FRANTIC ABOUT FUNGI

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Wed Apr 29 13:10:31 EST 1998


The following excellent article ran first in FOODday on October 9, 1990. It
includes two recipes about chanterelles, probably about Cantharellus formosus
as currently identified, instead of Cantharellus cibarius which is now known
only from Europe.

FRANTIC ABOUT FUNGI
By Jan Roberts-Dominguez

Summary: Wild mushrooms are big business in the Northwest

	When the rains come to Pacific Northwest forests, so do the mushrooms and
the mushroom seekers. This time of year, it's the prized chanterelle, along
with a plethora of lesser-known edible fungi that are plucked from their
wooded landscapes and brought into the kitchen.
	Within the last 10 years these exotic gifts of nature have become more
than a hobbyist's passion. They're big business, a multimillion-dollar
industry. It has been estimated that the volume shipped annually from Oregon
and Washington is about 3,500 tons, along with another 2 tons or so of
truffles.
	But the gastronomical relationship between mushroom and mushroom lover
pales in comparison to the more complex one between mushroom and forest.
Researchers want to understand this relationship becuase the short- and long-
term health of many of our nation's forests depend on it.
	Take a stand of Douglas fir, for example. Most species within this type of
forest require ectomycorrhizae, the types of fungi (the chanterelle included)
that develop on the short feeder roots of the tree, for nutrient uptake. In
order to encourage the development of ectomycorrhizae, as the trees' find root
systems stretch through the soil they exude amino acides, carbohydrates and
enzymes that increase the availability of phosphorus and other nutrients to
the trees. They also produce their own compounds that stimulate other soil
organisms into action, which ultimately influence the growth of the trees.
	But while the relationship is known to exist, we are far from
understanding precisely how it works. If we knew that, the chanterelle, and
other highly prized wild mushrooms, could be cultivated for commercial use. No
one knows yet exactly what keeps a chanterelle mushroom and tree content with
each other.
	Researchers do know that these fungi tend to develop in areas where
there's a high diversity of tree species; that the above-ground diversity of
plants is also related to the below-ground diversity of these fungi.
	With this knowledge, researchers are now concerned abou the impact
increased harvesting of wild mushrooms may have on the forests. They fear that
we could unwittingly be diminishing the resource or degrading the mushroom
sites, since there is no data on the effects improper harvesting and the
trampling of the sites have on their long-term production.
	But they know enough to ask one very important question: If the mushroom
sites are compomised, what will happen to the forest?
	Although not found at every corner grocery store, the following wild
mushrooms are available commercially. This is the time of year when most of
them come to market. Locate a store where specialty produce is ordered and
sold.
	*Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) are harvested mainly in the fall and
winter. Fruiting seems to be linked to the onset of rains and a drop in
temperature - symbiotic with a number of forest trees, most commonly with the
Douglas fir in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest is a major producer of the
chanterelle. In 1986, 4 million pounds were marketed from Oregon and
Washington, with the average price to pickers about $1 per pound, and between
$6 and $8 to consumers.
	The most common species is the yellow chanterelle (cibarius), which
resembles a beautifully shaped curving trumpe. It smells slightly of apricot
and has a wonderfully delicate flavor. To prepare, remove dirt by brushing or
wiping with a damp towel; trim stem ends. Recipes for the chanterelle are
generally simple so the delicate flavor is not disguised. Simple sautes are
nice, with butter, shallots and garlic, or with eggs, or in delicate cream
sauces over pasta.
	*Morels (Morchella sp.) grow sproradically all year, but mainly in spring.
The market fluctuates yearly, but with an average of 500,000 pounds per year,
Oregon is the largest producer. The price to the picker is about $3 per pound.
	To prepare, simply brush or wipe clean with a damp towel and trim stem
ends. They are often sauteed, stuffed, braised, added to omelets or cooked in
simple cream sauces.
	*Matsutake (Armillaria ponderosa) grow sporadially all year long. This
prized mushroom is the American cousin to the revered Japanese "pine
mushroom," and as its name implies, is found in association with pine trees.
Annual harvest from Oregon and Washington is about 17.5 tons. The price to
pickers varies, depending on the condition of the mushrooms, but it averages
about $8 per pound, retailing (for the preferred young specimens) at $30 per
pound.
	It is generally picked with a damp cap, which, when ready to prepare, may
be wiped with a damp cloth or clean sponge. The matsutake is very aromatic,
and on occasion, tough. Steaming or simple sautes are not uncommon; in Japan
they are also used in soups an stews.
	*Cepe (Boletus edulis and Boletus mirabilis are the preferred varieties)
are some of the most sought-after wild mushrooms. They are widely available in
the fall, sporadically the rest of the year. They are known to be symbiotic
with pine trees and perhaps some hardwood species. The commercial harvest is
fairly limited and the market demand exceeds supply. Price is about $6 a pound
to pickers.
	In preparation, some people remove the spore-bearing body under the cap
because it can develop an unpleasant texture after cooking. Cepes are very
versatile and are often sauteed in olive oil, grilled, stewed or marinated in
a vinaigrette after a brief blanching.
	*Hedgehogs (Dentinum repandum) are available winter and spring and are
symbiotic with Douglas fir and other forest trees. While not as well-known in
the commercial trade, mushroom companies are quickly seeking to expand the
harvest as demand has increased.
	To prepare, remove dirt by brushing or wiping with a damp towel; trim stem
ends. The hedgehog is often substituted in recipes calling for chanterelles.
	*Truffles (Tuber gibbosum) in Oregon are similar to the Italian white
truffles of Europe. They are found in association with Douglas fir. In 1988,
about 2 tons were harvested from Oregon and Washington, with the price to
pickers as high as $80 per pound.

CHANTERELLES IN PORT SAUCE

2	tablespoons butter
2	cloves garlic, minced
1/4	cup chopped parsley
1	pound fresh chanterelles, sliced (if unavailable, use oyster mushrooms)
1 1/2	tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2	cup chicken broth
1/4	cup port
-	Salt and pepper to taste
2	egg yolks
1/2	cup whipping ream
12	ounces fresh fettuccini, cooked and drained
-	Freshly grated parmesan cheese

	Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat, add garlic and parsley and
saute for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have
softened and the juices they release have been evaporated, about 10 to 15
minutes.
	Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, add the chicken broth, port and
salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until sauce has reduced by half.
	In small bowl, combine egg yolks with cream. Stir egg mixture into
mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Do not allow
sauce to boil. Divide the cooked pasta between 4 serving plates, then spoon
the mushrooms and sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
	Makes 4 servings.
	- Adapted from "The Tastes of Washington," by Fred Brack and Tina Bell
Notes:

MUSHROOM POLENTA

1	pound chanterelle mushrooms
1	cup minced onion
3	cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons)
3	tablespoons chopped parsley
2	tablespoons olive oil
1/4	cup dry sherry
1/2	teaspoon salt
1/4	teaspoon white pepper
-	Polenta (recipe follows)
-	Tarragon Bechamel (recipe follows)
1	tablespoon parmesan cheese
1	tablespoon butter

	Slice the chanterelles, if they're small, or chop coarsely, if they're
large; set aside. Over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, parsley and olive
oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 15
minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has
evaporated. Add the sherry and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add salt
and pepper, then adjust seasonings.
	Pour half of the prepared polenta in a deep, round, well-buttered 2-quart
baking dish. Spread the mushroom mixture over the polenta. Top with remaining
polenta. Spread the Tarragon Bechamel on top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of
parmesan and dot wth butter. Bake in 350-degree oven until bubbly and golden,
about 30 minutes.
	Makes 6 to 8 servings. Polenta:
	In heavy suacepan, combine 1 cup chicken broth with 1 cup coarse-ground
cornmeal. Place over medium heat and stir in 2 1/4 cups boiling chicken stock.
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 20
minutes, stirring frequently (be careful of the scalding "plops" that might
escape from the pan). Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup grated gruyere
cheese, 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup sour cream. Adjust seasonings,
adding salt and pepper to taste. Tarragon bechamel:
	Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Beat in 2
tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; do not let it
darken. Whisk in 1 cup milk, return pan to medium-high heat and, stirring
constantly, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon and salt to taste.
	- Adapted from "The Tastes of Washington," by Fred Brack and Tina Bell
Notes:

PICKY ABOUT PERMITS

	Commercial pickers must have permits to gather mushrooms in the Siuslaw
National Forest in Southern Oregon.
	The new system, which went into effect this summer, applies only to
pickers who resell the mushrooms. No permit is required for picking for
personal use, but there is a limit of 5 gallons.
	The permit allows commercial pickers to harvest an unlimited amount of
mushrooms for a set amount of time rather than setting a specific number that
can be picked.
	Permit rates are: $10 for three days, $20 for 7 days, $50 for one month
and $100 for the season.
	Permits are available at all Siuslaw National Forest offices, including
the supervisor's office, 4077 S.W. Research Way, Corvallis, Ore. 97339.

Posted as a courtesy by:
Daniel B. Wheeler
http://www.oregonwhitetruffles.com

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