August 7, 2014

Shrooming

Mushroom picking season has started in the mountains of Colorado.  We have had a very juicy monsoon this year, which always helps the mushroom crop.  This photo shows all of the chanterelles that I picked today.  There were not too many out last year, and this haul is probably more than I found during all of the previous August.  They have now been cut up and are drying in my dehydrator. 

Mushroom hunting is in my blood.  I am 100% second generation Czech, and of course, shrooming has always been an important annual event in the old country.  My grandparents owned a neighborhood grocery store in Chicago, and each Sunday in August, they would head up to Michigan to pick mushrooms to sell in the store.  My mother used to tell stories about how all of the newly cleaned and sliced mushrooms would be drying on window screens all over their house, inside and out. 

My grandparents eventually retired to southwest Michigan where they continued to pick mushrooms every August.  I vividly remember the smell of those mushrooms drying on the screens outside of their garage.  I even went with them a few times to pick, and got good at recognizing the "safe" ones that they were looking for.

Shroomers always try to keep their special picking places a secret from other mushroom hunters.  I made the mistake of pointing out my grandparent's secret spot as we drove past that road with some of their friends in the car.  My grandmother was definitely not pleased! 

I am hoping that in the next few weeks I will start finding boletes, which are very close to the kind of mushrooms that my grandparents picked.  They are of a typical mushroom shape, can get quite large, and have mahogany colored tops.  If my posts get a bit more infrequent for a while, you can bet that I am out shrooming instead of inside writing! 

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