Missed that one

The only thing that we forgot to do yesterday was harvest the basil. Bad idea.

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Last night we had our first frost of the year, -4°C. Oops.

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Into the piney woods

I  can finally  tick off one of the ‘must do’s’ that has been on my list for years, foraging for mushrooms.  We were in Myrtleford for La Fiera, an annual festival celebrating the Italian migrant heritage of this region. One of the big draws of the weekend was a mushroom forage with local long time foragers Franca, her husband Don, and her parents Maria and Angelo.
Having collected their motley group of mushroom fanciers we headed off in convoy to a nearby pine forest. And then we put on our hard hats and high-vis vests and got to work (yep this is a working forestry plantation we were picking on).

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Getting ready to enter the pine forrest

After an introduction about the mushrooms we could expect to find, what to look out for and reminders to check with the leaders before picking anything, we set off. It didn’t take long before we found some mushrooms.

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Found ’em!

Our first finds were Slippery Jack mushrooms, so-called because of their slimy caps. Franca told us to peel the slimy top off before cooking them. The slimy bit can apparently cause some gastric upset.

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Slippery Jack mushrooms hiding in the pine needles

What were all really keen to find were the Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, which have a firmer texture. It was even more difficult to spot their orange mottled surface on the forest floor, particularly as they were often completely covered by pine needles. I was helped in finding them when I spotted a group of Saffron Milk Caps that had been dug around by animals, who clearly were interested in seeing what was there, but didn’t eat them. Once I found some I checked more closely in the surrounding area and found more still under the pine needles.

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A Saffron Milk Cap mushroom

About this time I got a serious case of tool envy. Franca showed us her beautiful Orpinel mushroom knife,  with it’s curved blade that folds into the wooden handle and a built in brush on one end of the handle. The rest of us had kitchen knives and an old toothbrush to clean the bits of dirt from the mushrooms.

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Our collection, the mushrooms with yellow undersides are the Slippery Jacks and those with orange undersides are Saffron milk Caps

Between our friends and ourselves we had quite a haul! At the end of the hunt we were treated to a lovely brunch of fried mushrooms on sourdough bread (cooked in Franca’s wood-fired oven), double yum.

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Maria cooks up a forest feast

In the end we had plenty of mushrooms for dinner that night and beyond. But that’s for the next post.