Monday, October 18, 2010

Black Trumpets (finally!)

Craterellus something--fallax, cornucopioides, I don't know which, there's some taxonomy games going on about these. And I don't have a microscope.
I've been dying to find some of these, after reading about how hard they are to find, how intense the flavor becomes when they're dried, how great it tastes to flavor wine with them by dropping a few in the bottle and leaving it overnight, how crazily expensive they are, etc. So much intrigue! I did find a tiny handful of them in the spring, but then it all looked pretty discouraging. But then me an' Rob were hiking around recently, and we wanted to go up there to check out that big dead tree, and suddenly they were everywhere. I froze, and yelled "TRUMPETS! Black Trumpets! Oh my gawd, they're everywhere!"

There's at least 20 in the image above. They're about 2" tall.

These are nice and dark because they're nice and wet because it had rained nice and hard the day before, but I'm telling you, these things shift between dimensions or something. You don't see them, and then suddenly you see them. And if they're not conveniently darkened from recent rain, they are EXACTLY the color of a dead leaf:

Here's me, for some perspective:

Anyway, we happily picked them for about an hour, I was thrilled, we got 3-4lbs of them, and oooh, when you've got a whole bunch of them together in a bag, the smell is intoxicating, if you like the smell of sweet, gamy, mushroomy earthy things.

Then a fellow mushroom freak reported finding some over where he hunts, and he picked 9 lbs one day, 7 lbs another day, 11 lbs another day...he said he thought there might be "hundreds of thousands" of them. Incredible.

Then I read some stuff about them, and learned (as much as you can call it "learning" from reading a single blurb on a commercial website) that 12 lbs fresh make one lb dry, which explains something about why they're so pricey. They are very thin-fleshed, it's not like you can really get a good chewy mouthful of them, they're more about flavor (which gets stronger when you dry them). I threw what I thought was kind of a lot (of fresh ones) into a pan (w/ butter of course), and they went "Shp!" and shrunk down to nothing in 2 seconds. Smelled wonderful, though, and what there was of them tasted wonderful. REALLY smelled wonderful.

Then there was no more rain and the whole world dried up. 

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