(Long) Wild mushrooms are big business in the Northwest

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Tue Oct 3 18:42:56 EST 2000


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. (Poster's note: they've
increased)

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 culinary courtesy by:
Daniel B. Wheeler
http://www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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