I’ve been hoping this species would one day arrive in the garden and a week ago I noticed a small group of St George’s Mushroom (Vårfagerhatt) or Calocybe gambosa emerging right next to where I sit in the garden next to a birch tree and on the edge of what was once a “lawn”. This spring fruiting species has its English name as it usually appears around St. George’s Day, 23rd April, a month later up here in the north!
One of the hardiest fungi appears often midwinter in mild winters. It is the velvet shank (vintersopp in Norwegian, meaning winter fungus; Flammulina velutipes). The recent mild weather has brought on a flush of this edible species with many reports on Norwegian fungi groups, and I too found a small group in my garden the other day. It’s difficult to believe that this is the same fungi as Enokitake or Enoki, sometimes offered in supermarkets and one of the most popular cultivated fungi in the Far East (see the last picture below). The cultivated fungi are long and white as they are grown in the dark in an enriched CO2 environment which gives longer stalks .
After finding large quantities of winter chantarelles (traktkantarell) the day before within a few hundred metres of our start point, it was very surprising to find only a handful during a 3 hour walk in the Gevingåsen area….the mysteries of the forest! I shouln’t have mentioned yesterday that it was almost guaranteed to find this fungi in suitable habitat in October :(
Nevertheless, there was also an unseasonally large diversity of fungi to be found and here is a selection. Please feel free to add names if you recognise any!
The most reliable edible fungi here is winter chantarelle (traktkantarell). Only once in my over 30 years of picking this has it failed. The second part of October is the best time and I can always find large quantities in short time in damp mossy spruce woodlands which there is much of near me. Fortunate then that it’s one of the tastiest and it dries quickly for long term storage.This year is no exception and an oven load is now drying (too warm to have the wood burning stove on for drying).
One of, my favourite culinary times of year…the last two evenings I’ve eaten fresh broad bean falafels accompanied by fresh orange milkcaps / granmatriske (Lactarius deterrimus) and a mixed salad including sour tasting tuberous begonia flowers, various heirloom tomatoes and much more. It doesn’t get much better!
More work :(
There were again large numbers of perfect Lactarius deterrimus (granmatriske / false saffron milkcap or orange milkcap), which is a mycorrhizal fungus that associates with Norway spruce (gran). I think this is the tastiest of all fungi along with its brother Lactarius deliciosus!! I was surprised to learn on its English wiki page that its taste is often bitter, and it is not highly valued (see its taste is often bitter, and it is not highly valued). Really?
Also picked more porcini (steinsopp/cep) and a little Albatrellus ovinus (fåresopp)
I can’t remember the last time we had a porcini (cep, penny bun) or steinsopp in Norwegian year here, well over 10 years I think!! There are huge amounts for the pickings…and they were all in good condition with almost no insect larvae nor the parasitic fungi (snyltesopp) which makes them inedible.
There were also large amounts of saffron milk caps (matriske) again unusually for the time of year completely free of insect larvae!
Perhaps the warm dry weather was good for the fungi but not the flies!
I had to stop as I was afraid the load would be too much for the bike brakes on the very steep descent home!
Strangely, the most common edible fungi (chantarelle and hedgehog fungus/ kantarell og piggsopp) were almost totally absent!
Now, the job to dry them and return to the woods a couple more times to dry enough for the next porcini year!
Eikeskrubb (Leccinum quercinum / Orange oak bolete) which also grows on aspen :
A productive afternoon in the woods yesterday on the Malvik side of Solemsvåttan with my Swiss helper Julia Albrecht with a good haul of bilberries and the year’s first chantarelles! Yes, I think I live in paradise :)