Foraging for pine mushrooms and yabbies in Belanglo State Forest

by Forager on March 19, 2011

For most people when a stranger makes contact and invites you to Belanglo State Forest, it sets off alarm bells at orifice-damaging decibels.

And… you might consider my decision to accept the invitation a sure fire bet to win me a Darwin award.

For those unfamiliar with the infamous Belanglo State Forest, it is a forest in NSW where the bodies of seven backpackers were found during the 1990s and eventually connected to one serial killer, Ivan Milat. The case became known as the Backpacker Murders, the stories so chillingly gruesome that unfortunately, the murders have perhaps forever tainted the name of the forest. A Google search for the forest will attest to that with barely any non case-related links being returned.

Fellow forager and mushroom enthusiast Lenka, read my Oberon mushroom foraging post and contacted me with information about and an invitation to forage for saffron milk caps in Belanglo. Having already foraged for saffron milk caps (more commonly known as “pine mushrooms” or “red pine mushrooms”) on several occasions now at Oberon, this alone wasn’t a great lure. But, size does matter and her mention of a colossal 150kg mushroom haul thoroughly piqued my interest. But still, I was reserved and decided to do some research on the foraging potential at Belanglo. And that’s when I discovered a pond in a popular camp site within the forest, and apparently it was crawling with yabbies. Yabbies – the mere mention of them overcame my rational desires for self preservation. Knowing the Co-pilot had a weakness for yabbies guaranteed his inclusion on this creepy foraging expedition, so I turned my attentions on my reliable best friend, L-bean.

There was much hysteria and an understandable amount of concern as we are now well conditioned to be suspicious of invitations to Belanglo, even if they come from your closest friends. But, the hysteria gave way eventually with a resigned “I must love you to agree to this madness.” Duly ignoring her begrudging tone, I took that to mean “Hooray! Count me in!

After much correspondence with Lenka, and countless tempting messages of mushroom sightings, the time seemed ripe to head down to Belanglo.

We prepped for the day trip (no, even I am not mad/brave enough to camp overnight in Belanglo) by half-jokingly telling our friends, family and colleagues about our intended plan to head to Belanglo, just in case we were all mysteriously absent from work the following week. Time and time again, our announcements were met with raised eyebrows and horrified expressions that were more befitting an announcement that I was going to throw myself into a pit of angry fire ants – for fun. Then, came the predictable musing about what the mushrooms and yabbies were feeding on. Even the tackle shop owner couldn’t resist a jibe and a semi-hysterical “good luck” when I left his store with my yabby trap.

As we were committed to the foraging expedition, we duly ignored all the gut senses telling us not to go and the Co-pilot and I met with L-bean and Spamtaro at the unearthly hour of 7am on a Sunday morning for the 2 hour drive down to Belanglo. I wish we’d taken a photo of the boot of the Co-pilot’s 4WD. Despite all the negative nervous buildup, that boot was the absolute definition of optimism! We had baskets, boxes, tools and identification books for the mushrooms; smelly bait, a trap, 2 large fishing nets, untold numbers of hand reels and an enormous 50L freezer esky to hold all the yabbies we were clearly ‘guaranteed’ to catch.

We arrived at Berrima Markets at 9am just in time to find Lenka and her mother finishing their market stall setup. Before us were a plethora of healthy succulents – a passion of Lenka’s mother, Zdenka. And then there were the rows of petite jars from Lenka’s label, Bohemian Delights, holding exotic jams, chutneys and condiments from berry jams and corn relishes to more interesting additions like feijoa jam, watermelon jam and pickled wild mushrooms.

Bohemian Delights at the Berrima markets

Lenka's Bohemian Delights stall at Berrima markets featuring jams, condiments, fresh foraged fruit and prized succulents

Our eyes were drawn to a tray of fresh young saffron milkcaps displayed on a bed on pine needles and we pointed and hopped about excitedly – this was hard evidence that the mushrooms were growing! Lenka assures us that the mushrooms started growing the week prior and we should be successful on the forage. She and her family are of Czech descent and arrived in Australia when Lenka was only 15. Keen to uphold their long-held Czech traditions of foraging, they scoured the forests for wild mushrooms and fruit and Lenka remembers being woken up by her parents at dawn and along with her sister were dragged off to forests to pick the first mushrooms. Far from finding them taxing experiences she recalls relishing them, and found picking through the quiet beautiful forests peaceful and calming.

Foraged wild pine mushrooms and berries

A enviable display of fresh foraged fruits, berries and mushrooms. Lenka has a number of wild mushroom products from fresh pine mushrooms, dried slippery jacks and marinated and pickled wild mushrooms.

She adds that now many more Eastern European communities have turned up to forage in the forests and often she’ll find the fertile foraging spots crawling with hungry foragers. Sadly though, she finds the newcomers are a noisy lot, yelling to each other and disturbing the precious tranquility of the forest and the experience.

Importantly, not only has Lenka embraced the family foraging expeditions but now is often the driving force behind them, thinking nothing of long 3-4 hour drives to remote forest patches for the different mushrooms that come into season at certain times of year, or fat juicy blackberries the size of 20c pieces, plump juicy wild plums perfect for jams – even the feijoas were foraged. Over many years, their family has mentally catalogued the seasonal calendars and conditions required for wild foraging. They are now adept enough to read weather conditions and adjust their seasonal calendars to compensate. As she rattles off her foraging conquests, I am in awe – her dedication and passion for foraging puts mine to shame!

When Lenka’s father, Slavoj, arrives and we set off. Foragers are notoriously protective of their foraging spots so we are very surprised that Lenka is more than happy to share her mushrooming spots with us. We pass an ominous warning at the entrance of Belanglo State Forest that simply reads “PLEASE BE CAREFUL“, a simple chilling message that settled heavily on our minds as we continued to drive deep into the forest.

Belanglo State Forest warnings

The ominous "please be careful" warning at the entrance to Belanglo State Forest

Down the winding roads we drove squirreling ever further down the rabbit hole, splashing through puddles of muddy brown water and whizzing past quaint farmhouse residences, that we speculated, must have dropped in real estate value over the last decade.

Finally we arrive at the spot and pile out of the cars. We find ourselves in a clearing surrounded by towering majestic pines.

Majestic pines in Belanglo State Forest

Majestic pines tower over the clearing. Pine mushrooms are so named as they have a mycorrhizal relationship with pine trees

Within a millisecond, Lenka pointed out the first saffron milkcap and then another and we crowd around them excitedly. Slavoj unpacked waiting baskets and tools from his boot – and I noted – anyone who travels with multiple baskets ready for an opportune moment of foraging is serious about the craft!

Hiding saffron milkcap mushrooms

Jackpot! Pine mushrooms (or saffron milk caps) hiding under pine needles

We were there primarily to collect the saffron milkcaps or pine mushrooms – a great candidate for amateur foragers as this mushroom’s characteristics of carrot colour, funnel shape, distinctive feature of bleeding orange milk and turning green when bruised make it readily identifiable, and the absence of poisonous lookalike mushrooms is handy peace of mind.

I’ve had some questions on previous blog posts about mushroom collecting ethics and I should take the opportunity to clear some mushrooming myths. Collecting the entire mushroom, base and all, is a MUST for amateur foragers – especially if you are anything but 200% sure of the identity of the mushroom as there are often very important identifying features in the base. For instance, lots of deadly Amanita species can only be readily identified by the existence of a volva sac at the base of the mushroom – foolhardy foragers who cut their mushrooms at the base may be putting their lives, and the lives of others, at risk. The arguments for cutting mushrooms off at the base include the notion that this will aid mushroom reproduction. This is a false belief as the spores or seeds that are responsible for reproduction are usually located in the cap for gilled and most pored mushrooms. By only taking young mushrooms (whole: stem, base and all) and leaving old, spore producing mushrooms untouched and free to disperse their spores is a better way of ensuring mushroom dispersal.

For simplicity’s sake: take this analogy – the mushroom is the fruit of a large mycelial network – an “underground tree of mushrooms” if you like. The seeds of the mushroom fruit are the spores in the cap. If you were to pick fruit off the tree, would leaving part of the fruit on the tree help reproduction and dispersal of the fruit? No.

Having said that, there is 1 good reason one should cut the base off a mushroom – and that is so the dirt and debris doesn’t sully your other clean mushrooms. I have discovered that just 1 dirt speckled mushroom bouncing around in your basket is  enough to effectively spread dirt. The dirt seems to invariably get everywhere and deep into the gills where it stubbornly refuses to dislodge from. So this time, because we were 200% sure we were picking red pine mushrooms or saffron milkcaps, we picked the mushrooms, then duly cut the bases off before placing them in the basket.

So, baskets and knives in hand, L-bean, Spamtaro and I followed Lenka and Slavoj around listening to their wise tips on how to spot a young saffron milkcap and how to handle it.

Lessons in foraging for pine mushroom

Lenka and Slavoj provide expert lessons in pine mushroom foraging

The stems are dry and woody so we were instructed to cut the stem off close to the cap. We learned that smaller specimens tend to also be younger and fresher but that wasn’t always true. Sure signs of a good young mushroom include checking that the cap still has an inrolled margin or curled cap with a white rim around the cap edge; and a good amount of bleeding when the stem was cut off.

Eventually, the Co-pilot returned from his lone forage. When we all listened to the experts about how to pick the best saffron milkcaps, he’d clearly been unable to resist the inner competitive urge to hunt, honed from decades of family Easter Egg Hunts and had long powered off into the forest. He now proudly showed us a basket full of large and dirty mushrooms, the bases still intact and the dirt contaminating every clean surface of the mushrooms. What an amateur! Thankfully, Lenka patiently helped him sort through his find.

Red pine mushroom quality control

Quality control on the Co-pilot's haul of saffron milkcap mushrooms

After a mere 30 minutes, we’d each collected a satisfying mound of mushrooms. Lenka and Slavoj had enough mushrooms for their needs and called it quits and we’d only covered a tiny fraction of the fertile mushrooming ground.

Pine mushroom foraging success

Baskets piled high with mounds of pine mushrooms - not bad for 30 minutes foraging!

Perfect pine mushroom specimens

Perfect pine mushroom specimens

On cue, we hear the cars and visitors before we see them round the bend into the clearing. A convoy of three cars roared into view, jovial folk music blaring from the open windows, and a small child was even standing up in the front passenger seat of first car, her head barely above the sunroof as though she was the all-important navigator in the ship’s crow’s nest. Upon seeing us, then spotting our laden baskets, they threw their hands up in frustration and roared on to the next clearing, their music growing gradually distant, but always audible. The magic was broken and it was time for us to visit the next patch.

Though it was still months away from slippery jack season, Lenka and her father were insistent on showing us where their favoured slippery jack spot was, in case we wanted to return for foraging without them. Such a generous gift didn’t go unnoticed – this is the forager equivalent of welcoming a stranger whole-heartedly into your home! Particularly when we note that foraging for and supplying wild mushrooms to major Sydney produce markets is big business for Lenka.

Back into the car we bundled and a few more rabbit turns later, we found ourselves at another clearing. This one was significantly different to the first, the ground was drier, the pine trees and foliage younger and sparsely set. As predicted, it had been too early for slippery jacks to emerge, and apart from a small rogue button slippery jack, we found nothing. No mushrooms of any sort. It just illustrated how important Lenka’s guidance on the saffron milkcap spot had been – if we’d stumbled on a spot like the slippery jack spot first, we would have undoubtedly assumed that it was either too dry, too early, or the conditions too poor for mushrooms. The assumption would definitely not have been that we just needed to search different parts of the forest.

Slippery jack mushroom foraging

Foraging for slippery jack mushrooms in a young patch of pines

We turned to leave and that’s when we spotted …the bones.

Bones in Belanglo State Forest

Exactly what I didn't want to find. Bones. In Belanglo State Forest.

A long femur like bone lay a few paces before us and stopped us dead in our tracks. I forgot how to think, and quite frankly, adopted the defence strategy of the Costa Rican agouti, a dim animal that first flounders then freezes on the spot. Eventually, our legs propelled us forward and our tongues unfroze and we moved in to examine the bones. Beyond the long femur were some spinal bones – all white, bone dry and picked clean. Then we spotted what looked like a pelvis, and it appeared far too narrow to be human. We deduced it might have been a small kangaroo or joey eaten by one of the foxes endemic in the area. Not wholly convinced, but our consciences satisfied enough with the answer, we left the area at a brisk trot.

We bid goodbye to Lenka and Slavoj who had to hurry back to the markets to relieve Lenka’s mother manning the stall on her own and our little crew of foragers continued on to try our luck catching yabbies instead.

The yabby is a 10-legged crustacean (decapod) under the Cherax genus, apparently a derivation of the Greek word “Charax“, which means “pointed stake” or “thing that scratches” (personally, I could’ve come up with a more graphic application for a stake then “a thing that scratches”).  The most common yabby farmed in aquaculture and found in the wild on the Australian eastern seaboard is the fearsomely named Cherax Destructor, so named because this yabby has an annoying habit of burrowing sideways through soft irrigation banks and leaching the water out of ponds and dams. The yabby tends to breed in the spring and summer, very little during winter and during times of drought or stress burrow deep into the ground below the water table. Specifically, they grow best at temperatures exceeding 15 degrees C so whether or not yabbies are in season and plentiful depends on the location and temperature. For us, we deemed it perfect yabby harvesting season, as they’ve had a long hot summer to fatten up.

To counteract my inexperience in the field of yabby fishing, I researched the process extensively from ideal baits to trapping methods. Surprisingly, though it may not be intuitive, a fishing license is required for collecting yabbies in some states, including NSW, and a 3 day license will set you back a mere $6. The recommended trap was a regulation compliant operahouse style yabby trap, which will usually cost about $10 and are available from many tackle shops. Bait is always a critical element in fishing success and I scoured the fishing forums for a definitive bait, the consensus on which seemed that smelly off meat worked best as yabbies are scavengers (best not to think about what those yabbies are growing fat on), and one avid angler even claimed an Aboriginal secret yabby bait was road-kill bird singed in a fire. Not quite dedicated enough to the task to scrape roadkill off the local freeway, I settled for Chinese roast duck and chunks of raw sausage left out in the sun to ripen for a day.

Hunting yabbies at Dalys Clearing in Belanglo

Hunting yabbies at Dalys Clearing in Belanglo

We arrived at Dalys Clearing, a popular campsite in the forest with a shallow pond of murky brown water and fringed by pine trees. Wasting no time, we set up our trap, stuffing great morsels of smelly bait into the bait holder and placing the trap near the shoreline close to debris, where yabbies like to hide. And then we stared at the pond intently for some time, half hoping to see the water churn and boil with yabby activity as they scrambled to cram themselves into our waiting trap.

Waiting for yabbies

Watching for yabbies to leap into our waiting trap

To wile away the time, we set up some hand reels and tied pieces of the bait to the line and tossed those in as well. And that’s when we spotted a yabby, barely visible and hiding in the shadow of a fallen branch. I whooped in excitement, calling the others over and then remembering the hunt was at stake starting shushing everyone and myself, tip toeing around in case excessive noise would alert the creatures and scare them from our trap. With yabbies sighted, our prospects just increased 10-fold!

We decided the best strategy was to leave the trap undisturbed whilst we broke for lunch but as it was already late in the day and we had no intentions of being caught in the forest after dark, in the end we only left the trap in for little over an hour.

The ever logical Co-pilot reasoned that we needed about 15 yabbies each or 60 in total to make for a satisfying meal worth our effort and though the best strategy would have been to set the trap before mushroom foraging, that hadn’t quite worked as planned and we were behind schedule. As daylight was rapidly fading, he calculated that we could afford at most another hour, and to catch 60 yabbies in 120 minutes, they’d really need to be fighting their way into our trap at a sprinting rate of 1 yabby every 2 minutes! In the face of his annoying infallible logic, there was much doubt that we’d catch enough yabbies to satisfy the four of us, so we hauled the trap in.

Retrieving the yabby trap

The moment of truth: retrieving the yabby trap with baited breath

Six! Not a massive haul by any stretch but they were my first foraged yabbies, so still a success in my books.

Yabby catching success in Belanglo State Forest

Six aggressive little yabbies ready to nip errant fingers

Like little white dogs, they were small but aggressive and raised their pincers threateningly at us. After the obligatory photo shoot, we returned the yabbies to the pond and watched them shoot away with a quick propulsion of their tails. We threw the remainder of our smelly bait in to aid in the fattening process so that the next yabby forager there might have more luck. Next time, we’ll start the hunt earlier and leave our trap for longer. For now, plans for yabby recipes will have to be shelved.

Cherax destructor Belanglo State Forest

The formidable Cherax destructor of Belanglo

So we failed on the yabby hunting front, but when faced with a more saffron milkcaps than we knew what to do with, we decided to use some of the youngest, freshest specimens for dinner that night and reserved the rest for dehydrating.

Brushed cleaned mushrooms

Pine mushrooms - younger specimens, brushed clean and ready to go

Pine mushroom closeup

A closeup of those pretty fine orange pine mushroom gills

Despite their impressive looks, pine mushrooms actually have a very subtle flavour and requires strong flavours to lift and dress them up. Their flavour and texture lends well to long stews as they can soak up with flavours of stewing liquid. I decided to create a Japanese style warm mushroom salad with strong citrusy yuzu, savoury soy and fragrant sesame flavours to bring the pine mushrooms to life.

.

Warm Pine Mushroom Salad with Yuzu and Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 350g of pine mushrooms (also known as red pine mushrooms or saffron milkcaps)
  • 4 tbsp Japanese  yuzu dressing (a poor substitute if not available might be dashi broth, sugar and lemon zest)
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp salt reduced soy sauce
  • 1tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • white pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • salad leaves  (optional)

Method:

  1. Brush mushrooms clean. Pine mushrooms are not very absorbent and can be washed lightly if necessary.
  2. Slice off stem as close to cap as possible and discard as this is dry and woody. Slice cap into 2cm thick slices. Mushrooms that bleed orange milk profusely are fresh, discard any mushrooms or pieces that don’t bleed as they’ll tend to be dry and woody.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat and saute mushrooms until sweated.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, add dressing and garnish with sesame seeds.

.

Warm mushroom salad dressing

The ingredients for a warm mushroom salad dressing

Bleeding orange milk is a good sign of fresh young mushrooms

Bleeding orange milk is a good sign of fresh young mushrooms

Sauteed pine mushrooms

The pine mushrooms wilt quickly and coat themselves in a sticky sweet orange milk

Warm pine mushroom salad

Warm pine mushroom salad with yuzu and sesame dressing

We found the Japanese flavours worked surprisingly well with the pine mushrooms. Oh, and in case you read my first pine mushroom post and were wondering – yes, I confirmed that pine mushrooms definitely cause red urine. Although the reaction seems to vary between individuals.

We had so many mushrooms still remaining that we couldn’t possibly eat them all so we decided to dehydrate everything else.

Dehydrating saffron milkcaps

Dehydrating the remaining pine mushrooms

Having not ever dehydrated mushrooms before, I wasn’t sure of what to expect or how long it would take. Lenka had explained that the process of dehydration would render the bright orange mushrooms a dark brown-black colour, but on rehydration the orange colour would return and I knew they needed to be potato-chip crispy before they could be considered done. It was a few hours into the drying when we noticed the smell. What started as a ripe, smelly pungent mushroom smell quickly morphed into an even stronger and more recognisable scent. Dried pine mushrooms inexplicably smelt like wet dog.

Dried pine mushrooms

The pine mushrooms lose their vibrant colour when dried, and smell like wet dog

Every time I turned on the dehydrator, plumes of wet dog smells would bloom in our apartment filling every crevice and making us grimace. It invariably made the Co-pilot wail “dawg!” as he pleaded with me to stop the dehydration process, trying in vain to convince me that the pieces were dry enough.

Dehydrated pine mushrooms

Dehydrated pine mushrooms

Eventually after 2 days of being assaulted with offensive wet dog smell, the drying process was finally done and I now have 5 serves of dehydrated pine mushrooms ready to go at a moments notice.

.

With thanks to Lenka and her family for generously taking the time to show us her foraging spots and the secrets of the pine mushroom. The pine mushrooms are currently in season from now (March) and depending on weather conditions may extend till June or beyond. Slippery Jacks tend to start their season during the colder months of late May onwards.


View Belanglo State Forest in a larger map

Related Posts with Thumbnailsfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather
twittergoogle_plusrssby feather

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miss Piggy March 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm

You’re very brave heading to Belanglo State Forest – glad you made it out alive. What an interesting adventure though…looks like great fun.
Miss Piggy recently posted..Hikaru- NewtownMy Profile

2 Melissa March 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

that looks like so much fun! delicious pine mushrooms!
Melissa recently posted..Cumulus Inc- MelbourneMy Profile

3 Jenny @ Musings and Morsels March 21, 2011 at 12:21 am

You are indeed crazy to venture out there but craziness is also a trait among the gifted, advanced or talented, so it can’t be all bad. And when one returns with a basket of mushrooms and yabbies, all is quickly forgotten, I’m sure. This is a stunning effort of a post. Just brilliant.

Oh and according to Jamie Oliver, a mix of lime, grapefruit and tangerine or clementine juice produces a dressing very similar to yuzu.

4 Vivienne March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

haha what a fun and education post to read…i always feel like i learn a lot from your posts ;)

yeah i dunno whether that ‘pls be careful’ sign is for real or not haha dodgy.

the orange of the mushroom is gorgeous…id love to see the dark brown dehydrated mushroom turn back to orange upon hydration! wow!
Vivienne recently posted..Dulce de Leche éclairsMy Profile

5 Tori (@eat-tori) March 22, 2011 at 5:33 am

What an adventure. Loved vicariously tagging through every paragraph. Can’t wait to see what the dehydrated mushrooms turn up in…

6 Howard March 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Fantastic post, nice and refreshing read as well. Can one just rock up into the forest and ‘forage’?
Howard recently posted..Nhem Khao- Laotian crisp rice saladMy Profile

7 OohLookBel March 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm

You’d definitely unearth some unusual finds in Belanglo! But yay! for mushrooms. I hope the wet dog smell was worth it; please show us what you do with the dried mushies.
OohLookBel recently posted..The return of the Quinoa now with harissa meatballsMy Profile

8 Sophia March 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm

That’s crazy how much they change when dried, but awesome that their colour returns when rehydrated

9 penny aka jeroxie March 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

What a big haul! Love to be able to do that this year but will be away. bummer.
penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Garden Tuscany- Moonee PondsMy Profile

10 Conor @ Hold the Beef March 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I could only comfortably read this by telling myself you must have made it out alive in order to have written this post ;)

That “please be careful” sign is super creepy.

Also, how awesome are Lenka and her family!

11 Helen (grabyourfork) March 25, 2011 at 2:11 am

Wow what a fantastic adventure. The discovery of bones would have both fascinated and freaked me out. Nice forensic work though!

12 rosie March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Big mistake – I read your blog hungry. I LOVE mushrooms, I LOVE foraging. Next time take ME!! Much love Rosie
rosie recently posted..Paint Party FridayMy Profile

13 Tina@foodboozeshoes March 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Mmmm… wet dog…!
I don’t think you could get me to Belanglo if we were hunting Manolos…
Tina@foodboozeshoes recently posted..Asia tripping – part IV- Hanoi- VietnamMy Profile

14 mademoiselle délicieuse March 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Oh, this is a wonderful tale of where food meets suspense! Most amused that drying pine mushrooms emits odours of wet dog. And love how you and the Co-Pilot are such scientific, rational individuals.

Looking forward to yabby tales in future =)

15 Bonnibella March 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

What an interesting tale of the forest and your expedition. I found it curious that it would dehydrating the mushroom gave off a “wet dog” smell, that is certainly an unpleasant smell. The recipe looks good and meaty, I have to try it if I ever find Pine mushrooms.
Bonnibella recently posted..Photo Essay of Paris Trip February 2011My Profile

16 MICHAL March 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm

A pleasant read. I’m planning to head out to Belanglo State forest this weekend to do exactly what you have done. Pick mushrooms and catch yabbies with my 3.5 yr old daughter. Being born and raised in Poland I’ve been gathering mushroom since early childhood but thanks to your post I finally learned the english name for this type :) . Should be a fun day, weather permitting.

17 The Italian April 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Awesome Blog..

After spending a few European Autumn’s in the North of Italy and getting hooked on porcini and chiodini (Honey Mushroom) Hunting, along with the aroma of toasted Chestnuts, I suspected some of the pine plantations around Moss Vale would harvest some great Mushroom Fields.

I was in Moss Vale last week and stopped in at their information centre and asked about foraging for mushrooms in the local state forests and i had no luck as they advised me that the region was famous for wine and not the Mushroom. The only thing they could help me with was a map of local pine plantations.

Proficient in the northern hemisphere, i have to admit my knowledge of local Mushrooms has been limited till now. I commend you on your adventures and am now a keen follower of the Gourmet Forager..

I would love to learn the whereabouts of your find, though that would take away a lot of the excitement of finding them ourselves.. Should you ever what to forage the North of Italy.. I know where a good days find is measured in the several Kilos..

My Mate the Spaniard and I will be descending on the calmness of Belanglo – Hopefully we come out alive to tell the story..

The Italian

18 Susan April 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Oh we used to go mushroom picking when I was a child and it was so much fun, although we got sick of mushroom soup by the end of it! I always get scared every time I drive past belangelo from Canberra to Sydney, although it looks really beautiful in the forest.
Susan recently posted..Claypot Chicken RiceMy Profile

19 Forager April 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Hey Miss Piggy – You and me alike! I’m even more glad we came out alive too! But that wasn’t really a danger – we were in great company and it was all in the mind. A shame that forest is forever tainted by the events there.

Hey Melissa – It was. Even though we weren’t too successful yabbying, I had a great day out foraging with friends. Autumn is such an awesome time to be in the forests.

Hey Jenny – Ha! I think we did err on the side of madness for that trip – and a basketful of yabbies would have sweetened the reward somewhat too. Well – I hope next time we’ll have better luck catching those critters. And thanks for the yuzu sauce substitute tip too!

Hey Vivienne – Hard to know about that sign – whether it has always read that, or whether it was put up after the events occurred. Either way – it’s a sobering sign that sends chills down my spine.

Hey Tori – See the upcoming next posts on pulled beef and pine mushroom cannelloni!

Hey Howard – Yes, well sort of. When foraging for mushrooms and plant matter yes, rock up but do it with a bunch of mushroom foraging guides to ensure you don’t end up in hospital! As for yabbies – you actually need a fishing license for yabby foraging – about $6 per day in NSW.

Hey OohLookBel – I’m glad we didn’t unearth any more than those bones. And I’m glad I didn’t find those bones at night too! Eek!

Hey Sophia – Now that I’ve done the dehydration + rehydration – I can safely say that the orange colour returns somewhat, but not entirely like the bright fluoro orange colour when fresh. To be expected I guess.

Hey Penny – Well, I’m sure they will still be around next year when you’re ready to forage!

Hey Conor – I’m not sure whether we’re reading into an innocent sign too much, but yes, super creepy and doesn’t invoke a great deal of confidence.

Hey Helen – Undoubtedly, the scariest part of the day, just when we were feeling comfortable. We were pretty sure they were animal bones – didn’t check too closely mind you and a little too eager to classify them as animal to be honest. Gives me the hebe jeebes thinking about it.

Hey Rosie – You have to foraging research for NZ – where and what can we forage for there? More oysters and mussels would be a great start!

Hey Tina – I more than understand. And no, wet dog isn’t a great lure either!

Hey mademoiselle delicieuse – Ha, you understand me so well. I’m definitely going to try my hand at yabbying again. Not giving up that easily!

Hey Bonnibella – You’re telling me! The smell was utterly offensive. So unexpected from a subtle flavoured mushroom!

Hey Michal – That is such a fantastic tradition to bring the next generation into. Your little girl is a sure lucky little thing – I can imagine how much fun mushrooms and yabbies can be for a kid! Hope the trip went well!

Hey The Italian – Oh I wish the plentiful wild mushrooms we have here was as tasty as the porcini and honey mushrooms – sadly, both pine mushrooms and slippery jacks are very subtle in flavour and need a bit of mushroom flavour aid to boost their flavour. I’m very happy to have inspired you though and good luck on your foraging adventures. Lenka tells me that the slippery jacks have started there already and she has harvested 35kg already!!! With the recent rain I think you’ll be in luck there. Start near Daley’s Clearing – where the yabbies were. There are pine mushrooms right nearby.

Hey Susan – The forest does get a bad rap, but it is really peaceful and beautiful in there – if the scars of early mushroom picking have healed it’s not a bad idea to gather a group of friends for foraging. Try the salad recipe – a good alternative from soup or the more common pasta recipes!

20 NSF April 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I’m very glad this time you cut the stems off to prevent dirt getting into the gills. Although, ideally there are two more things you could do…

1. Don’t pull the mushrooms from the ground, reach down and cut the stem where it is. With a little practise you can do this without laying a finger on the gills, so no damage is done, so no bleeding, so no green oxidisation.

2. If you are going to the trouble of cutting the stems off, then you might as well put them in the basket gill side down. This has 2 benefits, it means no dirt can fall off other shrooms and get into the gills and 2 it gives more chance for the spores to drop out as you are walking around. Hopefully spreading them far and wide, maybe creating more for next year.
NSF recently posted..Re: First edible grow suggestionsMy Profile

21 Yuri A May 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Thanks for interesting stories about adventures in forest. I usually go there in May. But may be I’m wrong as sometimes no mushrooms in this period. Could somebody give me advice for BEST MONTH (beginning,middle,end) and inform how far from first sign at entrance I should go in Belanglo for mushrooms ( 1 0r 2 0r 3 km ?). Please open small secrets.

22 Lenka June 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Yuri, we were still picking a lot of pines all thru May, you need to go all the way to the back of Belanglo forest and then turn right until you find older growth forest. Slippery Jacks grow right untill the end of winter, sometimes till the end of August and these grow to the left of the forest in the younger growth. Good luck

23 Oxana May 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Hi All! Thank you so much for the stories and information! I want to go mushroom picking to Belanglo but not too sure about the rules. Can i just stop anywhere and start picking or is there particular hours you can enter? Could someone help? Also, the temperature is dropping so not sure if i could find any mushrooms these days…advise? Thank you All!

24 Garret October 28, 2013 at 9:44 am

I personally dont think that thoes are real pines cuz i live in british columbia where they grow in large numbers and they dont look anything like the ones out here. they should be white with a vail of skin under the cap enclosing the gills. this is called a number one. the mushrooms your picking in the photos dont look to be the rite color and mite be inedible or another species all together.

25 jenn March 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Mmm
What a read..

We live in that forest and to hear people say they are scared to camp and make it out alive is terrible.
It’s a beautiful place to bring up children

The only dangers are people that come mushroom picking and park on the blind curb as we have loggers and and other trucks flying a long the road.

People are getting sillier and not thinking about how dangerous it is to park and only thinking about the mushroom picking..

That’s the only dangers we have every day when picking is on…

26 Mick April 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm

I do like your mushrooming blogs and miss the saffron milkcaps of the Central West.

Sorry to nit pick, but foxes aren’t endemic to Belangalo (or anywhere else in the Southern hemisphere).

Mick

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: