Get out the sauté pan, fall mushroom season starting early in Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwesterners who forage for wild mushrooms are noticing that the late summer and fall delicacies are coming in early this year. Edible wild mushrooms are now flooding wholesale markets.
In the maritime Northwest, chanterelles are coming in at least three weeks early. In the Cascade Mountains, porcinis (aka king boletes) and matsutakes (aka pine mushroom) are poking up earlier than normal too.
"We're already seeing mushrooms coming in that generally don't show up until the middle of September," said Charlie Wiley, a commercial mushroom buyer in Southwest Washington and owner of Pacific Northwest Wild Mushrooms. "We've got pine mushrooms coming in. I can't remember ever getting them in August."
Wiley guessed the wild mushrooms were triggered to fruit early by mild, moist summer weather.
"Mother Nature is finicky and she definitely tricked them," Wiley told public radio on Wednesday. "It's shaping up to be an outstanding mushroom crop this year."
Wiley said wholesale prices are falling fast as pickers bring in big harvests, which means you might want to keep an eye out for specials at supermarkets and restaurants.
A new festival in Oregon to celebrate wild mushrooms had to be moved up by a week to Aug. 25 because the star attraction is arriving early. The Mt. Hood Meadows Mushroom Festival was originally scheduled for Labor Day weekend.
Vice president Dave Tragethon said his Mount Hood resort previously hosted mushroom dinners in the spring and fall, but expanded the program this year to include guided hikes, cooking demos and a food fest.
"We are making this more about discovery and getting into the forest to find some treasures, identifying them and coming up with delicious ways to prepare and present them," Tragethon said.
Novices interested in foraging for wild mushrooms are strongly urged to go out with a mushroom expert until they get the hang of fungi identification.
Commercial mushroom foragers hope the unusual early arrival of fall fungi does not lead to an early end of this year's season as well.
"Hopefully, we'll still get another flush of things in the fall," said Dena Wiley, a partner in the Pacific Northwest Wild Mushrooms company. "We count on the October mushrooms to come in for the Thanksgiving holidays."