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Readers Sue and Lonnie Crotts, of Jonas Ridge, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C., took this photo of Lonnie with 8 pounds of wild oyster mushrooms foraged near their home on Jonas Ridge. The photo was taken on Dec. 29.
Mushroom hunting is something my wife, Sue, and I have talked about doing for years. In July, we decided to collect some edible mushrooms for the first time and have been dining on wild mushrooms practically every week since. We have collected numerous varieties of mushrooms with colorful names such as lion’s mane, honey, chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, chanterelle, bear’s head tooth, black trumpet and these beautiful oyster mushrooms.
The day we found these oyster mushrooms, it was 32 degrees in Jonas Ridge, in Burke County, and the winds were blowing at 35 miles per hour. So, my wife and I decided to try lower elevations for a day hike. While on our way back we were lucky enough to find 8 pounds of oyster mushrooms. The largest mushroom was 10 inches in diameter and was just as tasty as the smaller ones. The large size of the mushrooms and the amount inspired this photo, taken by Sue, and my happy expression. The mushrooms were prepared in a number of dishes including a pâté and soup, sauté and fried. The fried oyster was superb and quickly confirmed with me how this wonderful wild mushroom got its namesake.
Please note that wild mushrooms can cause illness or even death, and should always be positively identified before consuming. There is a lot of information online and a number of good books available to help the amateur mushroom hunter learn about their subject.
There are many local resources, guides and people that can help you locate and identify edible mushrooms. Always consult an expert, an experienced mushroom forager, field guides and/or other trusted sources before consuming any wild fungi. Contact poison control if you believe you’ve made an identification error.
Here are a few resources to consider:
- The Asheville Mushroom Club, thought to be one of the largest and oldest mushroom clubs in the country, hosts meetings and outings for members. Contact the club for more information.
- Visit No Taste Like Home, for foraging events and information. Directed by “Mushroom Man” Alan Muskat, the organization hosts a variety of wild foods forages and workshops.