Sunday, September 16, 2018

Identifying and foraging wild black trumpet mushrooms. Edible, delicious, and easy to ID

This is probably a mushroom I should have introduced in year one. The common name: black trumpet, actually refers to several closely related species: Craterellus fallax (North America), Craterellus cornucopioides (Europe), Craterellus foetidus (Eastern and Mid Western North America), Craterellus caeruleofuscus (North American Great Lakes region), and possibly more. Some of these names are being re-evaluated in the age of DNA testing, and there may prove to be either more or fewer species than we thought. 

In addition to numerous scientific names, these mushrooms also go by a variety of common names,  including: horn of plenty, trumpet of death / trumpet de la mort (in France), devil's trumpet or devil's horn, and black chanterelle. 

From a culinary and foraging standpoint, all of the above appear nearly identical, taste about the same, and can only be distinguished with location, spore prints, microscopic analysis, or small details present in large collections. From here on we will treat them as one in the same. 

This is one of the best tasting wild edible mushrooms you can find. I prefer black trumpets to their more famous cousins, the chanterelles, and to the king bolete/porcini or morels. I compare their flavor positively to truffles, the most expensive of all fungus. However, if you were to simply cook these as you would any other mushroom, they would taste good, but you would be missing out on the best ways to use their flavor. 

Best of all, black trumpets are incredibly easy to ID, with no poisonous look-a-likes, making them perfect for the beginner mushroom hunter. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Telluride Mushroom Festival, pt.5: Shrimp Russula

So for my 5th micro-post about what we found at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, another new-to-me mushroom: Russula xeramlelina (and friends), commonly known as the shrimp Russula. It's pretty much the only member of the genus considered to be a choice edible.

Technically R. xeramleina is a European species only, but it's only recently that we realized that the N. American ones are genetically distinct. There are so so many species and subspecies that are classified as "shrimp Russula". According to Michael Kuo, here are the red-cappedAmerican ones: R. squalida (is that the squalid Russula? ),  R. fucosa and R texensis; the latter two are quite rare.

Most, if not all, guidebooks identify the shrimp Russula as R. xeramleina, as they haven't been updated recently. So I really have no idea exactly which variety we were finding in Colorado.

Let's talk about identification, because despite working with local experts, I'm not sure I could ID this one again. It really confuses me!