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2013 Wild Mushroom Show

Category : October, Wildcrafting

2013 Wild Mushroom ShowEvery year in October the Northwest Mushroomers Association (NMA) hosts a Wild Mushroom Show at Bloedel Donovan Park in Bellingham. It is a unique event, and a remarkable demonstration of the diversity of nature. It’s also really fun!

Members of the NMA gather fresh examples of as many varieties of mushrooms as possible which grow wild in our area. Tucked in with moss to help keep them moist, hundreds of mushrooms are displayed in trays. Labels identify the Latin names, common names (if any), and icons indicating edible or poisonous varieties. Continue Reading

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Lobster Mushrooms

Category : Wildcrafting

Lobster Mushrooms(First published Sept. 2012)

Lobster mushrooms and I first became acquainted when I had some for lunch at a friend’s home. The son of a college friend had brought some lobster mushrooms he had foraged earlier that morning near Bellingham. I had never heard of them, but was enchanted with their bright, orange-red color–the color of a lobster shell. He prepared them by simply cutting them into pieces and sauteing them in butter. The taste and scent intrigued me further–a distinctive flavor with shellfish overtones. In short, they were a surprising revelation, and I’ve remembered them fondly since then. Continue Reading

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Purslane: Pesky Weeds or Gourmet Greens?

Category : July, Menu Ideas, Wildcrafting

PurslanePesky weed? Edible landscaping plant? Medicinal herb? Gourmet greens? Purslane is all of the above.Purslane (Portulaca olearacea–also called “pigweed”) is a determined and adaptive plant. According to a Whatcom County Noxious Weed Control Board* handout, a single plant can produce 240,000 seeds which can remain viable in the soil for up to 40 years. A small part of the plant can sprout into a whole new plant. If you pull it up, the plant can still go on to produce seeds, and if it’s anywhere near dirt it will root and grow again. It’s even a succulent (meaning it stores water), so can withstand a certain amount of drought conditions. (That means it’s also not an herb or vegetable.) Purslane takes hardiness to a whole new level. Continue Reading
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Nettles Tea

Category : Beverages, March, Recipes, Wildcrafting

Nettles TeaSo now you’ve gone out and foraged some stinging nettles, and you know how to handle them comfortably. How do you cook them? Easiest place to start is making tea. Nettles tea is very healthy and will give you a good opportunity to see what nettles taste like. I thought it might taste kind of “green” but it’s got a sweet note that makes it very pleasant. The color is simply spectacular. Continue Reading

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Stinging Nettles

Category : About Food Sources, April, March, Wildcrafting

Photo of Stinging NettlesFor many people, stinging nettles (Urtica dioica and the closely related Urtica urens) conjure up images of nasty burning sensations caused by brushing against the nearly invisible spines on the leaves of an otherwise lovely green plant. Nettles grow wild in damp, shady woods, and can reach several feet high.

Nettles’ sting comes from sharp silicate-bearing, hair-like structures on the leaves that actually shoot irritating substances into your skin like a hypodermic needle. Unlike plants which cause reactions for only some people, nettle stings affect virtually everyone who touches them.

So why not just avoid nettles altogether? Continue Reading

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Northwest Mushroomers Show

Category : Menu Ideas, November, Related Organizations, Wildcrafting

Northwest Mushroomers Association - Edible MushroomsFor 21 years, the Northwest Mushroomers Association has organized a annual public show of an enormous variety of local wild mushrooms. Since I’d never attended a mushroom show before, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Bloedel Donovan Park recently.

At the ticket table I was given a brochure to help me get oriented. I couldn’t miss the rows of tables down the center of the room containing the specimens (see photos I took), but other features weren’t as obvious. For example, experts were available at one table to help people identify wild mushrooms they’d found. Another table allowed people to try making spore prints, one of the most reliable methods of identifying mushroom genus. Continue Reading

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Sautéed Mushrooms and Nettles

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Category : Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Wildcrafting

Photo of Sauteed Mushrooms and NettlesFor many people, stinging nettles conjure up images of nasty burning sensations caused by brushing against the nearly invisible spines or flowers of an otherwise lovely green plant. Nettles grow wild in damp, shady woods, and can reach several feet high.

However, when picked fresh before they start blooming, nettle leaves are a healthy spring tonic and a nutritional powerhouse. Cooking breaks down the chemical that causes the stinging sensation on skin, so cooked nettles are perfectly safe to eat. Continue Reading

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