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how to hunt for mushrooms

2015 August 28
by Rachel Turiel

First, drive up above 10,000 feet and set up camp in the conifers. Feel the emotion: “excitement-relief,” at having three days of family time in the woods. There will be scuffles and discontentment, but somehow the wind, the forests, the big space can hold it all. Note the welcome committee of chipmunks and grey jays. Announce that it’s time to go find some mushrooms.

Put any recalcitrant children on shoulders.chanti2
Scan the forest floor, looking for clearings popping with round-backed, pumpkin-colored chanterelles. Bingo.

Give children each a knife and paintbrush (to remove dirt). Feel the giddyness of our good luck! Pretend not to hear any complaints about mushrooms, about hiking. When they say, “we’ve found enough,” smile through deep breaths and explain about the fact of January.chanti4

Admire the orangeness, the deep fruit-tang scent, the wild buzz of foraging for food.chanti5

Back at camp, crack a beer and start production. Garlic, butter, salt, chanterelles. Bag up. Repeat.chanti6

Repeat, more.  (Allow a grey jay to make off with one plump, orange treat). Let Col build small auxiliary fires outside the campfire, because it makes him happy.chanti7

Next morning, head off on new foray! Pause under tall, late-summer grasses to pluck sweet strawberry gems. Hand to mouth. Could stay here forever. Thunder rumbles, move on.chanti8

New stash! Like a vein of orange gold on the forest floor, follow it. Cut plump fruiting bodies–these messengers from the subterranean!—and, brush off dirt, polishing each mushroom. Feel heart swell to watch the family work together, to hear Rose say, “this is actually fun!”


“Look, I found a tiny baby and a big grandfather!”chanti

Laugh, hearing Dan talking to the chanterelles just as he speaks to me, full of admiring, appreciative words.chanti11

Back at camp, friends arrive with provisions: more garlic! buddies!


Last night at camp. Feel the blessing of this work: the slow walk of searching, eyes to the ground; the quick slice, freeing meaty jewels from the earth; the brushing of each silky, gilled crevice; the feasting on gifts of the season, of this place.

Bring gratitude back home. Stash bags and jars of mushrooms in the freezer, for that surreal notion of January.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Andrea permalink
    August 28, 2015

    OMG – gorgeous stash! I don’t have near enough in my freezer… I’m impressed with how you process and cook right on location. I’m salivating…. and I think I know where I’m headed tomorow :)

  2. August 28, 2015

    thank you for this. i cannot wait to forage these. now that we’ve finally had rain, i hope it isn’t to long.

  3. Connie Colburn permalink
    August 28, 2015

    This was such a good writing. It taught, inspired, and gifted me with new vocabulary and insight. Thankful for the time your family spent and thank you for sharing.

  4. Becky permalink
    August 28, 2015

    city grandma here – sometime when you have time can you tell me – did you cook them and put in bags and freeze or what? Love your writings and I can never figure out your weather as Colin always is dressed warm an Rose in bare legs and short sleeves. I Have never seen yellow/org mushrooms

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 28, 2015

      Dear City Grandma,
      We cooked the chanterelles with butter and garlic and bagged them up to put in the freezer. And yes, Col (Just Col, not short for anything, rhymes with soul) is often wearing many more layers than Rose, who runs hot.
      Take care and thanks for reading,

  5. August 28, 2015

    Has it been raining up there? Cuz you found the end of the rainbow.

  6. August 29, 2015

    Your kids are so lucky.

  7. August 29, 2015

    Hi foraging lady… Rose looks more and more like you!

    Everything in this mushroom three-days recipe sounds appetizing (except, for me, the garlic ;o) and my favourite part (except the mushrooms themselves) is this :

    “Laugh, hearing Dan talking to the chanterelles just as he speaks to me, full of admiring, appreciative words.”

  8. Ellie permalink
    August 30, 2015

    Such delicious beauty. Thank you for sharing.

  9. judith ann henry permalink
    August 31, 2015

    Oh my goodness and the BOUNTY….thank you for letting us “come along”….i want to stop
    work and jump in the car and dive head first into the heavens at 10,000 feet…..thank you for
    giving us lowlanders smiles and feelings of joy just for the notions of YOU each and all…..
    Blessings ever Rachel from all of the directions~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~judith

  10. Susan S permalink
    August 31, 2015

    Never been a big mushroom fan, but maybe that’s because I’ve only ever had the anemic city grocery store version? I would most definitely try these. BTW, I LOVE Dan’s and Col’s buckskin vests! So very cool.

  11. September 22, 2015

    Oo! We did the mushroom class in town at the beginning of summer and Sweetheart and Dumpling did the hike the co-op in town did. Still have not found the chanterelles though. :(
    BTW-I have a crazy SCOBY collection if you need any for another kombucha class.

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