Photo from Michael Wood's site www.mykoweb.com unitl I can take one this nice.
When hunting morels in the spring, we often find a very delectable Agaricus that fruits at the start of the morel season. The variation of Agaricus albolutescens that grows in these parts has a relatively short stalk with a cap that just barely clears the duff when it matures. Fortunately, the bright white cap with amber-yellow stains is distinctive against the dark ground. This delectable mushroom is worth learning because many people do not pick it for fear of confusing it with the spring Amanita, Amanita aprica, which also has a yellow cap, but with white veil patches attached to a yellow background. True, they both have free gills, but Agaricus albolutescens’ gills are pinkish gray changing to chocolate brown in maturity. Amanita aprica’s gills are always white. Study the pictures in the book and you will have little trouble telling them apart in the field.
Some people have trouble eating Agaricus (just like morels) so only try a bit when you first sample them. The nauseating Agaricus from David Arora’s “Lose Your Lunch Bunch” have strong phenol odors (library paste, chemical smell), especially when cooked. Since you never eat mushrooms raw, this odor will become obvious during preparation.
Another great feature of this mushroom is that the bugs don’t seem to bother it for quite a while, allowing the gills to mature to a chocolate brown and a rich mushroomy flavor. We found enough last spring to slice and dry, recently using them in an amazing soup.
Be sure of identification, of course, but Agaricus is one genus that pays you back with great eating if you take the time to study it.
Okay, it’s not like we found a ton, but enough for our first real hunt of the season. We started near the burn, after driving up and down and around to find a spot outside private property. Once out of the car, I quickly found a couple large morels (5-6 “) that were so dirty, I didn’t want to handle them. Took them anyway and found it interesting that they came up under burned Ponderosa Pine. Ron wanted to hunt anywhere but in the dirty new burn, so we left for Green Ridge. It took a bit, but we found about 3 lbs. of beautiful young morels and one just-opened Agaricus. Somewhere between 4000-4200 feet. No rain. Cool with some wind in the open areas, but great to be in the woods! The season is young, but happening!
Sent in by Mary Ann on May 11. Proof that they are starting !
Under the leadership of Robin and Mary Ann, 22 people attended the first mushroom meeting at Deschutes Library in Bend on April 30. Due to technical difficulties, Linda could not show her CD of spring mushrooms. Most of those who attended want to participate in an organized club with meetings at least during fruiting seasons, maybe more often. Several folks from that meeting have been carpooling to mushroom hunting spots during the weekdays. If you are interested in being part of this, contact Mary Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org. A committee of techies is making plans for a website and other social media that will let us upload photos and keep in touch easier. Robin, Vivien and others are working on organization of a local club.
Thank you to “Jim” who filled in with his experiences as a commercial picker and a successful mushroom harvester in many states. Quite a science to time the season’s fruiting. His use of NOAA close-up weather maps to see where the warm days and nights may have warmed the ground was very interesting.
A second mushroom club meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 19, 7 PM, in the Campus Community Building (CCB) next to the library, downstairs in room 116. Yeah! Mary Ann says to bring your mushrooms to show off (at least a picture!) and mushroom stories and advice to share. I should be able to show my slides because the room is wired for media.
See you there!
The morels are starting!