This time of year is probably my favorite when it comes to foraging. Early spring is the most popular with most people due to the short season of the coveted Morel mushroom. It grows in every state I believe, but for a very short period of time. Usually just a matter of weeks.Thus creating much interest in hunting for them when the time gets right. I agree with most, morels are delicious and something to get excited about. However, I’ve learned there are many other varieties of mushrooms that are equally as good (if not better) that grow for months and in mass numbers if the conditions are right. My number one pick by far would be Chanterelle mushrooms. There are several varieties of Chanterelles and all are easily identified as well as delicious. These tasty little morsels are usually a pale yellow all the way to a orangish color and have a slight peppery taste with a hint of apricot some say. I love to put them with pasta, eggs or in sauces for meats. One main perk about the chanterelle is there is really only one look alike (in my area) that is poisonous and it is not fatal. It can cause mild to severe abdominal pain. In my experience, mushrooms that are easily identifiable with few or no fatal imposters are the ones most enjoyable. That goes for anything I forage honestly.
The absolute most important thing when it comes to foraging for anything in the wild in my opinion is, if you are not 1000% sure of what you are harvesting/eating….DO NOT do so. There are certain very common mushrooms here in the midwest that one cap eaten can kill a grown man. It is definitely not something to take lightly. However, with some proper education and experienced friends/teachers, a person can really take their harvests from the wild to a new level. The second biggest rule for me in my foraging is to not introduce more than 1 maybe 2 new species per year into my repertoire. In my experience, it can be very easy to misidentify something when my whole basket is full of things I have not positively identified and personally eaten in the past. I realize this makes it much slower of a process in learning what mother nature has to offer but for me, its the safest and only way to go. We certainly do not stop at mushrooms in our family either. We love to forage for gooseberries, blackberries, wild asparagus and watercress to name just a few. So regardless of your preference on what to forage, with a little knowledge and some good walking shoes….you could be taking your vittles from great to EPIC!