Mushroom Picking

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Mushroom Picking

Melbourne’s mushroom picking season is well underway and due to a warmer Autumn/early winter, it seems the season for mushroom picking has extended into June this year! As such, many are taking advantage and heading to the regional areas to pick their fill of slippery jacks and pine mushrooms.

But how do you know which mushrooms to pick, where to pick them and how to pick them? Here are our tips for making the most of foraging for mushrooms this year!

What mushrooms do you pick?

Here’s a pro tip: the pretty red mushrooms with white dots that remind you of Grimm’s Fairytales are COMPLETELY OFF LIMITS. The most common edible mushrooms found around Melbourne and Victoria are slippery jacks and pine mushrooms (also known as “milk caps”) although in my opinion, pine mushrooms are the tastiest. These varieties are both brown, and a Google search will easily help you identify them. Of course, if you’re in doubt, DON’T EAT THEM and ask someone who knows a bit about mushrooms for advice.

When/Where do you pick them?

Autumn/early winter is a good time to look out for edible mushrooms, particularly in areas dense with pine trees. For example, if you look around the Mornington Peninsula, and the Dandenong Ranges and you see lots of pine needles on the side of the road, you may just discover a bounty of edible and delicious mushrooms!

How do you pick them?

The best way is to cut the mushrooms at the stem with a knife. DON’T just pull them out from their roots in the ground – this eliminates any chance of the mushrooms re-propagating. Whereas if you cut them at the stem and leave the roots in the ground, more mushrooms will have a chance to grow at that spot for the next person!

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How do you cook them?

Pine mushrooms and slippery jacks are delicious in a simple pasta dish (although pine mushrooms are tastier with a beautiful, juicy texture). I only used pine mushrooms to make this dish as they are my favourite.

Pine Mushroom Pappardelle

This is such a delicious and hearty vegetarian dish where the mushrooms are so meaty, you won’t miss lack of meat at all.

TIP: Don’t wash the mushrooms before you cook them. Use a fine-bristled brush such as an egg wash brush to brush off any soil etc that might be on them instead, because you don’t want to ruin their structure with water.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

200g dried pappardelle

50g butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp thyme leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped

300g pine mushrooms, brushed and sliced

½ bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

300ml cream

1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

1 cup good quality parmesan, grated

Extra chopped parsley leaves, to garnish

sea salt flakes and cracked pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Cook the papperdelle in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, Sauté the garlic and the chilli in the butter in a deep frying pan on low heat. Once translucent, Add the thyme and the mushrooms until soft and cooked through. Add the cream and parsley and cook for a further minute or two.
  3. Add papperdelle to the pan and make sure the pasta is coated evenly with the mushroom sauce. Season and add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired, and serve topped with parmesan and parsley.
Lauren Bruce

Lauren started her writing career as a communications adviser before she realised she couldn’t ignore her passion for food and the arts any longer. She gave up the world of state politics to concentrate on freelance writing and styling. She has since contributed to Spook, Paper Sea and Junkee and is a regular contributor to GRAM Magazine.