Archive | December, 2014

Golden trees and Sunchokes

26 Dec

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It was warm and wet the last few days so there was a small chance of some oyster mushrooms in a local sugar maple woods, but after a short look I was satisfied to move on, especially while seeing the early morning sun color these sturdy maples golden.

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Interesting to walk into a familiar place which suddenly looks so new, never suspected this was a golden forest during a certain sun.

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Back home it seemed a good time to unearth some Sunchoke tubers which is the variety I found in the early 90s from a vacant lot in a small town I was working in then, these ones have been in my indicator garden wherever I’m living ever since.  That town was bordering a large fresh water marsh and I was finding many different types of Sunchokes in that area, most varieties grow between 6 to 9 feet tall and flower in the fall, there was one large tan colored tuber variety growing out in the marsh on heavy clay which had a stem only 3 feet high and blown even lower in the grass by the strong marsh winds, I should go back and gather that one some day to try in the garden. In the marsh they were extremely hard to dig in the compact clay though they were large tubered and smooth skinned and may grow the same in more workable soils?

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Here is a closer look at these healthy tubers which people in the eastern part of Canada can harvest anytime during the winter that the ground isn’t frozen. This as many of you know is the one tuber bearing member of the Sunflower family Heliantus tuberosus, while the wild smaller tuber type is quite common on river floodplains and is native to North America, some of the other larger varieties like the ones in the photos which you will encounter at abandon farms, vacant lots and disturbed soils are possibly types developed in both Europe and NA. These ones in the photos I’ve moved to a few different areas as well, mostly places I know I may pass by in the fall to spring months, they don’t spread much and if I don’t harvest them the local voles or other rodents will have some good eating, I’ll try something different and lacto ferment a few of these ones I’ve collected today. ciao

Mid-December meltdown

16 Dec

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It took over 100 mm of rain, but now most forest areas in my neck of the woods are soggy and snow free. There are a few edible mushrooms I’ve gathered this late in the year before, being mostly oyster types and Hygrophorus mushrooms, but none of those around today.

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I’ve heard that the Tree-ear mushrooms may appear anytime there is a good amount of rain so I revisited an area I found this summer and yes here they are on the same downed balsam fir trees from earlier in the year.

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These are Auricularia americana which are a new edible to me and I have only tried them a few ways so far, usually these mushrooms are always cut into thin strips, stewed slowly in milk they were quite good. These mushroom dry and reconstitute very well and some of its relatives are commercially grown in large numbers for use as an edible and medicinal mushroom. Auricularia americana probably does not possess the same blood thinning properties as Auricularia polytricha used in Szechwan cooking and is considered more akin to Auricularia auricularia used in Cantonese cooking. These mushrooms absorb other flavours and their crunchy texture is very appealing.

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Here is a nicely covered conifer tree from this summer which I should have marked down its location. It would have been a nice place to look today.

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Now this is a common mushroom found on conifers from late fall through the winter, Orange Jelly mushroom (Darcymyces chrysospermus).

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These are a colorful edible which I’ll be tinkering with in the kitchen this winter. Anyone have any suggestions?

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I know he doesn’t look to awe inspiring in the photo, but this is a large hawk who let me walk within 40 feet to take a phone pic on the way back to town. Click the photo to enlarge and check out the tree branches along the way. ciao

They Rose above the snow

1 Dec

20141130_135905 Dropped by here today actually looking for another member of the rose family which has fruit that grows on a tree and is off to the right and out of the picture, since the wind has knocked their fruit off and they are under the snow, I will instead gather a few nutritious rose fruits from some small wild roses and also these dark berried aronia fruit. 20141130_14193220141130_141951 These small rose hips which usually stay on their stems well into the spring are quite and interesting fruit as once they are dried and powdered they taste and smell a bit like sun dried tomatoes. 20141130_13544920141130_15185420141130_152512 The Aronia berries today feel like sultana raisins so I will simply dry them a little more and powder them as well. The last few decades both these fruits have been plentiful on their plants throughout the winter and following spring, though I can’t predict if any creatures may need these fruits if this is a tough one so this early in I’m only gathering a few for now. ciao