1 Oct 2021
Harvest season has arrived and for mushroom-picking enthusiasts, there is no better time to head into the Pacific Northwestern forests for all kinds of fungi finds. From spotting the perfect mushroom to spending peaceful time in nature, there’s a lot to love about mushroom hunting.
No one knows this better than foragers, Michael Abramson and Dan Parhaniemi, who have partnered with Seabrook to bring a fun and educational guided mushroom hunting experience to Seabrook this Fall.
THE SEASONED FORAGING GUIDES
Michael, founder of Wild Spores & More, a commercial mushroom picking business, was first introduced to the world of mushrooms working in the restaurant industry.
“I’ve worked in restaurants most of my life and grew up in the restaurant industry with my parents,” Michael says, adding that his father was a chef and his mother worked front-of-house.
He himself worked in a fine dining restaurant followed by a private golf course restaurant where he was introduced to different gourmet foods.
“There were foragers that were bringing wild gourmet products into the restaurant,” Michael says. “So I started working with the products, cooking with them, and learning about them from there.”
Michael landed in the Pacific Northwest after he and his wife, Nolynn, were expecting their first child. They moved from Las Vegas to the Seattle area to be closer to Nolynn’s family. After they moved, Michael was faced with a decision of whether to reenter the highly-demanding restaurant industry.
“It’s a grueling, very time consuming job and you spend a lot of time away from your family,” Michael says. “It just happened to be spring mushroom time when we got there and my wife said, ‘Well, why don’t you try the foraging thing and see what the universe has in store for you, just give it a shot? You’ve always wanted to do it.’”
The decision was made and Michael went to his first farmer’s market in Duvall, Washington five years ago and has been expanding the business from there. He, his wife, and two daughters, Falynn May and Ember Ryan, have settled the business in Hoquiam where they have enjoyed living the last few years.
Michael was also a first-time vendor in Seabrook’s own Saturday Market in the summer of 2021 and he is excited to be back in Seabrook to debut this Fall’s foraging class.
“I think people will have a really good experience,” Michael says. “There’s a nice variety in that area and we won’t have to travel far.”
Dan, the owner of Conscious Collectors Cooperative, a guiding business based in Kent, was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and has always spent a lot of time outdoors.
He first got into foraging nearly 10 years ago after transitioning from his hobby of skateboarding to mushroom hunting, and forest ecosystems in general.
“I found edible mushrooms one of my first times out and it was really, really enjoyable,” Dan says. “I think it really just turned into going down the rabbit hole from there.”
As Dan started learning more about mushroom hunting through books, forums, and other resources, it also inspired him to focus on growing his talents in the kitchen.
“With the culinary plants and mushrooms that I was bringing home, it really pushed me to up my cooking skills a lot, too,” Dan says, noting he has many favorite recipes to share.
Over the years, Dan’s passion has grown into an all-encompassing mycology (scientific study of fungi) journey where he continues to learn and share his knowledge with others.
“I’m going out and looking at mushrooms that aren’t even necessarily edible,” Dan says. “And I’m learning how to identify the trees and the plants and trying to get a holistic view of how the forest ecosystem works.”
Dan adds that this knowledge makes him even more efficient in finding the edible mushrooms. He looks forward to spending more time on the coast and teaching others, from mushroom species to habitat spotting, during the guided classes.
“It’s great because it’s so wet out there on the coast, there’s so much tree diversity,” Dan says. “There’s a lot of stuff to be found.”
FORAGE IN SEABROOK’S BACK YARD
The guided classes are about two and a half hours long where participants meet in the guest services lobby and then head to the expansive trail network throughout Seabrook.
Dan and Michael first go over safety musts and helpful resources available when it comes to hunting for mushrooms.
Their first and foremost goal for the foraging trips is for everyone to gain confidence in their foraging skills while enjoying nature.
“I’m really looking to empower people to feel confident in the fact that they can go out and find these things on their own,” Dan says. “Knowing that there are resources available that can give you the information if you have something of value, culinarily.”
Michael looks forward to offering the guides with Dan since they both come from different backgrounds in the mushroom industry. Michael coming from the informative commercial side, and Dan from the educational side. This will give participants a great peek into the mushroom hunting world.
MUSHROOMS APLENTY IN COASTAL FORESTS
The Pacific Northwest, and around Seabrook specifically, offers an abundance of sought-after mushrooms like golden chanterelles, matsutake, chicken of the woods, porcini, king boletes, hedgehog, and lobster mushrooms, shares Michael and Dan.
Whether it is a first outing or hundredth, there is something special and rewarding about harvesting these wild grown, edible mushrooms, steps away from your Seabrook home.
“I think my favorite mushroom, besides a morel, which I feel is like a lot of people’s favorite, is the lobster mushroom,” Michael says. “When you get it at the right age it has a subtle shellfish flavor but I really like the texture of the mushroom… I think it’s one of the most delicious gourmet edibles there are.”
While scouting in Seabrook, Michael and Dan have already found a variety of mushrooms, including porcini mushrooms, Dan’s favorite.
“They’re extremely tasty, great texture and they’re a lot of fun to hunt, they’re a little bit tougher to find than other mushrooms,” Dan says. “They’re one of the most sought after in the world, all over. They’re so delicious, there’s no other mushroom that beats that for me.”
EAT UP THE BENEFITS OF MUSHROOMS
Mushroom hunting is not only a fun form of mental and physical exercise, but also offers a wide range of health benefits when the mushrooms are consumed.
“One thing is that they’re chock full of vitamins and minerals,” Michael says. “Especially Vitamin D, which is something a lot of us lack in this area because of the climate we live in.”
Mushrooms are also high in Vitamin E and some also have antimicrobial properties and can even help control blood sugar levels, Michael adds.
In addition to the health benefits, there are a lot of ways to prepare mushrooms from using simple recipes to pickling them that will benefit taste buds with every mushroom-oriented meal.
“Each mushroom is a little bit different, but really just sauteing them in butter and garlic with some shallots and a little bit of thyme is really the best way,” Michael says. “Especially for a chanterelle, and they do really well with a cream addition.”
One of the great parts about foraging near Seabrook is that the vacation rental homes come with fully equipped kitchens so foragers can whip up a forest to table dinner or snack afterwards.
The guided mushroom foraging classes are every Saturday through the end of November, visit our Mushroom Foraging In Seabrook page for more details or to reserve your spot!