We headed out of town last Friday afternoon to see if we could spot some early fall mushrooms with our friends Jon and Vicki. Jon drove us up a beautiful curvy road to some of his secret hunting grounds near Corbett, Oregon, where he thought we might be able to gather chanterelles and perhaps some lobster mushrooms.
Jon pulled off onto a generous shoulder just past some clear-cut land. After assembling our baskets, buckets, knives, and guidebooks, Jon led us down a dirt road to where the trees started to grow up around us on both sides. We soon abandoned the road for the forest, cutting up a fairly steep embankment and onto the squishy decomposing forest floor. It smelled like new dirt and the sun revealed dust and spores hanging in the air.
We still haven’t had much rainfall yet this autumn, so the pickings were somewhat slim. Jon found a few scattered chanterelles as we made our through the trees. We walked for what felt like an hour before we spotted a large brainy-looking fungus (a cauliflower mushroom) in a spotlight of sunshine, just where the forest met the stumps of clear-cut.
Buoyed by this victory, we ducked back into the forest to keep looking and found ourselves traversing a steep southern slope. Suddenly Jon stuck his hands and knife into a hole and brought out a beautiful chanterelle. Soon all four of us had spotted bits of orange hiding beneath mossy loam and pine needles. Using our knives or sticks, we unearthed a few modest handfuls and put them into our receptacles. We crouched and scooted ourselves along the ground now, looking and looking, but only happened upon one more small cluster.
On our way back to the car we spotted an old yellow logging truck, and other metal debris in the forest.
On Sunday we cooked up this first humble basketful of mushrooms with butter, garlic, lemon zest, and cream and spooned it onto crostini. The forecast predicts rain this week. With any luck, we’ll be back in the forest in a few weeks to look for more. In the meantime, we’re investigating preservation methods and collecting recipes. Let us know if you have any tips!