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Peak Pick: Mushrooms

By James Parker, December 22, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by James Parker
mushrooms10I had a bit of a panic moment earlier this month. Our annual office holiday meal was right around the corner and I was having no luck locating good foraged mushrooms (Chanterelles) for the dish I traditionally contribute. Fortunately I had a trip scheduled to Austin the day before the event and the Whole Foods Market store there had about 25 pounds of perfect chanterelles. I also discovered in the process that carrying four pounds of fresh mushrooms through airport security raises some eyebrows but is generally allowed. mushrooms2 Foraged mushrooms are like that - it's almost impossible to predict how much of what will be available from week to week because supply is driven largely by the weather and the ability of the foragers to get out and harvest. The winter and spring rainy seasons are when we are far more likely to see them, so chances are good that you can plan for foraged mushrooms to be available during Christmas and into the spring. Available varieties will change but here is a rundown of what is commonly available: mushrooms3Chanterelle: The most common foraged and perhaps the most versatile, the common Chanterelle can be pale white to a brilliant orange-yellow and is a delicate, mild-flavored, trumpet shaped mushroom. Their size can vary from as small as a quarter to as large as desert plate and they can be roasted (my favorite), sautéed and baked. A popular way to prepare them is with scrambled eggs or omelets since the mild flavor blends well with eggs. Another less common but similar mushroom is the Black Chanterelle (or trumpet) - this is a smaller, earthier-flavored version of the larger cousin. Chanterelles can be available year round, but we see an availability peak in the U.S. from late November through January, weather permitting. mushrooms4Morel: In the early spring, the morel emerges and for a few precious weeks, we see sporadic availability of this exceptional foraged mushroom. Morels are varying hues of brown with a white stem and are shaped like a Christmas tree with a woody, robust flavor. I like Morels as a simple sauté with just about anything. Dried Morels are also commonly used in sauces. Available dried year round and fresh generally in March and April. Another noteworthy aspect of the Morel: the more active the forest fire season the year before, the larger the morel harvest. mushrooms5Porcini: The king of the wild mushroom, porcinis have a strong distinctive flavor and the iconic shape we generally associate with mushrooms (a thick stem with a large umbrella shaped cap). The porcini also has an inedible veil (the stringy underside of the cap) that must be removed prior to cooking. Porcinis can be prepared in many ways and are a common ingredient in spaghetti sauces. mushrooms6 If you want a more reliable source of mushrooms, there are several varieties of cultivated versions you will see year round. In addition to the common Agaricus white and brown variety (which includes the larger mature version, Portobello), you will almost always find the uniquely flavored Shiitake and several cultivated Oyster varieties. Because of the delicate nature of mushrooms, most are grown in the same region they are sold. The medium used for producing mushrooms commercially (compost or ground wood products) will also see a second life as compost for row crop farming and gardens. mushrooms7 I often combine cultivated and foraged when I cook with mushrooms, since foraged are often very expensive. Using both helps me stretch a side dish afforably if I am serving several people. Roasting with fresh herbs and butter is my favorite method but I would love to have some new recipes, so please share. Many thanks to Bryan Doane, Kevin Doty, and John Walker for contributing to this post.
Category: Food & Recipes

 

14 Comments

Comments

Natasha says ...
The question is: what is dish that you were planning to use the chantarelles for :-)?
12/22/2009 2:39:02 PM CST
parkerj says ...
From a Nov post on pot luck side dishes: ½ pound Chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in half 1 pound brown Crimini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced 1 large shallot or cippolini onion, finely chopped 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 4 tablespoons olive oil, equally divided 2 teaspoons of butter Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 450°F (broiler mode). Place chanterelle mushrooms in a mixing bowl. Melt butter and combine with half the olive oil, the shallots, thyme and half the parsley. Toss mixture with chanterelles, place in a broiling pan, and add salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the mushrooms just start to brown. At the same time heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet, add the sliced Crimini mushrooms and remaining parsley. Sauté until tender. Combine with roasted chanterelles (make sure you keep the pan juices on both). Serves 6-8.
12/28/2009 9:29:06 AM CST
E. Davis says ...
Hello - I have a question please...I saw chanterelles (looking a bit dry of course) at a whole foods in Atlanta, GA yesterday and the employee told me they were from Oregon...are these "winter chanterelles" I have heard about which I believe are not true chanterelles....I would appreciate any information you can give me. Thank you.
12/22/2012 11:42:40 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@E. DAVIS - I was able to get in touch with the author of this blog post, James, for clarification. He believes you are referring to what we call a “Yellowfoot” mushroom. This is a similar but smaller trumpet type mushroom that is in fact not a true chanterelle. You can tell the difference by the stem- the true chanterelle stem is solid while the Yellowfoot is hollow (like a trumpet). There is another variety that is similar called a Hedgehog that has a solid stem but has feathered gills (like the hair of a hedgehog) that is also available in the winter/spring. All varieties are foraged in Oregon this time of year so without actually seeing what was offered in Atlanta he can’t be certain. We do take great care to work with shippers that correctly identify variety though and we are in our peak availability period for chanterelles so my sense is they were looking at a true (if perhaps a little road weary) chanterelle. Hope this helps!
12/28/2012 9:47:49 AM CST
Jeffrey Coleman says ...
You're brave collecting mushrooms and eating them! I guess if you are with other people who know what they are looking for it might make it better. <a href="http://www.cubensis-spore-syringe.com/spore-syringe.html">spore syringe</a>
01/21/2013 2:41:03 AM CST
Shaun Junso says ...
Hello, I am in Jacksonville, Florida and curious to find out when the peak of the season is to buy morel mushrooms in a Whole Foods store?
02/03/2013 5:38:26 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SHAUN - The best time for morels are going to be in the early Spring. Definitely check with the Jacksonville store at 904.288.1100 and a Produce team member might have more info as to when they will be expecting them!
02/06/2013 1:48:54 PM CST
Jonda Bauch says ...
We live in Columbus Ohio and am wondering if our Whole Foods here has morel mushrooms for sale in their store
05/21/2014 12:13:36 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JONDA - Since availability differs between stores, I would suggest calling the Columbus store directly before you head that way at 614.760.5556. They will be happy to let you know what they currently have in stock!
05/21/2014 11:27:31 AM CDT
isaac perlman says ...
To whom it may concern, I live in south florida and out stores look nothing like this in terms of product variation when speaking of mushrooms. Can you please try to get more variation in the stores around south florida (aventura, north miami, south beach, coral gables, etc.) Thanks, Isaac
07/24/2014 9:55:24 AM CDT
jeff fisher says ...
I have several pounds of fresh Hen of the woods (grifola frondosa) aka Maitake mushrooms. Does Whole foods buy fresh mushrooms? Im willing to sell for cheap. Found the motherload!
10/04/2014 8:41:11 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JEFF - You would need to be set up as a vendor first. Check with your local store to see what steps are needed to become a vendor.
10/06/2014 11:31:24 AM CDT
Angela says ...
Where can I buy FRESH porcini mushrooms in South Florida? I always find the dry but not the fresh.
10/24/2014 12:07:11 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@ANGELA - Our exact product options differ between stores. You can check with the closest store to you in Florida to see what they have in stock. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
10/24/2014 5:14:00 PM CDT