Pull out your mushroom journal because it's mushroom season.
Every fall thousands of people head to the coast and hit the woods in search of their favorite wild edibles.
Three weeks after the first rain falls after a long hot summer, mushrooms begin popping up everywhere along the Washington Coast. For many people who are looking to eat healthier and get in touch with the land, mushroom hunting is the perfect fall activity.
Mushrooms can grow year-round in the Pacific Northwest, but the best time of the year to find mushrooms is in the fall.
Where to Look
While many mushroom hunters like to keep their favorite spots secret, there is some science behind it. Mushrooms prefer certain conditions to grow, so look in areas where there are lots of trees, there are leaves on the ground, and the ground is moist, but not soaking wet.
Since mushrooms don't have chlorophyll they do not need light or photosynthesis to grow; which is why wild mushrooms usually grow in shady, wooded areas where they receive filtered light.
That means the best place to find mushrooms is in the woods. They like places where wood has burned, under leaves, and in moist areas. In addition, old stumps and fallen trees are popular harvesting areas.
While mushroom hunting experts won't share their secret spots, they do agree that if you know your trees you'll be a lot more successful in hunting them.
Here's a quick tutorial on how and where to find mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest:
What to Bring on Your Hunt
First, you're going to want to dress accordingly, meaning you're going to want to wear long sleeves and long pants because you're going to be walking through bushes and trees. Also, you'll want to have some shoes that can handle the moist terrain, as that's where you're going to find your mushrooms.
Next, since you'll be walking in the woods, you'll want to make sure you have a GPS tracker so you can navigate your way back to base camp. When you're walking and looking at the ground, it's easy to go a couple miles in a random pattern. GPS will help you get back.
Then you're going to want to make sure you have a mesh bag to keep your mushrooms in so they stay fresh. It's important to allow the mushrooms to breathe and maintain their original texture and consistency.
Finally, don't forget to pack water and snacks to rehydrate and sustain your energy while you're on the hunt. It's easy to walk five-miles during your quest.
"When in Doubt, Throw it Out!"
Caution should always be taken when hunting wild mushrooms. While mushroom hunting is safe, do your research beforehand and be absolutely sure you know what you are doing. Never experiment with a mushroom that you cannot positively identify. A poisonous mushroom can kill you.
Wild Edible Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest
This list only contains "safe" mushrooms - those that can be reliably identified and have no deadly-poisonous lookalikes. As a safety precaution, all mushrooms should be cooked and eaten in small quantities if not previously consumed.
Cooking with Mushrooms
Back at your Seabrook cottage in your gourmet kitchen, give the mushrooms a simple butter sauté and then toss them with pasta, a little pasta water, and a pinch of Parmesan. A different idea is to cook them in scrambled eggs or on homemade pizza.
Nothing will make you feel like a foodie more than coming home with locally foraged mushrooms and cooking them up on a meal you prepared.
Discover the fascinating and weird world of mushrooms at Seabrook. Reach out and explore the coast with your taste buds. Discover new delights you'll rarely find in the store. Mushroom hunting is more than a weekend of outdoor fun. It's a way to connect with nature on a deeper level by meeting, greeting, and eating.