Forage for Food Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,892 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,416 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Forage for Food Expert Level Merit Badge, I begged, cajoled, pleaded, beseeched, and otherwise nagged my good friend at the Department of Fish and Game to accompany me on my first annual Wild ‘Shroom Hunt. Dear, sweet Helen is pretty much my bestie. Okay, okay, we only met that one time last summer when I bought my fishing license, but I know we hit it off. I could feel the connection. I’m fairly certain she felt the same way, because she was way friendly and told me to have a nice day. So, yeah. Besties.

Anyway, Helen was leery at first—amazingly, she’s not much of a mushroom eater—s face it, girls, I cannot be trusted in the wild alone. I mean, there are lots of dramatic ways I want to go out when I meet my maker, so to speak, but poisoning myself with a mushroom omelet is not high on my list. Know what I mean, string bean?

So Helen finally agreed to spend the afternoon with me, as long as I brought along some of my famous homemade granola snacks and some organic lemonade. So off we went, we two intrepid foragers, into the forests of the Pacific Northwest. I accidently left the granola in the car, so to keep Helen’s plummeting spirits up, I made sure to sing lots of camp songs as we hiked. Two hours and a few mushrooms later, Helen told me that not only was my singing attracting Sasquatches, but it was also scaring away all the fungi. Who knew? So, hard as it was, I concentrated less on my crooning and more on the ground in front of me. At the end of our hike, we had some delicious finds:

  • Apricot Jelly Mushrooms (How cute is that name? So in love right now.)

Photo by H. Krisp via Wikimedia Commons

  • Bear’s Head Mushroom (Less cute name, but gorgeous ‘shroom.)

Photo by Martin Hlauka (Pescan) via Wikimedia Commons

  • Blue Chanterelles (I kinda thought they were purple pansies at first, I admit.)

Photo by Noah Siegel via Wikimedia Commons

  • Chicken of the Woods (No chickens were harmed in the making of this mushroom—haha!)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

  • Western Giant Puffball (Was this one named by a toddler?)

Photo by Jerry Friedman via Wikimedia Commons

  • Scaly Hedgehog (Really does look a bit like a hedgehog!)

Photo by H. Krisp via Wikimedia Commons

  • Slimy Spike Cap (Seriously slimy. In the interest of full disclosure, I may or may not actually eat this one.)

Photo by Bernd Haynold via Wikimedia Commons

  • Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet (So adorable! Like parasols for fairies.)

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

  • Ink Caps (Helen says these cause an allergic reaction when consumed with alcohol, so I won’t be doing any wine pairing with these! So glad I have my bestie.)

Photo by James Lindsey via Wikimedia Commons

  • Oyster Mushroom (Only when found on trees. If you think you see some on a dead log, stay away! It’s the poisonous Angel Wing Mushroom masquerading as an Oyster Mushroom. Imposter!)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

  • Horn of Plenty (A pretty lilac and grey colored ‘shroom.)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

I also think I found some Sasquatch tracks. But that’s a risk you have to take when foraging, I guess. ‘Shrooms and ‘Squatches. Sounds like a tasty restaurant.

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Beautiful photos of species I have never seen in our woods. Mushrooms fascinate me and once I did a huge collection project for a biology class. When you actually go looking, it is surprising what you find. The shapes, the colors, the beauty! I do think I would be very reluctant to actually eat anything just in case I had mistaken an edible for a poisonous variety!

  2. Karlyne says:

    Me, too, Winnie! I’ve eaten morels (morells?) before because I have friends who are mushroom foragers from way back, but that’s as adventurous as I’ve ever gotten!

  3. Robin Ayers says:

    Great pictures. Thanks for the info and watch out for the Sasquatch!

  4. Wonderful photos but beware! I would not eat any wild mushroom ever since my childhood friend’s father who was a botantist and mycologist ( mushroom expert) died from eating wild mushrooms! If he can’t tell how can we? Sorry to be such a spoilsport but this is a very dangerous hobby for the uninitiated !

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