Autumn of course

At this time of the year there are many foods to forage, but with summer ending I began to think about my native trees again and how I should get out on the farm to plant more of them. We need wind protection, we need more habitat, more visual green. But then mushroom season began and so I explained to my trees that I needed them to wait, to wait just a bit longer. ‘Please could you wait’, I asked.

The Lemon Scented Gums said that it was pretty clear to them that if they waited any longer they would perish. I’d driven all the way to Melbourne and bought them. I’d woken up at 5am to get them at market, did I really want to run the risk of losing them after all that effort. I said ‘no…no I don’t want to run that risk but I just can’t stop foraging…I can’t, I’m in a groove and I can’t get out…just a few more weeks, I pleaded, the mushrooms are out and in fact the chestnuts are too and they won’t be back in the area for another 12 months’, I explained to the Gums.

I grabbed my baskets and knife and joined my neighbours in the pine forest.

In the car later, I began to spot maturing chestnut trees and stopped to assess their development, ‘not ripe yet’.

I explained to the chestnuts that I would be back. The chestnut trees were huge, with lots of nuts, how very exciting.

In the pine forest that Beela took me to, there were lots of Lactarius deliciosus, Pine mushrooms. We harvested them until our baskets were full.

I went back to the chestnut trees a few weeks later and saw that many of the burrs had fallen to the ground. They must be ready, I thought, and went and stood under the large canopy of one of the trees, a rain of falling chestnut burrs fell all around me and I could hear the hysteria of sulphur-crested cockatoos. The cockatoos were eating the chestnuts green, before they had matured. I couldn’t believe it, at the rate that they were demolishing them there would be not one left. I looked for other trees and again the same situation. I was genuinely taken aback…surely I would not have to resort to buying chestnuts?

And then face book posts appeared about a bounty of chestnuts here and there, in places where the cockatoos had yet to feast. And so through word of mouth and social media I harvested castanea enough to fill a basket and we made chestnut filled ravioli.

 

Pine mushroom forest, Eganstown, Victoria.

Pine mushroom forest, Eganstown, Victoria.

Pine cone detail.

Pine cone detail.

Looking with friends of all ages. Children love foraging. They are quick learners and are quick to teach others.

Looking for pine mushrooms with friends of all ages. Children love foraging. They are quick learners and are quick to teach others.

Artemisia, Lucy and Jamie. All three are comfortable with spending time in the forest, they inspire each other and helpp each other to find edible mushrooms.

Artemisia, Lucy and Jamie. All three are comfortable with spending time in the forest, they inspire each other and helpp each other to find edible mushrooms.

Jamie picks a large Saffron Milk Cap and inspects its quality.

Jamie picks a large Saffron Milk Cap and inspects its quality.

Lucy finds a very large Saffron Milk cap.

Lucy finds a very large Saffron Milk cap.

Children learn very quickly how to handle knives safely.

Children learn very quickly how to handle knives safely.

Gorgeous basket with pine mushrooms.

Gorgeous basket with pine mushrooms.

Once you learn to identify a species you can spot it from miles away. Your eyes so very quickly adapt and learn to detect a gentle rise in the surface of the pine needles.

Once you learn to identify a species you can spot it from miles away. Your eyes very quickly adapt and learn to detect a gentle rise on the surface of the pine needles.

My friend Amber joins me on a forage walk and is the first two find edible mushrooms. Saffron Milk Cap and a Rooting Shank.

My friend Amber joins me on a forage walk and is the first to find edible mushrooms. Saffron Milk Cap and a Rooting Shank.

I visit John Le Gerches forest near Creswick. The walk is beautiful and we come across slippery jacks and some Russulas but all in poor condition so we focus on the pleasure of beign outdoors.

I visit John La Gerche’s forest near Creswick. The walk is beautiful and we come across Slippery Jacks and some Russulas but all in poor condition so we focus on the pleasure of being outdoors instead.

Artemisia and Fynn.

Artemisia and Fynn.

Chestnut tree.

Chestnut tree.

The tree is enourmous but the cockatoos are many.

The tree is enormous but the cockatoos are many.

All of the burs have been opened and eaten by the cockatoos.

All of the burs have been opened and eaten by the cockatoos.

Eventually my friend Toni takes me to Gregs house and there finally after many weeks, we harvest nuts.

Eventually, my friend Toni takes me to Greg’s house and there, finally, after many weeks, we harvest nuts.

Boiled.

Boiled.

With Pine Mushrooms and chestnuts in the kitchen I am a very happy forager.

With Pine Mushrooms and chestnuts in the kitchen, I am a very happy forager. You can give the pine mushrooms a very good wash if they need it, mine did. And they will cook just fine on high heat. They have a firm texture that can deal with a good 3 -5 mins of cooking in a frying pan.

I decide to pickle some of my pine mushrooms. Hence I have a frying pan on one side and a large saucepan on the other. I fry up small batches and then place each batch in the large pot and salt.

I decided to pickle some of my pine mushrooms. Hence I have a frying pan on one side and a large saucepan on the other. I fry up small batches and then place each batch in the large pot and salt.

Sliced mushrooms ready to be fried.

Sliced mushrooms ready to be fried.

Foraged lemons from a wonderful Daylesford local who said I canb harvest when ever I need to.

Foraged lemons from a wonderful Daylesford local who said I can harvest whenever I need to.

Adding spices: garlic, peppercorns, chilli.

Adding spices: garlic, peppercorns, chilli, bay leaves.

Sterilised jars are ready for filling.

Sterilised jars are ready for filling.

Full.

Full.

Ready to eat.

Ready to eat.

In a private garden a small harvest of Slender Parasols.

In a private garden a small harvest of Slender Parasols.

Macrolepiota clelandii

Macrolepiota clelandii, Slender Parasol,  from a private garden.

I find some Macrolepiota Clellandii and have them for breakfast with chestnuts.

For breakfast Macrolepiota Clellandii and crumbled chestnuts.