A couple of weeks ago my friend Steph and I were lucky enough to take part in a mushroom foraging event organised by Slow Food Sydney. We arrived to meet our host, Diego Bonetto and our other foraging companions at 6:30am on a Sunday morning, I think it’s fair to say that, having invited Steph only the night before, I wasn’t necessarily her favorite person at this point. It was overcast, cold and way to early to be up on a wintery Sunday morning. By the time Diego had finished explaining that it had been very dry and we are in the tail end of the mushroom season so we should not expect to find many mushrooms I was a bit worried for my personal safety on the drive down.
After listening to Diego’s instructions we piled into our cars and commenced the trip down south. We arrived at a State Forrest (secret foraging locations will remain exactly that :)) around 9:00am and listened to the explanation from Diego. He explained that we were there primarily to find one mushroom in particular-
- Lactarius deliciosus– also know as saffron milk caps or pine mushrooms. These mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with pine trees and therefore only exist in mature pine forests. He also explained that we could find-
- Suillus luteus– commonly known as Slippery Jacks, and
- Tricholoma terreum– commonly known as Grey Ghosts or Grey Knights
The fun continued throughout the day as we went to a couple of different forrest locations, each time finding lots of delicious pine mushrooms and a few slippery jacks as well. We ended up with a collection that I would estimate was around 8kgs of mushrooms between us. As we had no possible hope of consuming all these ourselves, we got on the phone and invited a number of friends round that evening to share in our harvest.
Before we departed back for Sydney though we started a campfire and cooked up a lovely pine mushroom lunch.
By the time our day had finished and everyone had departed my house I was completely exhausted, but it was an experience I will never forget and mushroom foraging is something I know I will keep doing forever. Diego was a fantastic teacher and gave us great perspective on the local environment. He does a few of these trips each year and if you’re interested I’d highly recommend getting in touch with him via his Wild Stories website.
Pine mushroom season goes from around March until the end of May. Diego told us that the Easter Weekend is pretty much mid season and you have a couple of months either side where it is possible to find these magnificent and delicious delicacies. As Diego says, you forage mushrooms not for survival but for “gastro entertainment”. How right he is.
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