Mushroom Foraging, Medicinal & Culinary Uses



Well, hello, my name is Rayne Grant. I am with the Four Corners Mycological Society and the Colorado Mushroom Company. I’m here in Durango, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains. And I just want to say that mushroom season is incredible here. If you get out into the mountains during the summer season, you’re going to see so many different types of mushrooms. And yes, don’t be afraid to touch them, because even the poisonous ones aren’t going to kill you if you touch them. Just to let you know. Don’t be afraid. There is a lot of fungo-phobia especially in the United States. And so, here in the Rocky Mountains if you get out there in the springtime, you can if you’re lucky, find the blonde morels, the Morchella. And they are really delicious. They grow usually in May to June depending on the temperatures and how much moisture we’re getting that year. So, if you get out into the mountains this summer, above 10,000 feet, look under the spruce trees. You’ll find these big, fat mushrooms known as porcini. They are a delicious edible. We have a specific species called Boletus rubriceps and it is quite delicious. It’s also referred to as the King Bolete. It is a prized edible found in many places in Europe, the Pacific Northwest, and our Rocky Mountains. When we have a forest fire, the first thing you find in the soil. If you look in the soil, you see all this bacteria and fungal action. What do you find? The morel mushrooms. So, morel mushrooms are not only a delicious edible but they help to remediate our soils and bring back the life in the areas that have had these devastating fires. And we have a very small window of time where we can actually forage for these mushrooms because they like very specific temperatures and moisture levels. We have the chanterelles. Everyone loves chanterelles. And if you haven’t tried a chanterelle, you need to try a chanterelle. We have a specific variety called Cantharellus roseocanus. Another mushroom variety you might find growing in your backyard or down by the river would be a Pleurotus variety. You can also find them up high. So, these are oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are something that you can sometimes buy at the Farmer’s Market or at your local market. But you can find them growing wild and it’s very exciting. They grow on aspen and cottonwood. And if you’re not sure what you found, take a picture and upload it to the Four Corners Mycological Society and we will help you to identify it. I want to show you a really cool mushroom. This is kind of fragile. But this is a parasol mushroom. And you can tell that it’s edible by smelling it. This one smells very meaty. And it will have a brown spore print. So when you’re trying to identify a mushroom, you’re really going to look at where is it growing and you want to take a spore print. This one has a brown spore print, but there is a variety that is poisonous and has a green spore print. So, it’s good to know your mushrooms. Another one you might find growing in your backyard is a puffball. These things are really hard to misidentify because nothing looks like them. They can get big. And some of them are really tiny. So, not only are these food, but they are full of nutrients, lots of vitamins, minerals. In Colorado, we have a ganoderma variety that grows here. So, ganoderma is what a reishi mushroom is. Ganoderma lucidum. So, here in the Rocky Mountains we have Ganoderma applanatum which is also referred to as the artist’s conk. And it’s called the artist’s conk because it bruises on the bottom. You can actually draw a picture on it. It’s really important to know your mushrooms. Do not ever consume a mushroom that you are not 100% positive of the identification of. I highly suggest that if you are going to get up into the mountains as a first time forager or just viewing things to join a local group like the Four Corners Mycological Society.

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