2014 Year of the Mushrooms: Shaggy Mane
NOTE: THERE ARE MANY VARIETIES OF POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. THEY CAN MAKE YOU ILL OR EVEN KILL YOU. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE YOUR WILD FOOD IDENTIFIED WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY BEFORE CONSUMPTION. This blog post is not a how-to on the identification and the consumption of wild mushrooms. It’s a personal account on my own actions/thoughts.
Pacific West Coast
We’ve had such a remarkable year for mushrooms! There was much bounty from forest into the city– so many varieties and marvellous colours, textures. This past autumn must have been the perfect confluence of timely moisture and the prolonged growing season before the first frost. I’m not a mushroom expert by any stretch of the imagination– just an admirer of all things mycological…. There’s a mycological society in Vancouver— I’ve not yet been to one of their meetings. I teach every other Tuesday evening so I hope this year I’ll be able to drop in on one of their meetings if it falls on a non-work date.
This year I tried eating* my first clutch of shaggy mane! Sarah de Leeuw had spoken to me about their deliciousness, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to try them. But this fall such a gorgeous batch!
A deeply instilled cautiousness about consuming any new (to me) fungus I only took a nibble and waited a few hours to see what would happen. Normally you’re meant to wait 24+ hrs but shaggy mane decomposes extremely fast. I felt no ill effects. And shaggy mane are so distinctive it’s virtually impossible to mistake them for a look-alike (Many mushrooms, both edible and poisonous, can be indistinguishable, especially to the untrained eye/nose– some can only be distinguished by spore prints, so just don’t take the risk my friend! For writers researching horrible ways to die look up the symptoms of death by mushroom!!!).
Into the frying pan with a nice dab of butter!
I seasoned them with a bit of salt and pepper. I’ve never had such tenderness in my mouth…. The texture was incredible and the flavour mild, slightly nutty and pleasing. I can’t wait to forage for more next season. ~__~
I’d also read that shaggy mane is one of the ink cap varieties and, historically, it was used as an ink source. I wondered what kind of ink it would produce so thought I’d experiment with some of the more degraded bits I’d collected.
You’re supposed to consume shaggy manes within a few hours of picking and it was amazing to see why. Once cut the mushroom began liquefying very very quickly.
In four hours there was scarcely any solid remaining.
The ink stinks. I read that monks put cloves in it to deal with this quality. I didn’t bother. I just left it out on my balcony.
The next day I had ink!
I used the ink with a dip pen (of the calligraphy type)– I loved the sepia shade of it! And amused myself with the idea that if I buried my drawing in the soil, maybe new shaggy manes would grow from it creating a perpetual renewal of mushrooms, ink, drawing, mushrooms….
*WARNING!!! Never consume mushrooms without verifying their identification with a professional like your local mycological society, etc. Mushrooms can be extremely dangerous. Every year people die from mistaking poisonous mushrooms as edible.