Saturday, September 16, 2006

My mushroom bounty

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Estonia seems to trigger the hunter-gatherer in me. In July I took pleasure in looking for wild strawberries and cloudberries. This time around I was fighting prickly fallen branches and annoying deer-flies, while trying to tell an edible mushroom from a non-edible or even poisonous one. This was harder than I thought. Although forageing for wild mushrooms was something I did often as a child, I've led a rather urban life for the last decade or so. So no wonder I greedily managed to gather a whole lot of non-edible brown roll-rim mushrooms (Paxillus involutus) in my basket, before I was told to discard them then and there. Ouch. Embarrassing. But then these fungi were probably too plentiful and suspiciously pretty and, well, simply too good to be true.

The summer in Estonia was very hot and very dry, seriously affecting the wild mushroom harvest this year. Althought the last few weeks have seen some rain, we weren't too optimistic when we drove to K.'s secret forest last Sunday. However, after just a few hours in the forest, I had nevertheless amassed a rather respectable pile of mushrooms. As you can see on the top picture, I collected some grogers (Lactarius deterrimus), woolly milk caps (Lactarius torminosus), ugly milk-caps (Lactarius turpis), tiny puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum), orange-capped boletes (Leccinum aurantiacum), gypsy mushrooms (Rozites caperata), russula mushrooms, and many more. I, for certain, was pleased with my beautiful and colourful bounty.

Here's a picture of me picking up another rufuous milkcap (Lactarius rufus) - a delicious mushroom that is poisonous when eaten raw, edible when par-boiled couple of times and turned into a sauce, and very delicious when pickled. If you click on the picture to enlarge, you can try to see how many other mushrooms can you spot.

The gypsy mushrooms were simply fried in butter, seasoned with basil and eaten for lunch with mashed potatoes straight after getting home - such a fragrant mushroom, with a beautiful flavour and slightly meaty texture. The various boletes and puffballs were pan-fried, mixed with some cream cheese and garlic and used as a topping for a earthy and rustic mushroom quiche on the following day (I used the same rye flour crust that I use for salmon and cream cheese canapés). And the milkcaps and russulas were par-boiled and pickled, to be consumed as condiment and garnish during winter (like in this salad cocktail).

I'll be back in that very forest for some more mushrooms and cranberries next month. Cannot wait!

Disclaimer: All photos here were taken by my personal photographer, K. His pictures will be featuring regularly on my blog from now onwards, and copyright is all mine;)


Anonymous said...

Lactarius turpis (seaseeneks seda meie kandis kutsutakse)kuulutati mõne aasta eest väga kahjulikuks seeneks, sest sisaldavat kantserogeenseid aineid. Omal ajal sai neid k6vasti korjatud ja söödud küll. Ilusad nad on ja kahju metsa jätta, aga mina neid enam ei korja.

Anonymous said...

While reading this blog I stumbled over philosophical question: is a good-tasting, but poisonous mushroom edible or non-edible? The question arose as I have eaten fried, not boiled brown roll-rim mushrooms and they actually taste pretty good. Only later these mushrooms were declared by experts poisonous. From my point of view as a serious gourmand I would consider overcooked fish non-edible, while poisonous but delicious meal is fully acceptable for last supper :-)

Brilynn said...

I love picking morels and puffballs. I've never picked the puffballs when they're tiny though, only when they're about soccer ball size, and then I fry them up like steaks in lots of butter, yum!

Clivia said...

What a basket! And I don´t recognize any of them... Well, maybe the brown with freckles in the top right corner is a sandsopp. I haven´t had time for proper mushroom picking yet but after tomorrow there will be more time.

Orchidea said...

Beautiful basket! I love mushrooms... Porcini are my favorite. You can find many in Sweden too.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You picked all that! wonderful!


neil said...

I've often wondered about those mauve russulas, we've seen plenty where we pick but no-one is picking them, so we don't either. If your still well in six months, maybe we will try some too!!! I've read somewhere that if you eat to many second class mushrooms i.e. ones you have to boil to make safe, over time you can accumulate them in your system and bad effects can follow. It was good advice to remove the poisonous mushrooms from your basket, as the spore can be poisonous too.

Thredahlia said...

Mmmmm, kui mõnus pilt! Tahan ka seenele :)

x said...

this basket looks amazing Pille. I can't tell you how jealous I am. And your photographer is doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

Your basket looks very impressive! I loved going to the woods with my grandma, she was a real pro concerning wild mushrooms. While she filled basket after basket, I was hunting down the poisonous ones, just to see if I could distinguish them from the rest.

Anonymous said...

it's october
i want mushrooms. WHERe?
i live in glasgow, can't seem to fall onto a good spot

Pille said...

Anonymous - uurisin seda tõmmuriisikate värki internetist ja väga vastuolulist infot sai. Nt OÜ Viiberg müüb tõmmuriisikaid ja ajalehedki propageerivad neid. Kui muid seeni pole, siis vast korjan natukene edaspidigi, aga igatahes tänud info eest!

Bernard - great question! I definitely agree on the last supper point, but as I still hope to live many long and happy years to come, I'll steer away from poisonous ones.

Brilynn - maybe the puffballs we have in Estonia are slightly different, because they go dark and powdery when they grow much bigger? I'd love to eat some giant puffball steaks thou!

Clivia - have you had a chance to go to the forests yet? I really wish I could find trattkantareller in Estonia, which seem to abundant in Sweden & Finland, and which I like a lot.

Orchidea - my bf found a boletus edulis/porcini in the forest last weekend, but other boletus-mushrooms seem to be more common.

Paz - I did indeed, and I was very proud of myself:)

Neil - those russulas (I think it's Russula emetica on the picture) are definitely considered edible in Estonia, they just need to be cooked before to make them digestible and get rid of the poisons:)

Thredahlia - tänud. Ja mina tahaks väga minna sinna salapärasesse kukeseenemetsa, kus Sina pidevalt käid. Tahan ka kukeseenepulbrit kastmesse raputamiseks ning võiga praetud seeni röstisaiale!

Chloe - my photographer is wonderful indeed:)

Nicky - going to the forest with my bf and his mum is almost like going to the woods with my grandma - these are the very same woods, you see:) I guess visiting those old childhood haunts make these forest-visits so much more enchanting..

Paddy Hanna - well, I don't know either, but I've got some Russian friends here in Edinburgh that regularly go mushroom-forageing somewhere nearby and always find loads. And then invite me over to eat them:) Also, Valvona & Crolla (you'll find a link on my front page) organises wild mushroom hunting tours in the autumn - maybe you could hook up with them?

Anonymous said...

Huvitav! Mu vanaema teadis palju seentest, mina vaid ostan poest. I live in the United States now and my husband (American, not Estonian) thinks Estonians have a fixation about mushrooms. He might be right... I've taught him to say "Käi seenele!" amongst other important phrases.

Anyway I'm just researching photos for an illustration I'm doing and it was very interesting reading your blog.