Monday, December 27, 2010

One last Lion’s Mane mushroom, a big one

A last hurrah of the season, found in mid-November (I say “last hurrah” because all rain stopped in mid-September…the woods here dried up into a crunchy, dead-leaf desert).

Here was my first glimpse of it, me standing right on the trail—I thought, “What is that, a rock?” It was near a bluff, with lots of chunks of chert around. Could have been a rock. But as I got closer, the color became more alive and somehow translucent.

Lion's Mane mushroom
Nov. 13, 2010

I say “right on the trail” in italics, for emphasis, because lots of people hike in this park, and I can’t believe my luck about what I find when I’m just poking along on the trail, not even crashing through the underbrush. People either don’t see stuff, or are disinterested, or say, “Ew, gross”, or I don’t know what. I’m just saying that one does not have to go deep into dark forests to find mushrooms. Because mushrooms are everywhere.

This was the biggest one I’d found this year, growing in a kind of funny low spot so its bottom edges were actually smooshed against the ground (usually they’re higher up a tree. Often maddeningly out of reach).

Bearded Tooth mushroom on tree base      Bearded Tooth on tree base

Below, I’ve thrust my pocket knife into it triumphantly. Regular readers may remember that my open pocket knife is 5-3/8” long, since I use it so often to indicate scale, and constantly mention its size.

Lion's Mane with knife for scale

Something a little gruesome about that shot (above)

Hericium erinaceus

Nothing gruesome about THIS one, though, in my opinion. But, I know what these TASTE like, so to me it is beautiful.

Hericium erinaceus cut surface

Above, the base, showing the cool moist spongy interior, after I'd cut it off the tree. You can see the knife marks where I sawed away at it. Oh, and to add to the fun, it squeaks when you cut it.

I’d say it was a bit bigger than an average human brain.

I cut it off the tree and it was perfect and I gave half of it to a pal and that still left enough for me to lightly gorge myself on—a big serving, the kind where you know if you eat more, you’ll feel a little stuffed, in a lovely, indulgent sort of way. Man, just looking at that image makes my mouth water, I can smell it, in my mind! Like the freshest chilled scallops and lobster you can imagine.

Helpful hint: whenever I collect these I put them in their own plastic bag (even if I've already got other edibles collected), to keep them as clean as possible, minimizing junk getting caught in the soft hairy spines. The less I have to cut off and discard, the better, because every possible edible morsel of these is worth it.