

17 Helen (grabyourfork) April 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

Loved the post Trina! Have always wanted to go hunting for pine mushrooms in Oberon but somehow we never make it. I love how you describe the Co-pilot skills as honed from “decades of insanely competitive family Easter Egg hunting experience”! Such an awesome fooding adventure and yes, I love the new layout and header. All that time and effort was really worth it :)

18 Tangled Noodle April 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm

You new blog is lovely, especially your perfectly simple new banner!

I loved this post – so fun and funny! I would’ve been madly Googling for that ‘symptom’, too. As much as I love mushrooms, I’m much too wussy to try and forage for them myself. Chances are that I will indeed pick out the deadliest kind. You and Co-pilot are much more adventurous and therefore were well-rewarded with more of those intriguing saffron milkcaps. I’ll happily take a bowl of the fettucine, though.
.-= Tangled Noodle´s last blog ..Tweet Inspiration: Irish Pan Pizza =-.

19 mademoiselle délicieuse April 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Wow, what an adventure that started off with a ‘near death experience’! Really a case of whatever doesn’t kill you can only make you more curious =p Never thought about foraging for mushrooms but it’s obviously a rewarding experience. Can’t wait for more posts from you – it’s been too long!
.-= mademoiselle délicieuse´s last blog ..Bourke Street Bakery, 9 Jan 2010 =-.

20 Friederike Binder April 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Hi Trina,
Your article reminds me of the pine forests in Europe – the smells – mushroom picking – the taste of wild strawberries – delicious blueberries – sunrays dancing on leaves of ancient oak trees………

Have a good weekend Friederike

21 foodwink April 24, 2010 at 10:27 am

Wow, you are back with a BANG! From sourcing the ingredients to cooking, this post is fantastic. Now, please post more often 😀
.-= foodwink´s last blog ..Wine and Dine at Margan Restaurant, Hunter Valley =-.

22 Sophia April 24, 2010 at 11:46 am

Welcome back Tweeney! Really like the new look blog.
Can I come on the next foraging trip? Sounds like so much fun!

23 Tresna April 25, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I’ve been wanting to go mushroom hunting for some time but never seem to get around to it. Reading about your adventure has spurred me on!

24 Forager April 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Hey Sara – I picked up a visitor sheet on our first trip but it wasn’t terribly informative. I’d recommend getting a mushroom guide book or at least doing some online research and printing out some identification guides for saffron milkcaps and slippery jacks. But do it – you’ll have a ball!

Hey Lorraine – It’s good to be back!

Hey Chris – Thanks & definitely do it soon with friends. You can cover more ground and increase your chances of finding goodies!

Hey Jen – Aren’t they cute? Apparently they are eaten in some areas, but are mildly poisonous and hallucinogenic. Er, I wouldn’t risk it.

Hey Lili – Thanks & it was a great experience. I am utterly addicted to foraging in the forest now

Hey Betty – Thanks! It’s great to be blogging again! And hang in there. I know the blog migration pain all too well!

Hey Gourmantic – That sounds like an excellent combination. And the saffron milkcaps are definitely meaty enough to go with red wine

Hey Bel – Ah, some would say brave, and others stupid! Luckily, we’re still both alive, although admittedly we were wondering if we’d wake up the next morning!

Hey Adrian – Thanks! I have to thank the very talented Miss Oggie Bad for the gorgeous header.

Hey Simon – Totally. I’m utterly obsessed about it now. The Co-pilot – less so (he does the long driving you see)

Hey Conor – I agree. If they were bright red, it would’ve been a no-brainer. You just don’t expect the red urine from orange brown mushrooms.

Hey Billy – Yes! There is something so satisfying about foraging for your own food. Primitive and satisfying.

Hey Simon – Well, with the new Blogger changes I wouldn’t have needed to switch. It’s just more customisable I guess.

Hey Dave – That’s right! We should totally hook up for a bit of foraging!

Hey Reemski – Thanks! It feels right to be back on track!

Hey Felix – Uh, if you’re interested, I found the older and drier your mushrooms, the more intense the red pee effect.

Hey Helen – Yes, the Co-pilot has an innate ability to hunt. Or is that compete? You should definitely get a crew together and go!

Hey Tangled Noodle – Oh that’s a shame because I hear the mushroom foraging scene is really so much more active in the US and you have more wild gourmet varieties.

Hey Madamoiselle delicieuse – Haha, yes, reverse psychology works a treat on me. And it’s great t0 be back – and definitely more to come!

Hey Friedel – Ah, you’re not the first European I’ve met to muse wistfully about mushrooming in European forests as a child! Sounds like such a great childhood experience! Thanks for the wishes :)

Hey Foodwink – Definitely satisfying to be part of the entire food sourcing chain. I’m trying to compile more posts so hopefully the wait won’t be long!

Hey Phi – Of course you can!

Hey Tresna – Do it! It’s such a great fun day out in the forest even if you don’t find much. But now is the time – late April to May is perfect mushrooming time.

25 Arwen from Hoglet K April 27, 2010 at 4:38 am

That’s an impressive lot of foraging! I’m glad your near-death experience turned into such a triumph!

26 Forager May 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Hey Arwen – Still obsessed with it too. Too bad it hasn’t been good mushrooming wet weather. *Sigh* Praying for rain…

27 Bethany July 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Hello,
I am just writing to say that you should be very careful about the information you are writing as some of it is incorrect and misleading.
You have multiple pictures of poisenous mushrooms on your page which can cause great sickness, also some of the captions under your picrues are wrong.
The photo captioned “A false specimen of slippery jack” is not a slippery jack at all, but a piosenous mushroom that should not be touched.
The information centre may not be what you consider to be “terribly informative” as they are legally only allowed to talk about two mushrooms (saffron milkcap and slippery jack) as others can be very dangerous.
In the picture entitled “examination table”, most are poisenous.

I’m am just writing this for your safety and the safety of others

regards,

Bethany

28 Forager July 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Hey Bethany – You’re absolutely right that most of the mushrooms we collected were probably poisonous but I’ve in no way intended to post incorrect or misleading information.

I’m a bit of a long winded writer, but if you read through my post carefully and not just browse through the pictures, you’ll see that I actually discourage picking of any mushrooms that you can’t identify (I’ve bolded this statement in the post). The text around the “false specimen” of slippery jack is explained in the text above it – I don’t believe I promoted it as edible, I merely said it wasn’t a slippery jack. Similarly, the “examination table” was indeed loaded with unidentified specimens – but I clearly said in my post that I threw them out as I couldn’t identify them. Lastly, I believe I have done the right thing by recommending that amateur mushroom foragers get a hold of mushroom guides and head into the visitor office- even if the visitor office isn’t terribly informative, at least I’ve recommended seeking advice and guidance over heading out into the forest uninformed.

I appreciate your concern for me and that of my readers, and I do hope that my mushroom foraging post isn’t misused as it was not intended to be incorrect or wilfully misleading. How’s this for a warning in addition to my post above?

PLEASE SEEK EXPERT ADVICE BEFORE EMBARKING ON MUSHROOM FORAGING AND IF YOU CAN’T IDENTIFY IT, DON’T EAT IT!

29 Lenka September 4, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Hi Forager,

if you are after a guide for edible mushrooms, find yourself friend from Slavic background, either Czechoslovakian or Polish. We Slavs love our mushies and we go every year picking either to Oberon or the notorious Belanglo State Forest. There are also 3 different types of Slippery Jacks, which most people do not know. This coming season should also be more bountiful with all the rain we are having, I am predicting pine mushrooms as early as December. Good luck.

30 Forager November 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Hey Lenka – Great tips! There are mushrooms in Belanglo State Forest too? And 3 types of slippery jacks? That is exciting news indeed! So… er.. are you holding any foraging tours then? Say in December?

31 Lenka December 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Hi Forager,

The mushies are growing just as I have predicted, we have already picked about 150kg from Oberon and about 15kg from Belanglo State Forest. They have been growing as early as November this year. They are slowing down for the moment, but by the next full moon they will be popping out of the ground so fats that you will not know where to look first. If you are interested more about where to go and which mushrooms to pick, we can show you, just email me. We will be going again just after the next full moon.

32 Forager January 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Hey Lenka – 150kg!!!??! Wowsers that’s impressive – and well-predicted! Has the recent warm sunny weather put a dent in their growth? So excited! More foraging on the cards!!

33 Anton March 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

Suggestion to all mushroom pickers, out of respect to nature and other pickers, CUT the mushrooms off, leaving the route(bottom bit of mushroom) in the ground, AS OPPOSED TO JUST REAPING THEM OUT of the ground with it. This ensures continues growth!

34 Ryan March 9, 2011 at 11:27 am

Yes Anton is right. Always cut the mushroom and leave the base in the ground as this is where all the spores are located.

That way you can take the mushroom and have no effect on future mushroom development.

35 Forager March 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hey – Anton, thanks for dropping by the site and commenting! I think a blanket “cut all mushrooms” suggestion to amateur mushroom foragers is quite dangerous. I would say, unless a forager is 200% sure of the identity of the mushroom they are about to pick, without the base and examining whether there is a volva present or even a swollen base, they should take the entire mushroom.
Secondly, I do believe leaving the base in the ground to ensure continued growth is a well popularised myth. The mushroom is essentially the fruit of the mycelial network. If you are not destroying the mycelium undergroud, leaving the stem/base in the ground will sadly do nothing to promote new mushroom growth. What will promote growth is leaving the cap though as spores can drop from that and encourage new growth.
I agree with sharing though so perhaps a better message for sustainable mushrooming is to take only what you can eat, stems and all and leave other mushrooms untouched so they can drop their spores back to the forest floor.

36 Forager March 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

Hey Ryan – Unfortunately, the spores are not located in the base, they are located in the mushroom cap! This is true for at least in the case of most mushrooms that are foraged for including agarics, chanterelles, boletes, tooth fungi and even many brackets. This is also why when you need to do a spore print, you pick off the CAP and leave it covered on a piece of paper. You actually throw away the base and stem for that!

I have to disagree with both yourself and Anton and encourage people to take only what they need, but to take stem and all, especially if you aren’t sure of the identity. Experienced mushroom foragers can cut off the mushroom at the base if they are sure because taking the base is simply a pain in the neck as it dirties your nice clean caps. I think what is much less sustainable is to reap the forest of all the mushrooms cutting them off at the base and leaving no caps to drop spores and ensure reproduction continues.

37 Ro April 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

I went out yesterday with my five year old daughter and we grabbed a basket of Slippery Jacks and Saffron Milk Caps. I cooked some Saffrons up in butter and olive oil with some Jamon we made least season, our passata, garlic and a handful of garden parsley. Why more people don’t forage for these every Autumn is beyond me.

38 Roberto Arrisueno April 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Hi Trina (Forager), my name is Roberto and I actually live 40 km south west of Oberon, in an area called Porters Retreat and I operate a low key Bed & breakfast on my Farm and I have a pine forest right behind the homestead (200 m). I have just had two groups of friends and family and I took them foraging to a couple of different forests within a 6 km radius and each group of 4/5 people collected an average of 15 Kg of Saffron Milk cups and a couple of Kg of Slippery Jacks each group.
If you are interested there is still 2 or 3 more weekends of foraging left in this season, that as you probably know is limited and dependant on a drastic change in ambient temperatures. I already have the weekend of Sat 7th of May booked but the next 2 are available or even during the week if you wish.
I also have alpacas and horses in the farm and I can organise a visit to an alpaca breaders farm 10 minutes away from mine.
Please call me if you are interested, I have 3 rooms and 7 beds.
Cheers
Roberto
I can also cater for lunch and dinner if you wish. My email is ausrob3@gmail.com and my phone 02 63355295.

39 Rosie Langley May 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

So glad I found your blog as I came across lots of pine mushrooms this morning. Picked as many as I could carry and cooked them for my lunch with garlic and parsley. Delish. After a couple of hours I noticed that my wee was a most unusual colour – like yours – and started to worry in case I had poisoned myself and damaged my kidneys. I felt fine so decided not to panic. Found your blog which was so reassuring. Phew – what a relief – I shall live. Email me if you would like to know where I found my mushies. Thank you very much!!
Rosie

40 Stefffie May 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I live in the Blue Mountains and have a neighbour with mushrooms growing under her pines. I had been told they were edible but she said that they were ‘Hippy-Doo’ mushrooms and laughed when I mentioned picking and cooking them. Like you I was really attracted to the idea of foraging for my food so couldn’t resist asking if I could pick one and identify it on the net. It turned out to be a Saffron Milk Cap and I stumbled upon your blog when looking for instructions on cleaning and cooking them. I will try it tomorrow for breakfast in butter, garlic and herbs. Thanks for all the info. Keep foraging. Stefffie

41 pete June 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Good reading about the experiences of wild mushroom picking. We actually harvest Hares and rabbits from the forests around Oberon, and stuff them with either Slippery Jacks or the plain and simple field mushroom. Baked in a red wine jus !! delightful. sauted saffron mushies accompany wild venison perfectly too.

Please be well read on the type of mushrooms you take, we often see people with a haul of toxic ‘rooms that they thought were ok, best way is to go with someone experienced, or grab the guide from Oberon Vistors Centre, at least you will know what two mushrooms you can eat look like. Enjoy everyone.

42 Petronix August 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

What sort of Slippery Jacks can be eaten, Lenka? All the time i get them and try to cook it, they give everyone diarrhea. Now, we do boil them for 40 min with salt, before actually frying or putting them in food, but doestn seem to help. Thanks

43 Forager August 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Hey Ro – I know! You’re lucky to have a supply close by. And your own jamon! Jealous!! I’d be out at every chance if they were in my neighbourhood. In fact, I’ve been plotting a plan to spread spores beneath my local pines. It’s not likely to succeed, but one greedy forager can but hope!

Hey Roberto – Thank you for your lovely offer! We actually have many mountain dwelling friends but will definitely keep your offer in mind as we often have large groups heading up that our friends’ houses can’t accommodate. Alpacas! Are they on the menu? Hehe – only kidding!

Hey Rosie – You’re most welcome! I’m glad I’ve allayed the fears of another fellow forager! I’ve since done some reading and I suspect we might be part of a small group of people that are genetically more susceptible to getting the discoloured urine. Beeturia is red urine from eating beets – apparently not everyone gets it! I think these pine mushrooms must affect the same Beeturia affected people.

Hey Steffie – Hope they turned out to be palatable! The young ones are best – they tend to be much more tender. Lucky you to have a neighbouring supply of them now!

Hey Pete – Mushroom stuffed wild rabbits! What a wild meal – sounds delicious! I’ve always wondered about wild rabbits and whether I’d be able to identify those sick with myxomatosis and then, if there are any side effects to humans eating infected rabbits. And very sage wise words on the mushrooms – toxic mushrooms are a bad idea indeed! One only needs to see what happened to that author Nicholas Evans and his party. Yeesh!

Hey Petronix – I’m happy to answer this one. There are a few lookalikes, but only one sort of mushroom is called the Slippery Jack. It’s Suillus Luteus. It has a thick slimy brown cap which is slippery – hence its name. This slimy veil and any other sticky material must be peeled off as that is what causes the gastrointestinal upsets. It is common practice to remove the tubes too – so you’re left with only the flesh of the cap beneath the veil. One of my favourite mushroom books “100 Edible Mushrooms” by Michael Kuo suggests cooking for 3 minutes with lemon & herbs or slicing it thin & frying until crisp for a nutty flavour. Hope that helps!

44 Lenka August 12, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Hi Petronix, as Forager suggested you should peel the Slippery Jacks as the slimy cap can cause severe gastric upset. I would not recommend removing the tubes as most of the flavour is in that part. As for cooking, we just slice them and saute them either with onion and garlic or in their own juice and then we freeze them for later use. One of the reasons you may have diarrhea is that your stomach is very sensitive to the wild mushrooms and no matter how much you will cook them they will always cause the same problem. We have friends who have enjoyed the mushrooms for years and now they cannot touch then as they became allergic to only the Slippery Jacks. Try them first without the cap and see if your system can tolerate the mushrooms, if not, then unfortunately there is nothing you can do. Good luck.

45 Forager August 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Hey Lenka – Thanks for chipping in! What would I do without your wise foraging knowledge?

46 rene November 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Hi,
The mushroom season is at our doors in the New England NSW.
We have some lovely pine forest in our region and a climate to suit!
I have been living in Armidale for 12 years and have been foraging for mushrooms for that long.
My favorite are slippery jack when there about 4cm diameters on the cap and I found that in my experience the darker the cap the more flavour similar to the European cepes.
When picking the mushrooms try to cut it from the base with a knife to minimize the amount of dirt being picked up and to keep it in the basket standing up if possibleto prevent any dirt going into the underside of the mushroom.

47 Forager November 7, 2011 at 7:07 am

Hey Rene,

Thanks for letting me know and thought you’re not the first to have pointed out that after autumn/early winter a second mushroom season sometimes starts in November if conditions are right, I still can’t fathom why it should. Lenka mentions much the same thing in one of the above comments for Belanglo last November. I completely believe you, but totally thought mushrooms were only autumn occurrences and the November burst was an anomaly. Learning new things about mushrooms all the time – thanks for the comment and dropping by!

48 Dee@foodinhand February 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Oh wow, great site! I was at a fair today and an old Slovak lady gave me a bunch of these pine mushrooms and I had no idea what to do with them! Thanks for the tips, we stir fried them with some garlic and fresh chicken stock, woooowww so beautifully meaty.
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49 Eva March 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Hi!

Me and my bf went to Oberon today and picked some mushrooms for the first time :)! Ok, we didn’t pick any of those red ones with the white spots. Can we send you some photos to see if they really are the saffron milk caps? Please contact me on evavazne@y7mail.com and I can send you some pictures. I don’t want to cook them or eat them without an approval :D.
Plus they are very heavy and large because of the constant rain. Maybe they have gone off? Some do look good, though. Thanks :)!!!

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