A Bounty On the Forest Floor
The forests of Richmond are abundant with a wide array of mushrooms at this time of year. The frequent rain keeps the earth soaked, creating the perfect habitat. The forest floor becomes vibrant with oddly shaped and brightly colored mushrooms, not too unlike a coral reef in rich tropical waters, if you know where to look. Many of these dazzling specimens aren’t safe to eat, but there are plenty that are not only safe, but quite delicious.
Of course, you should make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for before you chow down on random mushrooms you find in the woods. Familiarize yourself with the mushrooms that grow in your area, what kinds of environments they like, and learn how to distinguish between tasty little mushrooms and dangerous lookalikes.
On one of our recent hunts, we returned home with a basket full of black trumpets and chanterelles. Chanterelles are a known choice edible mushroom, but black trumpets have only just recently popped up on the radars of mushroom foragers. You’d be hard pressed to find black trumpets on the market, and you’d pay around $60 to buy just a pound of the tasty morsels, but this isn’t because they’re rare. They’re actually fairly common, just nearly impossible to see if you aren’t looking carefully. Their dark and curled shape make them easy to mistake for dead leaves.
I’ve seen them grow in colonies on lush beds of moss, usually at the base of oak trees, but I only take the mature ones. Many people will greedily snag all they can find in a patch, but if you leave the tiny young mushrooms, your little patch will be easier to find in the future and continue to flourish.
I definitely recommend venturing out into the woods to see what you can find, but be sure to give thanks to the forest for the things you take. Treat nature kindly and the favor will be returned.
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