Here are some tips before you go foraging.
Mushroom foraging is a big activity in Colorado during the spring and summer, and for good reason.
The state has several species of mushrooms, while many are edible, others are not. Now, with the increased interest in outdoor activity, this may be a booming year for mushroom foraging around the state. Not only is it a new way to get out and explore, but it can also save a few bucks.
Before you head out, here are a few things you should remember:
Research know what you are looking for.
There are several species of poisonous mushrooms that grow in the state, so do your research and make sure you're looking for and picking the edible kind. The most commonly found edible mushrooms in Colorado are morels, chanterelles, and puffballs, according to Sciencing.com.
"Morels are found in river bottomlands beneath leafy trees such as elm. Look for chanterelles in moist, dark areas. They too depend on trees, so look in heavy stands of timber. Puffball mushrooms can be found in open fields and on forest logs; they grow at most elevations in Colorado," states the site.
Know where to go.
This plays into the previous tip, you have to research where you're heading to see what grows there. If you have a specific mushroom species in mind, learn everything you can about where it grows, what other plants it's known to grow with, if there are imposter mushrooms you can mistake it for, and so forth.
Safety is key.
Despite the delicious allure of a perfect mushroom, it's not worth putting yourself in danger. When heading out into the wilds to forage, be smart, and be safe. If it seems like it's too dangerous, that's probably because it is. Pay attention to where you start, and where you go. It's extremely easy to get caught up in the hunt and find yourself far off from your group or lost and unable to get back. There's also a lot of wildlife, plant life, and other people out exploring the state, so pay attention and be aware of those around you.
Have the right clothing, shoes, and equipment.
Mushrooming hunting is not a walk in the park. As with any outdoor activity in Colorado, it's wise to be prepared with layers and a hat—the weather can change quickly and temperatures up in the mountains can get very cold. Make sure you have a knife to help safely remove the mushrooms and a bag to carry them in, as well as a soft toothbrush or paintbrush to clean off the delicate mushrooms after you pick them.
Remember that picking mushrooms is part skill, part luck.
You can be totally prepared and still find nothing; it's all just part of the hunt. If you want to have a successful first experience, there are guides you can hire who are experienced and know where things tend to grow. You can also buy a book or guide or join any of the state’s mycological societies such as the Colorado Mycological Society or The Pikes Peak Mycological Society.
It's recommended to look near trees, as most Colorado mushrooms grow in association with trees. Work your way up a slope as you hunt for the mushrooms rather than starting at the top and working your way down.
Mushroom foraging can be a fun and relaxing activity that has the potential to generate either a little food for your table, or if you find enough, a way to sell locally sourced products to local businesses.
Do you know of a special place in Colorado to find mushrooms? Any other advice or tips to offer us? What's your favorite summer mushroom recipe? Sound off in the comments.