Wild, Wild Mushrooms!

It’s wild mushroom season and while it may seem like a great idea to get a box full of the good stuff and save yourself money, you probably don’t want the price to pay to be your life or your kidney!? In France, there are 35,000 varieties of mushrooms and you used to be able to take your find to a local pharmacy. During their studies, pharmacists are asked to learn mycology (the scientific study of mushrooms), and the number of hours of study related to this field has decreased over the years.

While not all pharmacists are necessarily adept at ALL mushrooms, they are asked to know at least the mushrooms of their region. That is not to say that they all do or are all interested. You need to be sure you have a “pharmarcien mycologue” or a member of a club or association interested in mushroom cultures.

Sadly, almost every year, someone perishes from consuming a mushroom they should not have. A very costly lesson to learn.

True or false questions I came across on the internet (and translated), about wild mushroom harvesting:

False. Whether it’s for wild mushrooms or anything else for that matter, private property is sacred. Even if some forest owners tolerate you picking on their land, in all cases, you should be respectful of the place and not take more than you can personally consume.

False. In a public forest, collecting mushrooms is permitted as long as you do not exceed 5 liters (5 kilos). Above this amount, the collector risks penalties. More than 10 kilos will be considered theft particularly if you are a group collecting together.

True. Depending on the amount collected, the penalty and fine could be anywhere from 750€ to 45 000€ & 3 years of prison. Ouch!

False. Firstly because it would be best to collect different types of mushrooms so as not to whip out a particular type. And, perhaps most importantly, you want to make sure that the mushroom that you are picking is edible . . . !

So where can you go to forage for mushrooms when visiting Paris?

Fontainebleau!

Source: Satomatsui.com

The Fontainebleau forest is a 45-minute direct train ride from Paris. It’s also a great spot for you mushroom hunters! Be sure to read up on which mushrooms are edible! Here, you can read about the dangerous French mushrooms to look out for. For generations up to today, this is a place where people have enjoyed mushroom hunting and if you go during the right season you will be sure to find a good bunch to go home with and start cooking!

Once you’ve gotten your mushrooms, you’ll want to know how to clean them the right way. So here’s our chef’s tip:

mushrooms

And for those of us not prepared to take our lives into our own hands, you can always find fresh (and dried), mushrooms at the market in season. To learn more about keeping it seasonal in your kitchen and how to pick the best mushrooms at your market, be sure to join us for a French Market Class in Paris, to get all of our chef’s tips and create a spontaneous, delicious four-course meal of French cuisine!

mushroom

In order to truly relish the best of mushroom season, you’ve got to get them prepared correctly. Wild mushrooms are great to incorporate into your autumn meals such as a mushroom ‘fricassée’ this is a dish that you’ll find in our Autumn/Fall French Bistro Class in Paris, along with a seasonal starter and dessert – check out the class page to see all the menu’s of the different seasons for these typical brasserie style three-course meals.

Try this tasty recipe for preparing wild mushrooms:

Preparing Wild Mushrooms

Learn how to clean wild mushrooms and prepare them the right way
Servings 6 people
Total Time 20 minutes

Equipment

  • Damp Paper Towel, Paring Knife, Frying Pan.

Ingredients

  • 500 Grams Wild Mushrooms Porcini, chanterelles, lamb trotters . . . (1 pound)
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Salt and Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • Cleaning mushrooms can be difficult and long, especially wild mushrooms.
  • 1st Rule: Never clean them with water, mushrooms are like sponges, and they will become soggy. The way to clean a mushroom is to use a brush, a damp paper towel, and a paring knife for the stem.
  • In the case of porcini mushrooms, I separate the head from the foot. I remove the excess green spores (if any) of the under the cap with a knife. Then clean them well as indicated above. Cut the foot in large chunks.
  • Cut the head in chunks but slightly larger. When cooking large porcini mushrooms, I tend to cut the foot into slices (not too thin) & cut the head into chunks (not too large). For Chanterelles, no slicing is necessary, just clean them.
  • To cook wild mushrooms, use a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil, and sauté the mushroom for 5 minutes, remove the oil, turn down to medium heat, and add a TBS of butter, salt, and pepper.
  • Then make your own sauce by adding cream, garlic and parsley, veal stock. In the case of serving with a duck breast, If you wish to serve with a duck breast or other meat when cooked, I add them to the pan of meat juice.
Author: Eric Fraudeau

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