Autumn is mushroom season. The valley I live in gets lots of rain and is surrounded with beautiful forests. This is the valley of fungi. For the Shoestring Herbalist, this means it’s time to get busy. It may seem driving out to the woods to spend hours rooting around on your hands and knees for a few baskets of fungus is a big waste of time to the average Joe. The penny wise herbalist knows better.
Button mushrooms in the grocery store are available for cheap. The taste is bland. The texture is rubbery. Why bother?
The mushrooms growing in the wild are colorful, delicious and healthy. Mushrooms have an abundance of selenium and vitamin D. They add interest to every meal. The bottom line is the mushrooms I am searching for are expensive to buy. Fresh chanterelles go for around $10/pound in my area. Dried chanterelles are pricier – $60/pound. They can be sold for much higher in areas of the country that don’t grow them.
Mushroom hunters are a rare breed. You have to confidently KNOW your mushroom. Mushroom poisoning is not a joke. One bad mushroom can kill or sicken an intrepid explorer in a short amount of time. (See our review section of this site for suggested mushroom hunting guides.) This makes the basket of expertly collected earthly delights even more valuable.
Wild mushrooms preserve beautifully. A small bottle of chanterelle infused olive oil makes a fabulous gift for the foodies in your life. Tie a bow on a baggy of dried shrimp mushrooms to give to a gourmet cook and you have a friend for life. Put a jar of canned hedgehog mushrooms in the right hands and you have a very happy camper on your hands.
I know. Before I started mushroom picking, the person who was giddy at the sight of a wildcrafted mushroom was me. These wild treasures delighted and enchanted me. I could not believe my luck in receiving such a great gift. Now, I am the person with the coveted gifts. I have a basket of goodies to delight my friends…all on a shoestring budget.