|King bolete. Slightly past its prime, but with careful trimming and slicing,|
onto the drying screen it goes.
I envy people who live in wetter climates like Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for this one thing: they can hunt mushrooms much of the year. We get some in the early summer, but the frenzy starts in August.
The first part of the week produced a flush of "slippery jacks" (Suillus granulatus) near the house. They are boletes but low-grade ones (from the eating standpoint) that quickly turn wormy and mushy — the window for picking them lasts about two days. M. says that they are "too bland" but dries and adds them to her vegetable soup stock mixture.
Today M. and I drove up to the mountainside that we call The Mushroom Store, and the first thing we saw was a car parked in "our spot," a little pullout that I like because it is is a couple hundred yards from where the picking starts, instead of right beside it. I pulled onto a nearby old logging road instead, and we got out as quietly as we could.
We started toward the first area that we always check — and saw movement through the trees. Time for another route. We wear muted colors and communicate with little whistles and hand gestures. You never know, there might be Russians.
So we faded off into the woods and in about an hour had 23 pounds of mushrooms, mostly boletes with some hawk's wings. That made for a couple of hours of processing — the dehydrator full and laboring, screens all over the greenhouse, another screen on the hood of M's Jeep in the garage — for now, because it's raining. We will be dancing them in and out of the sunshine for the next two days.
All this rain — the high water, flash floods, sandbagging — at least it's producing mushrooms here in the Southern Rockies.