Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mushroom foraging for saffron milkcaps in State Forests with Diego Bonetto

We spent a lovely Autumn day foraging for wild mushrooms today on tour with Diego Bonetto.
Diego comes from Torino, Italy and a tradition of foraging for wild food, a tradition he is happy to share. Which is fabulous as my family has no tradition of foraging. Anglo-Celtic Australians such as myself have been taught to fear mushrooms and other wild foods. Caution is certainly warranted. We found maybe 20 different types of mushrooms today that Diego could not name. But he was able to teach us about one wonderful wild mushroom that is not just edible: its divine.

Introducing the saffron milk cap.

This large, distinctly orange mushroom was the object of our attentions today.  Also known as a pine mushroom this milkcap grows in a symbiotic relationship with the pine trees. This is not a mushroom that can be cultivated at home. Wild foraging is the only way to collect them.

These mushrooms are highly prized across Europe and the forest was full of people out picking today. The weather has been wet consistently across the past month and its early Autumn so picking season is upon us.

The bus tour set off from Sydney early this morning and got to one of the Southern Highlands State Forests about 9am. Mushroom foraging in State Pine Forests in allowed as a free, help yourself activity. Here is a link to the Forestry NSW guide. Diego explained mushrooming and the joys and responsibilities of foraging. We visited three different sites and today the last was the best.

This is the haul we collected. Everyone went home with a big stash.

After collecting mushrooms for a while Diego cooked up a storm for us on a bar-be-que plate: Olive oil, garlic, rosemary and sliced saffron milkcaps. The mushrooms are firm and so very tasty. The best mushrooms I have ever tasted. Truly.

I can't wait to head back out to forage for more.  I will have to be careful to not over indulge. I'd hate to get sick of them. But they will only be at my disposal for a few months.  

I can highly recommend you join a tour and learn more about this great delight and go collect your own.

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