Iknow, I know, you’re all thinking I’m crazy, but after the rain, the underground “internet” of mycelium is incubating. Mushrooms are being born.
Mycelium or mushroom “spawn” is the vegetative portion of fungus that digests food under the right conditions – ideally damp, soggy, but not too cold.
The mycelium bundles together in a series of complex knots, which forms and supports the growth of what we know as mushrooms. When we get heavy rains, like we have been getting in late May and early to mid June, you better believe, when the sun starts shining the ‘shrooms will be “popping up” like rockets blasting into space.
I really look forward to this time, and if you know where and how to look, you will be rewarded with delectable collectibles for weeks to come.
The delicious boletus edulis, or porcini mushroom, has a short growing season in the Yukon so get out there quickly! (PHOTO: Jeffery Mickelson)
I have good books to help me identify wild mushrooms, and the common sense to be 100 per cent sure about my identification before indulging. Be sure you do the same.
I’ve discovered and pick 19 species of mushrooms in the Yukon, but am always finding more. Whenever I find a new species, I go through a series of tests and if identification is getting on the sketchy side of things, it gets photographed and tossed in the bin.
After all, you didn’t pay for them, so why take the risk? I use the photos and field data to later try to identify them.
Mushrooms to look for in late June, early July include, summer porcini, field mushrooms, oysters, comb tooth, morels and various leccinum boletus.
By early July, a lot of stuff dies off. Then we get a second flush in late August and early September when the ground starts getting damp soggy and cold again.
As far as books go, David Arora’s Mushrooms Demystified is by far my favourite go-to guide.
Go out, have fun, watch for bears, and remember, “There’s cooking mushrooms and there’s looking mushrooms.”
Whole Roasted Porcini Mushrooms Wrapped in Pancetta
This is not so much a recipe but more of a technique that I very seldom get to break out, as our porcini season in the Yukon is so short!
1 whole porcini mushroom (boletus edulis)
3 slices homemade or high quality store bought pancetta (if you make your own bacon, use that instead)
2-3 good sprigs of wild sage
good olive oil
salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 450F.
- Take the whole mushroom and make an incision all the way from the top to the bottom, cutting only three quarters of the way through.
- Season inside of the mushrooms with salt pepper and stuff in the springs of wild sage. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and close it back up.
- Take your slices of pancetta and wrap them around the mushroom. Hold it all together with toothpicks.
- Rub some more olive oil over the whole mushroom and place it in a roasting pan. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes or until mushroom has gotten a little soft and pancetta is crispy.
- Serve with good bread, mixed greens of your choice, some more olive oil and vinegar of your choice (I like red wine vinegar).