Mushrooms are found all over the world, and many of them can be eaten. However, it is important to exercise great caution when picking mushrooms from the wild to eat, because some are poisonous. If you are not absolutely certain about the kind of mushroom that you have in your hand, do not risk eating it! Even an expert mycologist (that’s a fungus scientist) can become sick or die after eating a poisonous mushroom. The Pacific Northwest offers an amazing amount of edible mushrooms for those who know what they’re doing—but keep in mind that hunting wild mushrooms is not like shopping at the grocery store: there is no guarantee that you will find any specific variety of mushroom at any given time. This guide will introduce you to some common edible fungi in this region and give you some tips on how to identify them, as well as how to prepare and cook with them once you’ve found them.
- The morel is a wild, fungus-like mushroom that grows in the spring, summer and fall months of the Pacific Northwest.
- Morels are not poisonous but they are not recommended to eat raw. If you choose to eat this mushroom raw, it is said that soaking them in vinegar will help prevent any possible stomach upset associated with consuming them raw.
- In some parts of Europe and Asia, morels are actually cultivated for culinary use!
All chanterelle mushrooms have a cap that is yellowish-orange to bright orange. They are found in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of North America, where they grow in summer and fall on the edges of deciduous forests. Chanterelles thrive in both rich soil and poor soil, but prefer a moist environment that has been disturbed by recent rain or windfallen trees. The spongy flesh beneath their leathery skin is white or tinged light yellow, depending on the species and condition of the mushroom. Chanterelles can be eaten raw or cooked; when cooked, their flavor resembles apricots or pineapple with an almost smoky aroma.
Hedgehog mushrooms are uniquely Pacific Northwest mushrooms. They have a spongy, hollow cap and a thick, brittle stalk. The color of these mushrooms ranges from white to gray or pinkish brown. These edible mushrooms provide a good source of vitamin D and can be eaten raw or cooked.
If you’re lucky enough to find hedgehogs in the woods, know that they aren’t poisonous and will add variety to your diet!
Lobster mushrooms are bright red and have a smooth, bulbous cap. They can grow up to 4 inches wide and are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. Lobster mushrooms are edible, but must be cooked thoroughly before being eaten.
Lobster mushrooms grow on trunks or branches of oak trees during the summer months and into fall. These mushrooms have a similar appearance to the morel mushroom (Morchella esculenta). However, unlike morels which tend to grow in woodlands or grassy areas away from trees, lobster mushrooms only appear on tree trunks or branches and don’t grow on grasses like other types of boletes do.
Since they look similar but aren’t actually related species; some people refer them as “red morels”. You can also find these called “king bolete” because they’re so large!
Oregon Brown Truffles
Oregon Brown Truffles are a rare mushroom that is found in the Pacific Northwest. They grow underground and can be found in the damp soil under conifers, especially Douglas fir trees. They are not to be confused with Oregon Black Truffles, which look similar but grow on dead or decaying wood and have a more intense flavor.
Oregon Brown Truffles have been considered a delicacy ever since they were first discovered by settlers as they explored what would become Oregon Territory in 1840. The brown-colored truffle has been called “Oregon’s most sought-after mushroom” by gourmands across the country because of its distinct flavor profile: earthy with hints of mushrooms and truffles; milder than black truffles but still pungent enough to give dishes an extra kick!
Black Trumpet Mushroom
- Black trumpet mushroom is a wild mushroom that grows in the Pacific Northwest.
- It’s also called black summer truffle, after the much-prized European truffles that it resembles. But don’t be fooled: while they’re both dark and have a garlic/onion flavor profile, black trumpets are not truffles. They’re mushrooms!
- The caps of these mushrooms typically range from 1 to 4 inches wide and can be as long as 5 inches. Their color ranges from dark brown to almost black (hence the name).
There are some edible mushrooms in the pacific northwest
While mushrooms can be a bit tough to get used to, they’re also one of the most nutrient-rich foods in existence. And while they may not have as much protein as other sources, they do have a ton of B vitamins, selenium and zinc. In fact, according to this article from Healthline:
“Mushrooms are rich in copper and manganese—two minerals that help prevent iron deficiency anemia.”
Now you know about the different types of edible mushrooms, and where to find them. If you follow these tips, you too can become a master mushroom hunter in no time at all!