This morning, the Partners were really working me, trying to convince me that I ought to be taking them somewhere in the car for an adventure. It didn’t take a lot of convincing. I tossed a basket in the car, loaded the dogs and off we went to the Enchanted Mushroom Forest.
Some readers will have realized I apply the name Enchanted Mushroom Forest to all the forests I forage in. This particular woods is usually reliable for some lobster mushrooms and some hedgehogs, with the odd chanterelle and maybe a few boletes thrown in. It’s one of those places that never gives a huge bounty but rarely leaves an intrepid forager skunked.
Today, I found hedgehogs right away. There are two varieties of hedgehog mushrooms and both grow in this forest. One is Hydnum repandum and the other is Hydnum umbilicatum. They look a little different from one another. The latter has a dimple, or a belly button, on the top of the cap, hence the name umbilicatum. In my area these tend to be more orangy-tan than the Hydum repandum, which I would describe as tan. Both have teeth instead of gills or pores, making them easy to identify. Both are also delicious. They taste similar to chanterelles and like chanterelles, they are a firm mushroom which fry up very well.
Today I found about 15 hedgehogs in short order. They looked a little old to me, but still on this side of their expiry date, so I picked them and tossed them in my basket. I was very surprised I failed to find any lobster mushrooms at all, not even spent ones. That was a bit of a disappointment as I can usually count on finding enough for a couple dinners at least.
When we got home, the first thing I did was brush the stickers and burrs out of the dogs’ fur. They have a blast in the forest, but always come home with unwanted stuff in their coats. The Partners then settled in for an afternoon nap, while I cleaned up my mushrooms.
Generally, I find nice clean hedgehogs at this spot, but sadly all the mushrooms I picked this morning were badly infested with bugs and worms. It was not a very appetizing situation, and reluctantly my finds for the day went to the compost. Of course The Partners didn’t care about that. They understand the adventure is the thing, not the bounty.