Foraged Food: Honey Mushrooms
I'm starting to go on wild mushroom forays with a local mycological society. Oh what fun! And here I am looking at the loot from my first outing, a big old basket full of honey mushrooms "Armillaria mellea".
I know, even though these mushrooms were identified by an expert, that I should only have a small taste today and see how they sit. Even edible mushrooms give some folks a belly ache. I know to cook them thoroughly. And I know that one should resist the temptation to make an entire meal of them, as they are a bit challenging to digest, so I'm thinking I might have some pasta with them, or rice. I found an interesting recipe online for honey mushroom pierogi and I might make those.
I plan to continue going on forays and hopefully will be finding tasty boletes and hen of the woods and chanterelles and oh you bet next spring I will be on the morel trail.
But just now, I have a lot of these honey mushrooms.
Have any of you chowhounders got a good recipe for honey mushrooms?
I've never had them myself, but they are bigger in slovak/Ukrainian/rusyn/polish cooking. My grand father used to take my mom, aunts and uncles picking them like some scene from Pushkin. How they didnt poison themselves I'll never know.
They called them Popinki. They can be used with kasha/barley/rice as a meatless halupki filling.
I try to stay away from mushroom forays. From what I've read, even the Armillaria mellea can cause a form of poisoning (for those who might be intolerant) with some nice symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, mild jaundice and other issues. Even if that lasts only a day or two, it's too much for me. It's not worth all the time and effort (hot to mention the risks) so I just buy mine at the commercial outlets.
But forays are FUN! Even if you aren't collecting to eat, it's glorious to walk in the woods and learn about mushroom.
All the "time and effort" is the payoff, eating mushrooms can be a happy side benefit.
"It's not worth all the time and effort (hot to mention the risks) so I just buy mine at the commercial outlets." Sums up all that is wrong with our modern lives. It all has to take place in the market. Want to stack up the numbers of people who have been sickened, given serious illness that cause permanent damage or actually died from food they bought in a supermarket. MMMmmyum. Let's have some pinkslime e.coli H70157 infested beef, eggs full of bacteria and some contaminated peanut butter. Yummy let's have processed foods so very artificial that you couldn't make them in a kitchen, you'd have to make them in a lab. Veal raised in tiny boxes, strawberries thick with fungicides, arsenic in our rice, blueberry muffins that contain no blueberries and and and...
Me? I try to minimize the number of purchases I make in a supermarket. Sometimes there aren't any options. But big food scares me way more than mushrooming does.
And I especially like that nobody is making a profit by my mushrooming.
I'm a long-time mushroomer and I've picked those very ones many times. They're delicious and I'd use them in just about anything that you might use, say, portobellos. Ina Garten has a fantastic mushroom lasagna that I've made with foraged boletes but I think would be great with the honey mushrooms. Also they'd go well in a red wine sauce for steak or a mushroom ragout served over polenta.
For what it's worth, some people simply cannot tolerate certain wild mushrooms no matter how edible they are to other people. In our house, I can't eat even so much as a teaspoonful of puffball - perfectly edible to my husband and every single other person I know. And my husband can't eat tricholoma myomyces, a delicious but tricky mushroom that I love and am able to eat with no problem but causes him severe gastrointestinal repercussions. If you're 100% certain of your identification, it's still best to have just a small amount the first time you eat a wild mushroom. If you're ok with it then you can indulge.
Love this season. Picked lots of fabulous boletes a few weeks ago (porcinis) and yesterday picked a bunch of another type of bolete (not quite as wonderful but still good).
We used to be close friends with a Polish couple. They took us out and showed us the mushrooms they knew. After that, I got a few good mushroom guidebooks and only picked the ones that were unmistakeable - no poisonous mushrooms look similar to them. I'm still cautious, which I think you really have to be no matter how experienced you are. Most common around here are oyster mushrooms, several kinds of boletes and a type of orange lactarius. More recently I learned about the tricholoma myomyces from a woman who picks them for restaurants. These mushrooms are abundant around here but can be confused with a poisonous variety, which is why I said they're tricky. Since I helped her pick them, I am pretty confident I've got it right. But my husband can't eat them at all so I don't pick them anymore, which kills me because they're about to come into season and it's hard to ignore a carpet of mushrooms. Oh well - I'll just hang tough until morel season next spring and, in the meantime, use my dried porcinis.
I would suggest looking into some kind of mushroom course or workshop, if there's something offered in your area. Buy a good guidebook (or two) with good colour photographs and detailed descriptions. If you meet anyone who is willing to take you out picking, go. It's fun and you can learn a lot.
Thanks to all for the input. I've found so many honey mushrooms now, that I have cooked them at least a half dozen times and even put a bunch in the freezer. Not a hint of tummy trouble. Their flavor is wonderful and the slippery texture that some dismiss as slimy, I find sensual and elegant.
I've had them in soups (mushroom barley) and sandwiches (thin-sliced roast pork loin and sour cherry preserves on a dark rye). I've cooked them with eggs(folded into scrambled), put them on pizza and with pasta. For the pasta I also sauteed vidalia onions and some garlic in olive oil along with the mushrooms and added some water to take advantage of the mushrooms' okra -like thickening properties. And I stirred in a bit of a fresh goat cheese to make a sauce. It was very good. Not so much as a tummy rumble.
I've since tasted a few other species without problems: gypsys and hedgehogs and elm oyster mushrooms. And by tasted, i mean I only found one or two of these species.
I've put away a goodly amount of chicken-of-the-woods (soups, pasta, reduced with onions and wines on (slightly) cheesy polenta & asparagus topped with pine nuts) and an unreasonable quantity of hen-of-the-woods AKA maitake. I've had "Entoloma abortivum" on pasta and pizza and YES, they do taste like shrimp. And I've had lots of glorious puffballs, puffballs that make me moan with joy. I've frozen plenty of all of the above except for the puffballs which I can't resist. I don't do much with them except toss them in olive oil & lemon juice then fry 'em up until the outsides are just a bit browned and the inside is just this side of custard. Ooooooh soooo goood!
The only gastro issue I've had has been with chicken-of-the-woods which has, oh, an effect not unlike prunes, but not severe.
I go slow with the new kinds, and I understand that not everyone can eat all kinds.
I'm super careful with the ID. I've done taxonomy in other Kingdoms/Domain w/ various phyla. I get how weird and wonderful biology is.
It's not for everyone. One has to know what risks you are willing to take. Me? The thought of eating a fast food burger anywhere, scares the s*** out of me. When you look at the numbers, I'm willing to wager, food poisoning from eating out at restaurants has killed far more people than are poisoned by wild mushrooms.