wild mushrooms

wild mushrooms

How to forage wild oyster mushrooms


Foraging Wild Oyster Mushrooms


If you’re in the California area where wine country tours are extremely common, you should think about taking a day to forage some wild oyster mushrooms. While these mushrooms can run you a pretty penny at a gourmet market, there’s no reason why you can’t just go forage for them yourself. In fact, these delicious mushrooms are some of the only ones that you can find year-round. So, whenever you’re ready to go on some California wine tours, keep a lookout for these delicious mushrooms!


The Appeal of Wild Oyster Mushrooms

When you buy oyster mushrooms, they are most likely cultivated rather than plucked from the wild. As you probably know from other kinds of foods, there’s nothing like the taste of food that has been taken right from the great outdoors. Plus, foraging for them yourself adds another type of appreciation for the taste.


Although you can find these in California during every season, many people believe that oyster mushrooms are most tasty in the fall. Autumn is the perfect time to check out some Napa Valley wine country tours, so this works out great if you want to pair these two activities together. You can also stay in the city and schedule some wine country tours from San Francisco. No matter where you are in California, beautiful rural areas are just a short drive away.


How to Identify Wild Oyster Mushrooms

Of course, whenever it comes to foraging for wild food, it’s important that you know how to identify what’s what. This is especially true with mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms (pleurotus ostreatus) break down dead hardwood. It’s a decomposer mushroom that is commonly found on stumps and dead trees. Next, we’ll offer some information to help you with oyster mushroom identification.


The reason why they are called oyster mushrooms is because they grow together in bunches and look like a bunch of oyster shells stacked up on top of each other. The fact that they grow in bunches makes them a lot more convenient to forage. They are easier to see, and once they are found, you usually have a decent haul right off the bat. Oyster mushrooms are gilled on their undersides as well as part way down their stems. The color of their tops ranges from off-white all the way to brown.


Add Mushroom Foraging to Your Trip’s Itinerary!

Whether you plan on going on a Napa and Sonoma wine country tour or some San Francisco wine tours straight from the city, foraging for wild oyster mushrooms is another activity that we recommend adding to your list. Seriously, these clusters of oyster mushrooms are often found pounds at a time! After you’ve spent a lovely day in the beautiful forests of Northern California foraging for some wild oyster mushrooms, you can sit back and relax, knowing that you have some delicious meals on the way. Their mild flavor is perhaps best enjoyed sautéed in butter and oil or added to some creamy sauces. You can also make “oyster” stew!

Want to learn with us? Check out our wild mushroom classes all around northern CA throughout the winter and spring. Check out all our dates here.

wild mushrooms

How to grow your very own oyster mushrooms at home!


Have you had the chance to try oyster mushrooms yet? These delicious mushrooms can be bought in markets, foraged, and even grown at home or in your backyard! There are many reasons to start growing oyster mushrooms. For one, it’s fun to care for, harvest, and eat food, all from the convenience of your home. Moreover, oyster mushrooms are delicious and have a number of health benefits!


Oyster mushrooms make a strong case for being the easiest type of mushroom to grow at home. Not only do they grow quickly but they are also pretty resistant to competing organisms. Plus, this kind of mushroom can grow from a variety of substrate materials. Of course, if you’re foraging for oyster mushrooms in the wild, you’ll want to watch out for oyster mushroom look-alikes. The Angel Wings mushroom, for example, is a potentially poisonous mushroom which looks similar to the oyster mushroom. However, when you grow at home you won’t have to worry about this! Below, we’ll break down how to grow oyster mushrooms so you can get started!

The Grow Process

The first step is inoculation. You’ll want to mix the oyster mushroom spawn with some type of substrate material. This can be coffee grounds, sawdust, cardboard and more! You’ll then place this mixture into bags that have small holes so that air can be exchanged properly.

Next, the incubation period begins. Place the bags in a dark room that is ideally somewhere between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The spawn will grow within 10-14 days. You’ll notice the presence of white webs growing in the bag when the spawn is ready to start fruiting.

To start the fruiting process, the bag should be exposed to fall-like conditions. This includes cooler temperatures, low-level light, lots of fresh oxygen, and high humidity. After you begin this process, these mushrooms will become full size within a week.


The Health Benefits


Oyster mushrooms have reached a new level of popularity in recent years because of their health benefits, how easy they are to grow, and because they make a great addition to all kinds of meals. The list of health benefits from oyster mushrooms really goes on and on. They help boost the immune system. They are antiviral, antimicrobial, and anticancer. Plus, oyster mushrooms are rich in protein, free of cholesterol, and have tons of vitamins including vitamin D and vitamin A.

They are called oyster mushrooms because they grow in bunches and their tops tend to look similar to oyster shells. You can grow quite the haul at home with very little trouble. There is obviously plenty you can do with this mild-tasting mushroom which can help compliment a variety of meals.

You can toss the mushrooms into a pan and sauté them with butter and oil, or you can add them to a creamy sauce. Many people enjoy tossing oyster mushrooms into a stew. Once you have them readily available in the comfort of your own home, you’ll be able to figure out plenty of creative ways to use them.

wild mushrooms, Recipes

A Morel Dilemna: AND a recipe

This is a guest post from our fearless mushroom leader Patrick Hamilton  

The snarkiest of mushroomers, and even the most polite and PC picker, will tell you, "Morels grow where they want to grow."

            Simple as that. And difficult as that.


            After decades of pursuing these delectable fungi, this morel hunter knows full well what others speak of with either despair or hopefulness, in sarcasm or earnestness: morels seem to appear here and there, but not there and here—at least not consistently.

            Or maybe they do. To find out, you simply have to obey the adage all true mushroom people understand: "If you don't go, you won't know!"

            So come on one of our Sierra mountain forays and explore the opportunities to find the ever elusive morel, or maybe even spring king porcini!

            Here's a quick and easy method for what to do with those you might find.


-Morels: The Very Best Way-

Serves 2

            Rinse the morels, making sure no dirt is left on the stem bottoms. Then chop or slice a handful into wheels, and put them into a medium hot sauté pan with 1 1/2 tbsp of sweet butter. Cook for at least 5 minutes, mixing a bit. 

            In the meantime, finely chop about 1 tbsp of shallots and toss them in too. Stir, shake, or agitate the pan to mix. Cook for a minute or two. Add a small splash of dry Sherry; mix and cook au sec, then add a nice amount of heavy cream and cook for just a minute or two over low heat.

            Use your best sea salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to finish.

            Serve over great bread (like brioche, but not any strongly flavored loaf) or toast rounds. This will be another one of those voila moments that will make you the most popular person in the kitchen, period. 

            Do share.


Wild Mushroom Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Chanterelles and Black Trumpets are my favorite winter mushrooms. The textures go great together to make an amazing stuffing. If you want to forage your own that always the most fun (click here for our mushroom hunting classes if you want to come out with us!), but Far West Fungi in The Ferry Building is a great local source to buy them.                          

Fresh Chanterelle and Black Trumpet Stuffing

            1.5 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms

            1/2 lb black trumpet mushrooms

            1 1/2 cups cubed whole wheat bread

            3 3/4 cups cubed white bread

            1 pound ground turkey sausage

            1 cup chopped onion

            3/4 cup chopped celery

            2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage

            1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary

            1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

            1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped

            3/4 cup dried cranberries

            1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

            1 cooked turkey liver, finely chopped

            3/4 cup turkey stock

            4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


-Preheat oven to 350 degree F (175 degree C). Spread the white and whole wheat bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until evenly toasted. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.

-Coarsely chop the chanterelle mushrooms

-Clean the Black trumpets (people say you’re not supposed to, but I wash them under cold water, I’ve never noticed a problem)

-In a large skillet, cook the sausage, mushrooms, and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.

-Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl. Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries, parsley, and liver. Drizzle with turkey stock and melted butter, and mix lightly. Spoon into turkey to loosely fill. If you’re scared of putting stuffing in the turkey you can bake it in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. I personally don't recommend it though, its so much better cooked in the turkey!

That’s it! Cook your turkey as you usually would, and enjoy.


This months CSF

With all the rain we've been getting, there are an insane amount of mushrooms around, as well as some really nice wild greens.  Below is what came in this months CSF box, as well as a recipe: Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms (Northern CA)

Chanterelles have a wonderful nutty apricot flavor that tastes like fall (at least to me).  Think about the misty mountain oak forests where they are foraged when eating them, it really does make them taste better.

Black Trumpet Mushrooms (Northern CA)

Black trumpets are some of my favorite mushrooms. They have a really subtle smokiness and great texture. I like to sauté them with butter and garlic and eat them straight, but they're also great in soups. To clean, wash them under cold running water.

Black Cod (Northern CA)

This is a really great, very fresh fish. Sauté each side for a few minutes with lemon and butter, this lets the natural taste of the fish shine through. There are some pinbones in this fish, but they come out easily with tweezers.

Miners Lettuce (Santa Cruz)

With all this rain we’ve been getting, the wild greens are going crazy. This is one of my favorites, named for the gold rush miners (who ate it for its high vitamin C content). Miners lettuce  is great in mixed salads or all on its own.

Wild Ginger (Santa Cruz)

Wild ginger has a milder flavor than its cultivated cousin, but can be used in any recipe that calls for ginger. I also really like to make a tea out of the finely chopped root, which helps cure stomaches or motion sickness. Along with the miners lettuce, this also came from a forager down in Santa Cruz.

Oxalis Flowers (San Francisco)

You may know these flowers from the incredibly invasive clover-like plant that runs rampant in San Francisco. Well now you know a way to get rid of it--eat it!  This plant is named for its oxalic acid, which is what makes it taste sour. Eat too much (meaning pounds), and it will mess with your digestion, but throwing a couple of these flowers in a salad adds a really great sour note (and of course, makes it look cool).

Ginger Curry with Pork

If you don't have dried apricots on hand, you can substitute golden raisins instead. Wild ginger livens this dish and gives it a mild, peppery heat.

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and 1 cup rice mixture)


2  (4-ounce) boneless, center-cut loin pork chops

1/8  teaspoon  black pepper

Dash of salt

1  tablespoon  vegetable oil, divided

1/2  teaspoon  grated lime rind

1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice

1 1/2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger

1/2  cup  chopped onion

1/2  teaspoon  red curry paste

1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

2  tablespoons  chopped dried apricots

1  teaspoon  honey

1  garlic clove, minced

1 1/2  cups  hot cooked basmati rice

2  tablespoons  thinly sliced green onions


Sprinkle pork with pepper and salt. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan. Combine rind, juice, and ginger in a shallow dish; add pork, turning to coat.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and curry paste; cook 2 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add pork mixture, broth, apricots, honey, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pork is done. Remove pork from pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add rice; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve rice mixture with pork, and top each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions.


Mushroom Season Has Arrived!

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It's here, officially.  The rains came, then we waited, we went to mendocino, found nothing, then waited some more. But now it's here. Behind every stray bramble, beneath every knotted pine, you’ll find them (or hope to).  We’ve waited through the months of cracked ground, dust storms (well, maybe not dust storms), and wilted greens, but now they’re here.

I, and a few like me, found our first mushrooms of the season today.  Porcini, oyster, many yet to be identified. As an aside, I also found some bullwhip kelp, which I am going to try once again to make into a pickle. The last attempt tasted about how you might imagine raw thick rubbery seaweed might taste when prepared incorrectly…raw, thick, and rubbery.It’s a very exciting time, discovering fresh fungus, after so many months of abstinence.  Like that first cigarette after you’ve quit for a month.  Almost worth the wait, just to experience it fresh.


on design

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about design.  Website design, logo design, package design, business design.  So much is wrapped up in the design of a product label, so much time agonizing over logo color and package size. So many places to buy bags of different sizes and weights, and so many things to consider...recycleable vs. compostable vs. matte colored (apparently matte colored packaging is neither recyclable or compostable).  What all this really boils down to though is image. What kind of image do I want?  Do I want the slick hipster- pictures of little birds on wires with pastel colors, the hippie - tons of multicolored mushrooms and bubbly font, the minimalist - brown card stock with black block lettering?  Even as I write this I feel a hint of unneeded vanity in my search.  We have this feeling that all these decisions just spring naturally, but the fact of the matter is that they are often arrived at through months of careful deliberation.  Not that its a bad process, its always fun to create something unique. Think about that next time you decide which chocolate to buy (high package design indeed). Think about why you choose a certain one, and why. Is it the taste, or the shiny package, that temps your fancy?  Think about the designers, sitting around a table at some cafe, macbooks at the ready, flicking though color templates, deciding which red is the right red for the 1/2 inch (or should it be 1/3 inch) border that surrounds the vermillion blue (or was aqua better) hand drawn (or at least made to look hand drawn) leaf logo.  There is so much that goes on in business behind the scenes. We all try our best to make it seem effortless, because people are attracted to this confidence, but its a lot of sweat to make anything new, although that's also what makes it fun and inspiring.   Making all these decisions, and knowing that each small success came your work.  It's exciting to think that you are putting something completely unique out into the world.  That what started as a random idea one night while lying in bed has blossomed into a concrete object in the world.  Something people think and talk about.  It's almost like having a child, but so much better, because you have all the freedom of design.  It's amazing really, to think that everything that exists in the world was at one point just an idea in someone's head. p.s. if anyone has any great ideas for forageSF logos etc.., I'm all ears.


Eat Real

[gallery columns="2"] My Eat Real marathon weekend of sea bean proselytizing is over.  It was great to get out and talk to people about what we're up to, and really exciting to see how into people are.  Foraging is often a lonely pursuit, and I get the feeling that people are often a bit confused about just what it is we're trying to do at forageSF, so getting face to face with people and answering questions about what we're about was great.  So great in fact that I'm going to start a push to get into some local farmers markets. It was originally my intention, but the focus moved a bit over the last year, and it got put on the back burner.  The problem with selling wild food in a certified market (meaning that everyone there is the primary producer) is that no one actually produces wild food.  We forage it, so we are as close to producers as any human gets, but not close enough.  It's a pretty funny situation to be in, what makes the food so interesting to me and to others is the exact reason it can't be sold.  I talked to a couple farmers market managers who seemed to think we could find some common ground, so I'm optimistic.  So look for us at your farmers market soon!


August CSF

boxpic This months box:

Dried Porcini and Morel Mushrooms (Mendocino/Humboldt Valley)

Dried Mushrooms, left to refresh in water for about 20 minutes, can be cooked just like fresh. It takes about 10 lbs of fresh wild mushrooms to make 1 lb dried.  Drying actually concentrates the flavor of many mushrooms, such as the bolete.  The Boletus edulis mushroom (bolete) was first described in 1783 by the French botanist Pierre Bulliard and still bears its original name. The Porcini, or King Bolete, is always an exciting find in California since they’re rare and delicious. Porcini are great sautéed with a little (or a lot) of butter.

Orange and Foraged Lemon Juice

Foraged in our own backyard, these lemons were rescued from certain rotting.  We got some fresh squeezed OJ and added foraged lemon juice to give it a good sour bite.

Sea beans (Bolinas)

Pickle weed is a small succulent, with leaves that are waxy on the outside and full of moisture on the inside. Its leaves are long, thin, and round, like little fingers. Pickleweed flowers between April and September, but its tiny yellow flowers can only be seen upon careful examination. Pickle weed grows in the low- to middle-tide zone in the marsh, which means that it gets covered up by water some of the time.  It’s delicious fresh as a garnish, or if you want to get creative in the early morning hours, check out the recipe below.

Wild Foraged Bay Leaves

The very same bay laurel leaves that you see (and smell) all over California, can be used in cooking. The aroma is a bit stronger than store bought, so use sparingly in your favorite soups.

Wild Foraged Blackberries

That’s right, collected just yesterday…they’re delicious.  We had to exercise some serious self control not to eat them all as we picked.  These blackberries come from Mendocino county.

Seabeans Sauteed with onions

This week we wanted to give you an idea of a good way to cook those seabeans you get so often in your box. Here they are, sautéed with some onions, garlic, pepper, and just a pinch of sugar to cut the saltiness. Hope you like them.

Wild Foraged Mint

Use this just like regular mint, the taste is a bit more intense with the wild variety.


Chp 1. Mushrooms

The first time I ever foraged wild mushrooms was up at my dad's house in Willow Creek CA.  I, perhaps much like you, had always understood in some peripheral way that wild mushrooms come from the woods.  They are called wild, and therefore not cultivated.  It follows that something that is not cultivated needs to be found, so someone must do the finding.  If asked, I would have given that reply. Who these unseen seekers were, where they did their seeking, who they did if for, how they learned, who they sold mushrooms to when found, were all a mystery.  In northern California, these questions are not so academic. Mushrooms are everywhere. Boletes, Black trumpets, Morel, Chanterelle, Yellow foot, Hedgehog (so named for their spiky underside), Matsutake, Snaggle tooth....that last ones a joke, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that as a local name for some under-appreciated fungus. The mushrooms I mentioned are only a fraction of what is bought for retail sale, and mushrooms for retail sale are only a fraction of edible fungus that's out in the woods.  There are many others that aren't available in stores.  Mycophobia (fear of mushrooms) runs deep in our culture, so people are not too keen to try a fungus that isn't already popular.  Although I for one disagree with much of the hype around mushroom danger (many more people die from eating eggs every year), there are mushrooms that shouldn't be eaten. The death cap is one such mushroom.  Small, white, unassuming, the death cap purportedly has a mild sweet taste (this from those that have eaten it and survived).  Eating half of one mushroom can kill you. TBC....


mt.tam and famous people

Headed up to mt.tam on new years eve for a bit of mushroom foraging. Not productive in that area unfortunately, seems we're in a bit of a lull at the moment, but should be popping soon with all our rains.  I also managed to pick up Joel Coen and Frances McDormand hitchhiking! I know, sounds unlikely, but its true.  Here's a couple pics to remind us why we all live here...  Also, a funny Edward Gorey drawing. Iso



forage forage

So foragesf had one of its first community forages saturday!  There were only three of us, Iso (me), Shelia Hernandez, and one new forager, Moe Beitiks, who's pictured below holding some fresh mushrooms. We went up to china camp, this great park in the north bay.  It used to be an old chinese shrimping village until they were forced out by racist laws in the 1800's, allowed to return, and are currently being forced out again by global warming.  Got the last bit of fact from this old chinese women who runs a store in the village.  A cool little place with about 3 budweisers and some instant coffee.  We were hoping to find a boatload (get it....shrimp....boat)[gallery] of chanterelles, but for some reason only found boletes and some yet unidentified fungus.  Seemed like someone had already been there, although we were pretty early.

I'm in the midst of planning a foragesf fundraiser. music, food, drinks, mostly wild, mostly homemade, with Asiya of Forage Oakland. Thinking 18 reasons, Bi-Rites new art space on Guerrero seems like a good spot, but need to go down and talk to them.  I'm still learning how to use this here internet machine website wordpress, so all the pics I've taken are rather haphazardly placed.  Until next time.


moe w/shrooms

p.s.  pics above include will Schrom, from a previous hunt.