Bringing in the New (Gregorian) Year


Chanterelle mushroom
Chanterelle mushrooms can be so graceful!

I know a lot of folks are out celebrating the turning of the Gregorian year through dancing their booties off at shows and the like, but I’m a bit of a different kind of bird.

Today was the first not-stormy day in what seems like weeks. There were sun breaks, blue sky, and at times, fantastic lighting, so instead of dutifully working on the farm or heading into town, I took off into the woods for some foraging. It had been at least a week or two since I’d been out, and I hadn’t had a basket of chanterelles since before the freeze.

If you live in Oregon, you know we’re in between a couple of “atmospheric rivers” – literally getting dumped on. That kind of rain isn’t great for mushrooms – they get water-logged and lose their texture and form. In this stage they are neither particularly edible nor appealing (looking nothing like the photo above, which was taken during a drier part of the year). So I wasn’t particularly hopeful. Still, who could resist an almost sunny day after days and days of wet weather?

Chanterelle mushrooms
It’s always such a delight to come around a tree and see this sight. This photo was taken in the coastal range. You can find patches like this near Alsea Falls but not in the areas I go to when I’m just wanting to do a 2 or 3 hour trip, not an all-day adventure.

The site closest to me in Alsea Falls can sometimes provide bounty (like what you see above), but as a friend I took out recently can attest, lately not so much. There also tends to be a fair amount of competition at the closer sites. Still, I’m rarely entirely disappointed – I usually get enough for a few dinners at the very least. Today was no exception.

Of course, my yields looked more like the mushroom below, but with much less form (mushier) and two out of three chanterelles were too far gone to keep, but some chanterelles are better than no chanterelles in my book and with the proper dry sauteing before frying, they tasted just fine.

(Incidentally, there were a few oyster mushrooms out there, but being a lot less robust than chanterelles the rain had simply shredded them.)

Chanterelle mushroom
Not all chanterelles grow into graceful trumpet-forms.

What did you do New Year’s eve?

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