In the Pacific Northwest, mushroom foraging has become increasingly popular. Aside from the treasure hunting aspect, foraging for mushrooms fulfills a primal instinct we all share, the ancestral hunter-gatherer needs! We are fortunate in that the PNW climate makes the right environments for mushrooms of many types to flourish. While a trip deep into the forest is a great place to find mushrooms, they are surprisingly abundant in urban and suburban places too,
On this week’s episode, I head out with my friend Elan. She is an expert mushroom forager and even has a business out of selling mushrooms! We discussed everything from how to find mushrooms, to why mushrooms are important, and even some conversation on safety and experiences in the woods.
Beginning around age 12, I spent a lot of time in the woods with my friends foraging. Every September before school would begin, my friends and I would take ATVs around the woods in western Washington and look for golden chunks in the woods from the road. Back then, it seemed like we never had to look hard or far for the delicious chanterelle! After all of those years in the forest happening upon them, I have developed a sort of sense of where I will find them now.
Here are some of my best chanterelle tips, from 12-year-old Ashley to present day Ashley;
- Look for Sitka Sprue trees and shore pines
- Layers on pine needles on the ground are a good sign
- Deep dark woods are great spots! If it felt like it went from 2 pm to 7 pm when you walked into a stand of trees, that’s a good thing!
- If you find some forest gold, look downhill from that mushroom- I nearly always find more mushrooms after the first one by walking downhill and looking back uphill.
- If you know you are in a good spot, look under ferns and around roots in the ground
Finally, I urge you to pick up some quality mushroom text, and connect with more experienced mushroom foragers! Make sure you can properly identify your target fungi, and do not take chances if you are not sure.
Enjoy yet another way to make your time outdoors more enjoyable, even if it is during the 10 yards to the river and back.