Foraging is a buzz activity lately (in Melbourne) and foraging for wild mushrooms has increasingly become very popular. In the last two years the frequency of groups that are conducting wild mushroom hunts have increased significantly and so too have the number of cooking classes or special menus in restaurants and wineries; Mornington Peninsula in Victoria seems to be where wild mushrooms are found in large quantities.
Unfortunately for me, this may mean finding less wild mushrooms for myself, but over the years I have been extremely spoilt with the number of wild mushroom feasts I have had. During my latest foraging experience a couple of weeks ago my partner and I collected as much as we wanted of saffron coloured, pine mushrooms( photos above of the bag full and a small selection). We also could have collected slippery jacks but chose not to – we much prefer the taste and texture of the saffron coloured, pine mushrooms. If the slippery jacks are picked young and there has not been rain, they are firm and compact and very pleasant to eat.
| Photo = Slippery jacks
I was speaking to a friend who had attended a class on wild mushrooms recently and she showed me photos of two other edible fungi – unfortunately I am not familiar with these as I am always open to new tastes. Like many others who had tasted the slippery jacks, my friend was saying that she finds this variety rather mushy and slimy to eat. I used to collect the slippery jacks in South Australia and dried them (I moved to Melbourne about 10 years ago). This is very easily done: wipe them dry, cut them into slices, spread them out on wooden trays lined with paper and old tea towels and leave them to dry in a warm room. Turn them over a couple of times. They stored well and were certainly very edible; I used them as I would if they were dry porcini – not as strong in taste but certainly worth eating.
The only problem with collecting the saffron coloured, pine mushrooms is that they bruise very easily and they really need to be cleaned and cooked as soon as possible.
I turned this lot of saffron coloured, pine mushrooms into a pasta sauce (saffron coloured, pine mushrooms = First photo). If you do not collect your own you can buy them in The Queen Victoria Market at the Fresh Generation, for $40+ per kilo. I have also seen slippery jacks on the odd occasion at Gus and Carmel’s stall (61-63) .
500 g of mushrooms are sufficient for 500 g of pasta and in my household it is sufficient for 6 people as a (primo) first course
garlic, 2 -3 cloves
parsley, ½ cup finely chopped,
white wine,½ cup or dry marsala,
fresh bay leaves and some marjoram to taste
a good quality stock cube or about ½ cup of concentrated broth
grated nutmeg, a pinch
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste,
tomato paste, 1 tablespoon (optional)
cream or butter, ½ cup at the end of cooking
Parmesan cheese to grate on top
Clean the mushrooms, scrape away any bad bits or patches that are too discoloured. Strangely enough the discoloured patches do fade during cooking. Watch out for bugs that like to live in the stem. Slice each mushroom into thick strips.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil, add the mushrooms garlic and the herbs and sauté over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
Add wine, nutmeg, seasoning, stock or stock cube (dissolved in about ½ cup of hot water) and tomato paste (optional). Add more water or wine if the mixture looks too dry.
Cover and cook over low heat for about 5-7minutes. Add cream or butter at the very end to enrich the sauce.
Use this sauce as a dressing for cooked pasta. Add grated cheese at the table.