Wednesday, 25 May 2011

In Celebration of Canadian Mushrooms

The other day my husband was walking through the woods across the street.  He found a morel mushroom.  It got me thinking about my Mom and my Grandmother.  Both of them knew which wild mushrooms were edible.    When I was a kid we got mushroom compost from a commercial mushroom farmer.  For several weeks each spring we feasted on button mushrooms that grew on the top of the compost.

Mushrooms are neither a plant nor an animal.  They are a fungus. Canada has one of the highest mushroom consumptions in the world and British Columbians eat more mushrooms than anyone else in Canada.   First Nations People have used mushrooms in their diet for more than 4500 years, often drying them for use in the winter months.

 There are basically two types of   mushrooms in Canada that are fit for human consumption.  There are those that are grown ‘commercially’ and those that are considered ‘wild mushrooms’.  The commercial mushrooms include the White Button, Brown Button and Portabella.  Specialty Mushrooms sometimes called ‘exotic’ or ‘gourmet’.  

Wild Mushrooms are harvested during their natural growing season.  There is no intervention by humans with regards to their growth or cultivation.  Mushroom hunters and gourmet chefs alike highly prize these mushrooms.  But one must be trained to identify them correctly.  Any mistake could be deadly. 

 The Queen Charlotte Islands of BC are the ancestral home of the Haida FNP.    Chanterelle mushrooms are harvested annually on Haida Gwaii in second- growth timber.  Up to seventy percent of the harvest takes place at Skidegate Lake.  Two hundred pickers arrive every year in August to harvest the wild mushrooms. 

I like to make a Mushroom Goulash using store bought specialty mushrooms.

Momma’s Mushroom Goulash
Melt 2 oz. Butter in a pan.
Fry one small onion that has been finely chopped.
Add about one pound of mixed mushrooms and stir.
Add salt and pepper to taste plus one tbsp of paprika
Put a lid on your pan and let the mushrooms simmer until they are cooked.
Take 1 tbsp of plain flour and sprinkle it over the mixture and blend it in.
Add a cup of beef broth.
Cook for a few minutes.
Add ½ pint of sour cream and mix it thoroughly.
Serves 4

This makes a great main or side dish mixed with noodles or rice. 
Mushrooms Canada

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