I Shall Call Him Yorick…


…and then eat him. (Puffball!)

Also found: my first-ever foraged Hen of the Woods a.k.a. maitake (about 7 pounds):


I will dehydrate them and then eat them too!

We had a megaton of rain over the weekend and that with the unseasonable warmth has produced an extended season and a bumper crop. Thank you, rain!

Open thread for all things mushroomy and otherwise.

64 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    2 weeks or so ago I had a couple of huge hen of the woods on my place, unfortunately at the time my shoulder was very questionable and I was afraid if I got down I might not manage getting back up w/o retearing my just repaired shoulder. Long gone now. At least it was a good year for chantarelles. A very good year.

    ETA Nice puffball by the way

  2. 2
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    That is a large (and vaguely unsettling) mushroom!

  3. 3
    lowercase steve says:

    I enjoy hen-of-the-woods. I freaking love chicken-of-the-woods. Amazing.

  4. 4
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What a sad tale! Next time that happens I suggest you call a local mycology club and offer to split the bounty if someone comes over to harvest and help with cleaning. // I hope your shoulder is better!

  5. 5
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet): From some angles it looks just like a brain. And it looks great just sitting there, taking up most of the top shelf in our fridge. If I weren’t planning on eating it, I would paint a face on it and invite some innocent, unsuspecting soul to open the fridge, and bwa haha!

  6. 6
    geg6 says:

    A friend at work just gave me a Hen of the Woods her husband found the other day. Actually, he found several and she brought me just the one. It’s huge, as large as a very large head of cabbage and probably weighs at least 7 pounds. It broke the bag I was carrying it in on my way out to the car with it. Used some for a pizza the other night. Not sure what I’ll do with the rest.

  7. 7
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @lowercase steve: Because of the favorable conditions I’m taking a lot of time off this week to mushroom. I will be happy for more maitake, trumpets, oysters, etc., but COTW will be my primary target!

  8. 8
    Kropadope says:

    But in an encouraging sign for Republicans who hope that their party has not transformed permanently into the Trump Party, a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted earlier this month shows only 13 percent of Republican voters would want to nominate Trump again in 2020 if he loses this year.

    I’m kinda curious what percentage of them want to re-nominate him in 2020 if he’s elected.

    ETA: The article is a challenge to Republican officeholder to repudiate Trump’s rigged rhetoric if (when) Hillary wins.

  9. 9
    gogol's wife says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet):

    This is all reminding me of a couple of Midsomer Murders episodes. Or maybe it was just one — a guy got shot by an arrow just as he found a hen of the woods. Then later the guy who shot him got an “avenging angel” mixed in the mushrooms he was about to saute. It did not end well. But Barnaby straightened it all out.

  10. 10
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @geg6: My suggestion would be to dehydrate if you have a dehydrator, and use them in sauces, scrambles, etc. throughout the season. Along with the flavor, I think foraged mushrooms are really healthy.

    How was the pizza?

  11. 11
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @gogol’s wife: I heard that Dorothy Sayers (I think) also has a death-by-mushroom twist in one of her books. Speaking purely theoretically, of course, if one were bent on murdering someone, mushrooms would probably be one of the safest methods, in that it would be hard to prove intent.

  12. 12
    germy says:

    I am heartbroken. We just consumed our last Wiri Wiri pepper. My wife got two plants, we put them in containers in a sunny spot outside our house, and the little red things started sprouting. They’re hot as hell; I learned that the hard way. But if you cook them in a crockpot with vegetables and meat, or if you stuff them into chicken before baking, their heat dissipates and what’s left is a delicious flavor I can’t describe.

    Last week we cooked them with some salmon. Delicious. But the last pepper is gone. Next year we’d like to plant twice as much.

  13. 13
    daryljfontaine says:

    My brother and his wife live in northern Minnesota and go mushroom hunting frequently — this year, she’s posted various hauls of chanterelle, hedgehog, bolete, lobster, oyster, and puffball. They also grow a substantial portion of their own vegetables, and he fishes at his cabin in the north woods.

    Tragically, they’re both Trump supporters.


  14. 14
    germy says:

    Mushrooms are inscrutable and will outlive us all:

    A mushroom of this type in the Malheur National Forest in the Strawberry Mountains of eastern Oregon, U.S. was found to be the largest fungal colony in the world, spanning 8.9 square kilometres (2,200 acres) of area. This organism is estimated to be 2,400 years old.

  15. 15
    Elizabelle says:

    Did native Americans eat mushrooms? Did they dry them?

    I love mushrooms with scrambled eggs, or pasta. And chicken.

  16. 16
    muddy says:

    We get good sized puffballs like that. I like to cut a thin slice, dip it in egg and fry it. It’s like a mushroom omelet that is mostly mushroom.

  17. 17
    Mary Jo says:

    Mushroom-tarragon soup. Delish.

  18. 18
    WaterGirl says:

    @germy: Sad that you are heartbroken, but happy that you shared it with us. Wiri Wiri peppers are now on my list to plant next year. Have you tried Krimzon Lee peppers? They aren’t super hot, but they have some heat and they have a wonderful flavor. All my friends LOVE them and want to take some home whenever they are over, and some are even growing their own now because they love them so much.

  19. 19
    WaterGirl says:

    I am deathly allergic to mushrooms, so I cannot understand the mushroom love.

  20. 20
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @germy: RIP wiri wiri. But I guess you have something to look forward to next year!

    PS – what WaterGirl said. I’m going to keep an eye out for those at the Farmers Market this weekend.

  21. 21
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Elizabelle: I’m sure they did. Also medicinally. Also shamanistically. Also, as firestarters.

    Non US examples, but I’m sure we could find US ones too.

  22. 22
    germy says:

    @WaterGirl: We’d love to plant those. It seems pepper plants are so fussy… either they die or flourish. Too much rain? No good. Not enough sun? Sorry. It’s certainly a challenge getting them to grow. The one good thing is that the squirrels and rabbits leave them alone.

  23. 23
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @WaterGirl: :-( sorry about that.

    My foster kids (refugees from Sudan) were deeply suspicious of all mushrooms. Basically you don’t live through an experience like they did without being highly selective about what you eat.

    Oh, and btw their word for mushroom translated to “hyena penis.” (At least they told me this – they could have been yanking my chain.)

  24. 24
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Mary Jo: I will recommend tarragon to JT (my partner and the household cook)!

  25. 25
    manyakitty says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Any handy guides you recommend for those myco-curious of us? I see mushrooms everywhere, but I’m afraid to just pick and eat them.

  26. 26
    germy says:

    I have read so much about the use of “magic mushrooms” by people in the last stage of their lives. That it helps with anxiety. I have never eaten those sort of mushrooms. I wouldn’t even know how to obtain them.

    I hope when the time comes, if I am in a hospice somewhere, it will be legal.

  27. 27
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @daryljfontaine: I REALLY want to find some lobsters.

    Oy, sorry about the fact that they are Trumpsters.

  28. 28
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @germy: It’s a honey mushroom, and I believe it’s the largest ORGANISM in the world, not just mushroom.

    Malheur – too bad we couldn’t have sicked it on the bird sanctuary occupiers.

  29. 29
    Hillary Rettig says:

    I’m going to have to sign off of the thread now, but will check in later. Great to swap shroom stories with all of you!

  30. 30
    Gindy51 says:

    @manyakitty: Me too. I am sure there re many in our woods that we could eat but the thought of making a BIG mistake prevents us from bothering. We let the wildlife eat them.

  31. 31
    germy says:

    @Hillary Rettig:

    Politics has been obsessing a lot of people lately, and Ursula K. Le Guin is far from immune to bouts of political anger. In an e-mail to me last winter, she wrote that she felt “eaten up” with frustration at the ongoing occupation of an eastern Oregon wildlife refuge by an armed band of antigovernment agitators led by the brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy. She was distressed by the damage they had done to scientific programs and to historical artifacts belonging to the local Paiute tribe, and critical of the F.B.I. for being so slow to remove these “hairy gunslinging fake cowboys” from public property. She had been mildly cheered up, she added, by following a Twitter feed with the hashtag #BundyEroticFanFic.

    She’s well into her eighties; still writing, still enjoying a nightly glass of bourbon with her husband, and pissed as hell about all the rightwing monkeybusiness.

  32. 32
    Aleta says:

    @geg6: A friend found one (on a swampy oak tree spot of golf course). He fried some up for us in a cast iron skillet, a little butter, with maybe an equal amount or less of eggs scrambled around the pieces so they stuck to the slices.. Amazing, even a small portion was filling. He was keeping it refrigerated under a slightly damp paper towel, and cooking it that way several times a week, going on for months. He believed eating it frequently would stimulate his immune cells. My German forest-foraging friends say to straight out freeze it in slices, then cook with.

  33. 33
    geg6 says:

    @Hillary Rettig:

    Don’t have a dehydrator, but I’ll find a use. I can make tons of pasta sauce because we have all our tomatoes we canned in August. And I’ll probably do some stir-fry this weekend, so that will use some up. And perhaps a Stroganoff, too.

    The pizza, by the way, was delicious. Plus, I still have some pizza sauce, cheese and a crust left from that, so another pizza is in the offing.

  34. 34
    hovercraft says:

    We still have three Ghost peppers on the plant, my Mom didn’t tell me they were ghost peepers, so I too learned the hard way.

  35. 35
    WaterGirl says:

    @germy: I think it’s tomato plants that are fussy! Much more so than peppers for me.

    My little Henry (11 pound fluff ball) is a thief. He’s crazy for blueberries and wiggles under the cages I use to keep the bunnies out. He is mad for tomatoes, regardless of size. I joke that he and Tucker are going out to harvest the tomatoes. I only get the ones that are too high for them to reach. He stole every raspberry off my bush – I gave it away after that first year. I have to grow my strawberries in pots so I actually get to eat them.

    I grew a ghost pepper plant one year for my friend who loves everything HOT. I came out on the deck one day and found two ghost peppers just lying there. Finally, something Henry doesn’t want! Apparently he thought the first one might have been an aberration and had to try a second one before he decided that one of these things was not like the others.

  36. 36
    germy says:

    @hovercraft: @WaterGirl: We had trouble with rabbits and squirrels and god knows what else stealing our tomatoes, until my wife recycled the mesh netting that stores sell potatoes in. She covered the tomatoes with the netting. The critters can’t steal our crop anymore.

  37. 37
    WaterGirl says:

    @germy: Yeah, but then my pups would just be hoodlums, with nothing to keep them out of trouble in the summer. :-)

    Though I guess I could plant one tomato plant just for them and cover the other ones for me!

  38. 38
    manyakitty says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Can you just dehydrate them in a paper bag like herbs?

  39. 39
    Virginia (fka Abo Gato) says:

    Wiri wiri peppers (had to look them up) look a lot like chili piquin peppers here in South Texas. Those will grow wild many places. I love them and gather the red ones, put them in a bottle with vinegar, and voila! Hot pepper sauce at hand that only gets better as it ages.

  40. 40
    Ol'Froth says:

    I never cared for puffballs. Maitake, on the other hand>>>>Have a bunch dehydrated already, and they’re still popping in SW PA

  41. 41
    laura says:

    @germy: I haven’t had magic mushrooms for years, but can say without hesitation or reservation that I felt a connection to the life force that lasted much longer than the hallucinogenic experience.
    Also, a deep cosmic devine sense of laughter.
    Your smilage may very.

    I’m excited about it’s use in an end of life setting as well as a vehicle for treating ptsd and other trauma.

  42. 42
    dmsilev says:

    Category V Trump Tweetstorm incoming:

    “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part because they’re so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved,” Obama said.
    “There’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time,” he continued. “And so, I ‘d advise Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

  43. 43
    geg6 says:


    …they’re still popping in SW PA

    Yup, that’s my location and where my friend’s husband got these giant ones late last week. Just beautiful.

  44. 44
    sukabi says:

    @Kropadope: at 74 whatever is eating drumpfs brain will have consumed the rest of him. There won’t be anything left to run.

  45. 45
    germy says:

    @laura: And I haven’t the slightest idea where to obtain them. I wish I could visit my local pharmacist, but this is unpossible.

  46. 46
    MissBarbie says:

    @geg6: They dry very well, after separating them into individual fronds.

  47. 47
    Paul in KY says:

    @laura: I certainly like magic mushrooms much better than LSD. Doesn’t last near as long. With LSD, you’re in for a 6 hour or more experience, whether you want it to last that long or not.

  48. 48
    Ruviana says:

    @Hillary Rettig: So too did Sue Grafton in her Kinsey Milhone series–I Is For Innocent.

  49. 49
    Steve Finlay says:

    We once found a beautiful puffball in the woods at my parents’ farm in Ontario. We sliced it and pan-fried it on butter. My brother came in and we offered him a piece, neglecting to tell him what it was.

    He took a bite. “Ugh! That’s the WORST pancake I’ve ever had!”

    We explained. “But it’s not a pancake – it’s a puffball. One of the big mushrooms from under the pine trees.”

    He stared at the slice on his plate and lectured himself firmly. “OK. This is a MUSHROOM. It’s a MUSHROOM.” Then a second bite.

    “Hey, once you know it’s a mushroom, this is pretty good!”

    The Dorothy Sayers novel – I think it’s title is The Documents In The Case, or something close to that. The perp was caught because he neglected to ensure that his synthetic poison had the same chirality as its naturally occurring form.

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    Are all puffballs non-poisonous? And do you have to slice a big one, like the one you have, very carefully so it doesn’t, you know, puff?

  51. 51
    JR in WV says:

    Mushrooms are very collectible here in WV, we have biologists next door who cruise the woods for chanterelles, chicken of the woods, etc. Of course the king and queen of ‘shrooms is the Morel, which can be prolific here if conditions hit.

    There are many abandoned orchards, which make for good Morel patches, and elm trees which also work for Morels.

    Some years ago, at a spring party on a friend’s farm near Athens Ohio, a very small girl (5, maybe?) found the “world’s largest” morel, it was 18 inches tall, almost more than she could handle. Of course there’s no world’s largest for ‘shrooms, but it was stunning huge! Pictures exist, but I don’t have one – sorry!

    Your pics are great. I’ve never had puffball to eat, hope to eat one someday.

  52. 52
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @manyakitty: there are so many! try to get one specific to your region. I have several and they complement each other because no one description is sufficient.

    also, join the MushroomID group on Facebook – it’s got 40K+ members including some professional mycologists. you’ll learn a lot and can upload your own pix for ID.

    finally, find a local mushroom group (google or meetup) and join that. the books are okay but not substitute for learning from more experienced mushroomers.

    hope this helps!

  53. 53
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @germy: I think I posted on this earlier. Johns Hopkins and others are doing a lot of trails with psilocybin mushrooms for depression, addiction, and end-of-life. Apparently it’s amazing, and, like you, I hope to heck it gets legalized soon.

  54. 54
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @germy: I studied with her. :-) For one week at the Clarion sf writing workshop.

  55. 55
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @manyakitty: I would google that. I have heard of people stringing them up near their furnace, but don’t know about the paper bag.

  56. 56
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Steve Finlay: Super impressed, right now, with both the novel and the commentariat!

  57. 57
    laura says:

    @germy: under a cow flop is the usual location -or where the hippies gather.
    It’s important to have a guide, if possible as well as site/setting controls. We’d put the car keys and records we did not want to hear on top of the fridge, plan a nature excursion/and indoor lounging about and good music. Astral weeks was/is a personal favorite.
    And yes, the shorter duration vs. LSD. It’s like tantric sex – who’s got that kind of time anyway.

  58. 58
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Citizen_X: >Are all puffballs non-poisonous? And do you have to slice a big one, like the one you have, very carefully so it doesn’t, you know, puff?

    so be very careful here. some are poisonous–they often have dark insides. an edible puffball is always a pristine white inside. the giants like I have are edible, so unless we cut it open and find it wormy (unlikely as the outside is pretty pristine) it’s good to go. but never eat the ones with dark insides.

    even worse, poisonous Amanitas (e.g., “The Deathcap”) go through a stage called the egg where they look like puffballs. But when you slice them open you should see the form of the immature mushroom. eating one of those is a potentially deadline mistake.

    here’s a good link: http://www.eattheweeds.com/lyc.....ffballs-2/

    but read widely and absolutely do not eat anything unless you’re 100% sure it’s okay. Also, take a small initial bite of any wild mushroom (even the benign ones) to make sure you don’t have an allergic or other reaction to it. And never eat wild mushrooms uncooked.

    (As I mentioned previously, the best way to learn is to join a local mushroom group.)

  59. 59
  60. 60
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @JR in WV: I have only found two runty morels in two years of regular looking. They’re hard to spot plus they’ve been overharvested. Plus, some people have been hunting them since they were kids so they get everything. I would love to see a big morel like you describe, and I remain optimistic that I’ll do better in the spring.

  61. 61
    Manyakitty says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Yes, thank you!

  62. 62
    workworkwork says:

    @WaterGirl: I’m not allergic but I also don’t quite get the mushroom thing.
    Don’t get me wrong, I want to like them, if only to broaden my palette, but I’m having trouble getting past the whole ‘fungus’ thing.’

    Any recipes or suggestions for the mushroom-curious? Bear in mind I’m not going to go tramping through the woods but would be willing to go to an upscale grocery if necessary.

  63. 63
    Peter says:

    Great finds. I found a couple of huge puffballs in Nashville this time two years ago. Because their texture reminded me of wonder bread, I sliced them and made grilled cheese using pimento cheese between two slices. Didn’t suck. Even though I live in a very oaky piece of New York, I have yet to find a maitake. Enjoy.

  64. 64
    Hans Moleman says:

    Good lord. I just got some lovely hen of the woods at the supermarket… 7 pounds would have cost me, uh, $245.

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