British Columbia

Mushroom foraging: 5 tips for picking the best crop

B.C. is a land of bounty when it comes to wild mushrooms. The Early Edition's Elaine Chau finds out how Metro Vancouver mushrooms go from the forest floor to the restaurant table with foraging expert, James Town.

Autumn is the perfect season for finding chanterelle and porcini mushrooms

Wild and local chanterelles foraged on the North Shore. (Elaine Chau)

Most people buy mushrooms from the grocery. But every autumn, you can also forage for them in different locations across B.C.

Chanterelles, porcinis, hedgehog mushrooms, yellow foot mushrooms, and even the elusive matsutakes, can be found in Hope, Squamish and on the North Shore.

The Early Edition's Elaine Chau went on a foraging adventure with James Town from Mikuni Wild Harvest, a company that supplies wild mushrooms to Metro Vancouver restaurants. He gave her five beginner tips to get started.

Rex Garcia (left) and James Town (right) say it's easy to get hooked on mushroom foraging. (Elaine Chau)

1. Where to find them

Mushrooms are usually found next to trees. You want to look close to the ground when you're hunting. Dead stumps, or dying wood also tend to attract funghi to grow!

2. Find one good area and stick to it

Once you find some mushrooms, even if they're not edible, you are probably on the right track. Make sure to inspect your surroundings carefully for nearby goodies!

3. Practice Caution

If you aren't certain about what you've found, do not bring them home with you. Chanterelles, porcinis, and pine are easy to identify.

It's best to stick with what you know, rather than take a chance. In the internet age, it's easy to get acquainted with all the various types of edible mushrooms out there. Channel your inner mycological nerd and do some research before you go!

They are small and delicate, but angel wing mushrooms are lovely to cook with. (James Town)

4. Get the right tool

A small mushroom knife is your best bet when it comes to harvesting mushrooms. For most kinds, you can swiftly cut them at the stem, from the bottom,. With a pine mushroom, you can just gently pull them.

5.  Keep your mushrooms dry

If they've been in the rain, lay them on paper towels and let them dry.

Pine mushrooms and porcinis only need some light brushing, but if you have lobster mushrooms, you can be more aggressive with cleaning them. Just make sure they're dry before cooking them!

About the Author

Elaine Chau

Associate Producer for CBC Radio in Vancouver

Elaine Chau was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in Montreal and Vancouver. She is the 2008 recipient of the CBC Radio Peter Gzowski internship, multiple RTDNA winner, and Gold Radio Winner in the Health/Medicine category at the 2011 New York Festivals for her series "AIDS: Then and Now".

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