Culture & Entertainment

A guide to mushroom foraging in Canada

By: Stephanie Zolis
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

A guide to mushroom foraging in Canada

By: Stephanie Zolis

Photo courtesy Yves Boutherand/FlickrCC Fall is synonymous with apple picking, but have you tried mushroom foraging? Typically done during the spring and fall seasons, foraging is a fun outdoor adventure that allows you to connect with nature and discover its bounty. Before you head out on your fungi foray, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a few common species. While you’ll want to pick up a hand guide for identification purposes, the following common varieties are a good place to start. Here’s how to spot them. 1. Hen of the woods When it’s available: September through November What to look for: Typically found near deciduous trees such as oak, hen of the woods mushrooms can be identified by their greyish-brown caps and white stalks that grow in a feather-like fashion. 2. Oyster When it’s available: Spring through autumn, though most commonly during the second half of fall What to look for: Oyster mushrooms have white, grey or brown caps and stubby stalks that grow off the wood of deciduous tress. 3. Puffball When it’s available: July through November What to look for: These round mushrooms vary in size, though their stems are always stubby—it appear as though the smooth or spiked caps are growing directly from the ground. They’re typically white and can be found in both soft and hardwood forests. 4. Boletes When it’s available: August through November What to look for: The main identifying factor of boletes is the underside: Instead of gills you’ll find pores, which look like the surface of a sponge. You’ll likely recognize the king bolete—which can be found near spruce, hemlock and oak—for its wide light- to red-brown cap and long, thick stem; however, different varieties will come in other colours such as brown, red and yellow. 5. Chanterelle When it’s available: July through November What to look for: Some of the most easily identifiable mushrooms, chanterelles are yellow with long stems and upturned gills that resemble the shape of a blooming flower. They emit a faint fruity sent that’s been likened to that of apricots. 6. Morel When it’s available: Late March through May What to look for: Morels, which can’t be cultivated, are easily identifiable by their pitted, hollow conical cap and stem, and can be found around dead and dying trees or other disturbed ground. Black morels, most typically found in hardwood forests, appear at the start of the season, while yellow, white, grey and green morels can be found later on. Ready to get started?  Book your tour through one of these foray organizers or join your local mycological society. Deerholme Farm (Vancouver Island, B.C.) Mycologist Bill Jones leads visitors on a guided foraging tour through Cowichan Valley. Swallow Tail Culinary Adventures (Vancouver) Explore the B.C. rainforest in search of porcini, chanterelles, angel wings, lobster mushrooms and more during a two-hour tour, followed by a chef-prepared wild lunch. The Culinary Adventure Company (Toronto) Find wild mushrooms and edible plants in the heart of the city with a foray into the Don Valley. Puck’s Plenty Foraging Tours (Stratford, Ont.) Field guide Peter Blush takes foragers along trails in southwestern Ontario, where you’ll learn to distinguish between edible and toxic varieties. Long Point Wilderness Mushroom Foray (Long Point, Ont.) Discover mushroom hunting under the tutelage of naturalist Robin Tapley, then learn to pair your pickings with wine and meals with Blue Elephant executive chef Heather Pond. Fall Fungi Forays at the North River Bridge (Baddeck, N.S.) Learn about mycological identification during a Cape Breton foray that’s followed by a hands-on culinary experience and fungi feast at the Chanterelle Inn. Learn about the health benefits of mushrooms and their culinary uses here. Photo courtesy Yves Boutherand/ FlickrCC
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A guide to mushroom foraging in Canada

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