Off Season Hunting

1468461099047Minnesota brings on another great season, foraging! This can be a very rewarding hunting season. In the off season we are out checking trail cameras, wondering how many babies are born from deer, bear, and turkeys.  This is an exciting time of year. We always like to evaluate how the winter went.  While out in the woods there are so many things coming alive to harvest as fresh produce from the woods. Things I look for early are watercress, small fern fiddle heads, oyster mushrooms, and baby nettles. These are all little gems of the Minnesota woods. Later in June to early July we are spoiled with more mushrooms and berries! This year we have had tons of rain so there is always a mushroom to forage.

Prime time to go out and look is always after it rains. About 2 days and some warm temps always push these gems into sight!

Questions about if something is edible are always key. While learning about the kinds that are OK to eat, I studied with a good mushroom identification book and online forums. Facebook has lots to look for. When out foraging for them, I like to stick to a couple very easily identified kinds. I am not going to get extremely technical about each kind but here is my short list!

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1. Oyster mushrooms, usually always parasitic on dead dying trees.  Amazing edible. These you can find lots of times of the season.
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2. Chanterelle mushrooms, usually on forest floor. Nutty, apricot like flavor. July is the best time to look for them!
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3. Chicken of the woods, bright yellow to orange. Large masses that are amazing sautéed up.
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4. Lobster mushrooms, bright orange, show up later in the summer. They taste just like seafood. Amazing!
5. Hen of the woods, again usually on oak trees at the base.  Great for frying and sautéed.
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6. Boletus, porcini mushrooms.  These are fantastic as well. You can cook multiple ways.
These also have pores instead of gills which helps identify them easier.

Always carry a good reference. I like to take lots of pictures so them I can really study how they look. Never eat unless you know what it is. You can also do spore prints, another great way to identify kinds. I like to stay with the six mushrooms listed above. For me these are the best of all the edibles and easy to identify!

Its rained so often here this year it has been a benefit to wear my ScentBlocker Drencher pants and jacket as we are constantly cutting through wet brush! I really love the cut on this set. For a women’s cut it is nice and roomy for putting on over your clothes or base layers. Soft and quiet is always important to me as well. We cannot forget to talk about protecting the family with Bug Blocker for Ticks (it kills ticks for 10 days on our boots and clothing) and Bug Blocker for Insects (for your personal use). We spend hours in the woods and when mushroom hunting you are usually in dense woods with thousands of mosquitoes and ticks! This will actually last all day for us! It also helps with the horse flies!!! This is always with me in backpack. Mushroom hunting is such a great way to involve the kids. It is one of our favorite past times while out in the woods!

You can follow my recipes at www.facebook/mnfieldtofork

Chanda Gebhardt

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