When you think about it, mushrooms are pretty strange. They reproduce via spores. They’re not animals, but they’re not plants, either. Some will kill you dead if you take even a bite, a few will basically drive you temporarily insane, and others are totally harmless and delicious. Some people even think mushrooms are beings from outer space, but those folks may have eaten too many of the second variety.
Whatever the case may be, the Pacific Northwest and Oregon in particular are fertile hunting grounds for a wide variety of mushrooms. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Oregon’s state mushroom (yes, we have one of those) is the Pacific Golden Chanterelle. These egg-yolk colored fungi are abundant in the forests of our fine state, and are prized by gourmet chefs for their rich, mildly peppery taste. They’re not just tasty, though; they’re also great for you. They’re one of nature’s best sources of vitamin D, so they’re perfect for chasing away the wintertime blues.
These spongy-looking little guys can be found following a good rain and a rise in temperature. Morels are a favorite of French gourmands, who adore their uniquely umami flavor profile, and often pair them with asparagus, green salads, meats, and more.
California King Bolete
As the name implies, these Pacific Northwest natives can reach impressive sizes, often a foot or more in diameter, but the smaller specimens are generally tastier and less prone to play host to insect larvae. Especially sought after by Italian, German, and of course, French chefs, the King Bolete smells like sourdough, tastes nutty, and has a smooth, creamy texture.
The Pine Mushroom, also known as American Matsutake, has a thing for great views. It can often be found growing near pine or fir trees at the tops of hills. They have an odd odor, somewhere between cinnamon sticks and locker rooms, but their flavor is to die for. They’re especially sought after by Japanese cooks, who will pay around $100 per kilogram for high-quality specimens.
A Word of Caution
The mushrooms listed above and many others can be found in Oregon. They’re all delicious, but there’s something else they have in common; poisonous dopplegangers. Many varieties of mushroom look alike, so amateur mycologists should be very cautious when sampling the mushrooms they gather afield. If there’s any doubt, don’t eat it.
Photo Credit: wikipedia]