So far this has been a great year for mushrooms with a very wet and cool summer providing perfect conditions for a huge variety of species to start appearing. Autumn seems to be with us already after yet another disappointing summer here in the UK, yet already we've seen a massive amount of mushrooms in our forests and woodlands.
I've only been on a few forest walks in the recent weeks yet I've managed to see a great number of different varieties of mushrooms. I've seen Hedgehog (Hydnum repandum) mushrooms , Ceps (Boletus edulis), Chanterelles, Parasol mushrooms, Giant puffballs, Amethyst deceivers and of course field mushrooms. The best places to find these species are in Oak forests, Beech forests, and other old grassland areas. Parasol mushrooms love to grow in fields and amongst bracken, as do giant puffballs which also love to grow amongst stinging nettles. Chanterelles like to grow in moist ditches on the edges of forests, usually appearing in the same spot every year.
We're only a few weeks into Autumn and so this is a very good sign for mushroom lovers here in England, and as winter comes theres bound to be loads of Oyster mushrooms to be found, along with many other species. Make the most of the abundance of mushrooms out in our forests now, but remember not to pick above the allowed 1.5kg limit per person (which, in our eyes, is too much anyway), and remember its illegal to collect for commercial reasons. In our part of England we're having a real problem with people collecting way above the limit and doing so for commercial reasons - either selling the mushrooms on to restaurants or shops.
If you find yourself having picked too many mushrooms then possible to consume, then you should consider the options of freezing or drying, depending on the species. Hedgehog mushrooms freeze quite well but can hold a lot of moisture - so when it comes to cooking them they release a lot of water. Another option is drying them - just slice the mushrooms thinly and lay them out on a wire rack and place in a warm cupboard, such as a boiler cupboard or airing cupboard. The mushrooms can then be re-constituted with water when ready for using. This method of preserving mushrooms works particularly well with species of Bolettes.
I'll try and add some mushroom recipes to our wild food blog over the course of the next few weeks.