It was frosty when I left the house this morning. It was the first frost I’ve seen for the year. It may not be the first Canberra’s seen, but it’s my first. I was pretty impressed that it was still frosty at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning. It made for a pretty start to our journey. We were heading north east, along the road to Sydney, to forage for wild mushrooms in Penrose State Forest. I have wanted to go foraging for mushrooms for years, but have needed someone to take me who knows what to collect. I was overjoyed to discover Jill, from FoodPath Culinary Tours, runs mushroom foraging trips. It is of the utmost importance to go mushrooming with someone who knows what to collect, and to collect nothing more than they suggest. In recent years two people have died in Canberra because they ate mushrooms they thought were edible. Do not take risks. Get a local guide.
It’s such a lovely thing to spend a day doing, wandering through a pine forest looking for mushrooms. I told myself little stories about the fairies that lived under the toxic red mushrooms with white spots and took great joy discovering pine mushrooms that were hiding underneath the pine needles. We collected the pine mushrooms, also known as saffron milk caps; and slippery jacks. The pine mushrooms are orange and have concentric circles on their tops and orange gills underneath. Slippery jacks are dark brown on top, and usually slippery, though today the ones we saw were a little dry. On the bottom, instead of gills, they have a sponge-looking spores that are a lovely yellow colour.
I think I’ll peel the slippery jacks. I’m told they’re better that way. I’m going to pan fry the pine mushrooms and serve some of them with homemade rabbit ravioli, and some with ravioli filled with Jerusalem artichokes. I don’t yet know what I’ll do with the rest.