Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foraging again (and again and again)

Last weekend, on Vashon, I got stung harvesting nettles without gloves.  You may have tried the fabulous nettle and mushroom soup that Jerry Traunfeld serves at his restaurant from time to time. Walking in the Vashon forest there were so many nettles along the path that I immediately thought of this soup so Mum devised a glove of a knotted a plastic bag and I snipped them off with my pocketknife.

Unfortunately,  plastic grocery bags are rather thin so after a while the nettles stung through the plastic and I had to add an additional plastic bag until the packet was full.   For many hours my hands had strange tingling sensations, like pins and needles on the surface.   The soup was fabulous.   The recipe calls for button mushrooms but, having no portabellos, we made it with chanterelles.

Chanterelles, huckleberries and nettles from Vashon

Did I mention that we found another basket of chanterelles?  And more huckleberries?  We had 8 cups of huckleberries (huckleberry de-storking is the dark side of berry stalking).  This evening, Mum made a souffle and I helped her make huckleberry jam. 

Chanterelle and Backyard Chicken-egg souffle

Huckleberry Jam
Snoqualmie Trails
Fast forward till today - Friday - when we went up to the Snoqualmie area for a hike and forage.  The weather has been beautiful.  Crisp and bright and only one recent day of rain.  As we drove past North Bend we could see that there had been the faintest dusting of snow on the high stands near the treeline.  Getting out of the car coming from Seattle it was surprisingly cold - we were glad for our gloves and woolen hats.

Wren with a bolete (probably mirabilis)

Mushroom Foraging Permits
On the way we stopped at the North Bend Rangers station to apply for a mushroom foraging pass.  The passes are free but required if you are going to the National Forest with the intent to obtain mushrooms.  If you are hiking or camping you can gather up to a gallon on a whim - but if you are off with your mushroom knife and baskets, you need a permit.

To get a permit, you need your drivers license and the car registration.  You have an annual allocation of 5 gallons per applicant but you don't need to take that all at once.  You choose how many you want and then have 14 days in which to harvest it.  I spoke to the Ranger about it and she said that the major focus right now is on getting foragers to apply for the permit.  Most people just gather what they want under the "one gallon per person" understanding.  She said they are trying to explain that one gallon does not apply if you are meaning to collect mushrooms - its only allowed if you are in the park for another purpose (much as firewood gathering is allowed while camping but one isn't allowed to come to the park to gather firewood for your house without a permit).  She mentioned that they are working on ways to make the process easier and on recording what people gather.  Right now you don't need to hand in the completed permits.

So, we got a permit.

Nobody asked to see our permit but it was a good feeling to have one.  By contrast, when Tara and I found the chanterelles we hadn't got a permit (but we were in the woods for another purpose, hey?) and we felt a bit sneaky.  Well, I did.  It was good to be open and relaxed about our baskets and purpose and to talk to other park users about collecting mushrooms.

We also bought an annual Forest Pass to park at trailheads.  That was $30.

Today, we gathered different mushrooms.  We found a few chanterelles but many angel wings (a slighter version of the oyster mushroom).  Also, we were a few days or perhaps one week late for a huge flush of honey mushrooms.  I have never harvested honey's so I had to take a few a bit past their prime for identification at the PSMS Mushroom Show tomorrow.

Yes, the show is tomorrow!

Its late.  More stories tomorrow....

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