This week we ‘pick’ the brain of morel expert Kristen Blizzard (see what we did there? Pick the brain? Har, har.) Kristen and her husband run ModernForager.com, an online resource for foragers across the country. Kristen tells us about everyone’s favorite — the morel — plus other mushrooms you can easily add to your repertoire with a little know-how. We also discuss how to harvest for success in the kitchen. The culinary possibilities are endless!

  • 3:40 – Harvesting arnica when the mushrooms aren’t in
  • 5:00 – Kristen and Trent Blizzard run ModernForager.com
  • 9:40 – Mushrooms totally have a terroir, a sense of flavor imparted by the place they were harvested. It’s simply lovely.
  • 12:30 – What apple is to tree, mushroom is to mycelium. The mycelial network is everywhere! Under every forest floor. They’re tree-like.
  • 14:30 – “The Wood-Wide Web” – check it out https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/the-wood-wide-web/478224/; https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/from-tree-to-shining-tree
  • 21:00 – Morel hunting wonderfully overlaps with spring bear season. Wild mushrooms complement wild game so beautifully.
  • 23:00 – Adding a new mushroom to your foraging repertoire is a big deal! On posting a mushroom pic to an online forum, and having multiple different (very confident) answers on what it is
  • 24:00 – Coral mushrooms are very hard to tell apart. Some cause gastric upset, others are fine. (Corals = mushroom jerky)
  • 26:00 – Safe foraging is like any hobby: The more you do it, the better you get. Don’t eat random mushrooms. Work on your ID skills
  • 28:00 – People from Michigan = Michiganders
  • 30:00 – Burn Morels vs. Anywhere Morels: You’re collecting in a 5-gal. bucket versus just trying to find enough for dinner
  • 32:00 – Do the time to find your spots, then those mushrooms come back over and over again. Black morels come out at higher elevation. The blonde ones often show up lower.
  • 33:00 – Porcinis (boletes), chanterelles, and oyster mushrooms
  • 39:00 – Start with a good mushroom book, then build your know-how. Chanterelles, for example, have a white interior. Less-edible look-alike have an orange-colored interior.
  • 40:00 – Different geographies come with different look-alike of edible mushrooms. If you’re foraging in California, waaaay more look-alike mushrooms than, say, in Colorado
  • 41:00 – Timing of mushroom season is somewhat correlated to moisture… you can find mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest at Thanksgiving that might only be found in spring in Colorado
  • 43:00 – On harvesting mushrooms sustainably – it’s a hot topic! Cutting versus pulling is less important than protecting the environment where mycelium thrive
  • 45:00 – On etiquette, pick what you’ll use, and maybe consider leaving some for other pickers
  • 46:00 – “Shrub” = A mushroom-infused drinking vinegar. Chanterelle shrub… fruity and delicious. Matsutaki shrub… cinnamon and socks. Pick your flavor, everyone!
  • 48:00 – Mushroom confit
  • 50:00 – Mushroom ice cream (candy caps, everyone! The maple flavor is astounding.)
  • 51:00 – Chanterelle sorbet, chanterelle-apricot jam… the possibilities are truly endless
  • 52:00 – Different mushrooms keep differently. Some don’t keep their flavor when dehydrated, so try cooking and freezing those. It varies by the species.
  • 53:00 – SAFETY… it’s pretty intuitive, right? Don’t eat something unless you know what it is. Apart from that, walking in circles looking at the ground is a great way to get lost. A GPS app helps.
  • 58:00 – Check out the Modern Forager harvesting bag … and LOTS of tips on how to harvest for success in the kitchen
  • 1:05:00 – Getting started? Join a mycology society (yes, they actually exist) and meet some geeky mushroom people. Second thing: Find those mushroom groups on Facebook. They’re great. (And all the #humblebragging totally tells you when certain mushrooms are in.) Lastly, get a mushroom book. The David Arora guide is a staple. Plus, “All the Rain Promises and More
  • 1:12:00 – Know if you need a permit, it varies by state/forest. Stopping by a ranger station is a good first step.