For years, wild mushrooms have been used to enhance Asian and French cuisine. But only recently have fungi lovers seen a general adoption onto California menus. So, if you’re a mushroom lover, here’s one of Mendocino’s best-kept secrets – wild mushroom harvesting.
About 80% of the county’s wild mushrooms come from national forest lands, such as those prominent in Mendocino County. One well-established harvester and distributor, Mendocino County Mushrooms, ships about 60,000 pounds of wild mushrooms per year.
Fall and winter are peak seasons for foraging, however, not even the experts are clear on exactly which conditions produce a bountiful crop. Although a walk in the woods will assure discovery, but don’t pick unless you’re an experienced harvester. Only a few North America fungi are deadly, but many mushrooms can make you ill.
For the less adventurous, you’ll be delighted to know that local chefs take advantage of their close proximity to this treasure trove, and Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, and candy caps are popping up on menus everywhere.
The Coast is the home of Eric Schramm, author of The Mushroom Book, and owner of Mendocino Mushroom, as well as Miriam Rice, author and creator of mushroom dyeing techniques.