Mushrooms of the PNW

Attention all fungi enthusiasts and budding mycophiles, a must see virtual program is headed your way. You definitely need to check out Introduction to Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest this Tuesday, April 13th at 6 pm on the library’s Crowdcast channel.

Join Jeremy Collison, founder of Salish Mushrooms, for an introduction to mushrooming in the Pacific Northwest. This program is perfect for anyone curious about mushrooms. No mycology knowledge or previous foraging experience necessary. Learn about the basics of mushrooming in the Pacific Northwest, find out about native mushrooms, review basic safety concerns, and learn how to identify mushrooms using the inaturalist.org website.

Rest assured that we have plenty of resources and materials to support your mushroom enthusiasm, before and after the program. From books on mushroom identification, cultivation and just plain fungi fascination the library has got you covered.

So join us this Tuesday for a great program and think of Everett Public as your source for all things mushroom.

Did You Know? (Fungus Edition)

The biggest living thing in the world is the Honey mushroom?

funguskingdom

You can’t see it because it lives mostly underground, but it measures 24.6 miles from side to side, and is at least 2400 years old!

I found this information on page 7 in the book The Fungus Kingdom by Rebecca Stefoff. Scientists call it an Armillaria ostoyae and it was discovered in the year 2000 in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. There are others in the United States as well. This book is filled with information and pictures concerning the six different types of fungi.

fieldguidetomushroomsSince there are so many toxic varieties of mushrooms that look very similar to edible ones, you should NEVER eat mushrooms you find unless you are 100% sure of what you have. Even with an identification guide like Field Guide to Mushrooms of Western North America by R. Michael Davis, you must be very careful.  I like mushrooms, but I must admit I am afraid of eating ones that don’t come from a grocery store! The book 100 Edible Mushrooms by Michael Kuo gives excellent tips on identification and tells whether a certain mushroom may have poisonous look-alikes. There is also a small section of recipes.

mushroomcultivatorTo make it easier to know exactly what type of mushroom you have, you can grow your own mushrooms. The Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets can help you get started growing your own mushrooms at home. It can be as easy as starting with pre-inoculated mediums or as technical as designing a sterile room and cultivating your own agar culture. I was surprised how many details are involved in growing mushrooms, but this book is extremely informational.

gorgeousworldofmushroomsThen, once you have bought, found or grown your mushrooms, Northwest Essentials by Greg Atkinson has a section of recipes with some yummy looking choices including mushroom bisque and marinated chanterelles. If you need more, A Cook’s Initiation into the Gorgeous World of Mushrooms by Philippe Emanuelli has many recipes with directions and photos of mushroom dishes that you could make.

buzzedSome people deliberately eat or drink mushrooms “recreationally” because of their toxicity!.Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the most Used and Abused Drugs by Cynthia Kuhn, PhD, Scott Swartzwelder, PhD and Wilkie Wilson, PhD tells about the psilocybin mushrooms and their hallucinogenic effects on people.

darkemperorPeople even write fictional stories about mushrooms. There is a short story in the book The Stories of Ray Bradbury called “Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!”. It is dark in the cellar….. and we all know mushrooms love that! But, if your kids are afraid of the dark, then Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman may be a better choice of book that shows them a magical side of nighttime. It has pretty pictures and a nice little poem about mushrooms growing in a forest, with other poems featuring a spider, a cricket, a bat and more. Another story for kids is Mushroom in the Rain a book about animals taking cover in a rainstorm. It shows children the importance of sharing and is written by Mirra Ginsburg.

trashorigamiAnd finally, for those of you who just can’t get enough mushrooms, you can make your own origami mushrooms! Trash Origami by Michael G LaFosse and Richard L Alexander is full of fun ideas for using recycled candy wrappers, old calendar pages and those left-over bits of wrapping paper.

The Mushroom Hunters

The Mushroom Hunters cover imageAs our days grow dark, dank, and dismal, I like to read books about people who work outdoors in all types of weather. Maybe it just makes me feel warm and snug as I sit inside reading.

If you are interested in foraged foods or just eating, The Mushroom Hunters by Langdon Cook takes you out into the woods with the people who make their livelihoods collecting the mushrooms that go to restaurants and stores for our eating pleasure. The woods where they find these mushrooms are deep and dark and lonely (and sometimes scary and dangerous and home to drug manufacturers). Most mushroom pickers are secretive and protective of “their” picking patches, even though most are on public lands. Langdon Cook makes a friend of one picker, Doug, who allows him to tag along and introduces him to their world.

We meet pickers, most of whom are not friendly to strangers, and some of whom are downright paranoid. They work year-round in the woods, traveling up and down the coast, as different varieties of mushrooms come into season. Over the years they have become very knowledgeable and intuitive about the growing habits of mushrooms.

The pickers sell the mushrooms to buyers. As you’d expect, there are some buyers who are less honest than others. Doug introduces Cook to one of his favorites, Jeremy Faber. Faber started as a picker and wholesaler and went on to become a buyer who now sells to upscale restaurants and grocery stores. He also sells from a booth in Pike Place Market. He is very ambitious and focused , working both to expand the market for mushrooms and wild foods, and to grow his business.

Cook works with pickers and buyers, many of whom are colorful characters you might not want moving in next door to you. We also get to tag along for visits to fancy restaurants and hear from some of the chefs who use the expensive mushrooms. This book allows us entry into a world and lifestyle most of us will not experience. I personally prefer to continue eating the mushrooms rather than searching the woods for them (I’m afraid of running into a zombie). I’m planning to seek out different varieties after reading this work.

If you’ve had a chance to read this excellent book and would like to discuss it further, you are in luck. On Monday February 24th, starting at 6 in the Northwest Room at the Main Library, you can join in a book discussion of The Mushroom Hunters lead by our northwest historians.