Wild Oyster Mushroom Soup
The spring rains have finally come. And while there hasn't been enough moisture to bring about the fungi-explosion that my heart desires, the oyster mushrooms have flushed well. I can hardly complain about the nearly 14 pounds of oyster mushrooms that are now filling my refrigerator.
In the middle of the rain last weekend, I get a text from my friend Lacy at Laughing Lemon Pie, mushrooms!!!! Despite the storm, she had managed to spot an old cottonwood stump next to the road that was piled high with mushrooms. She had pulled her car off the road, putting on her hazards, and dashed out to take a picture.
My buddy is a natural forager and is a quick study. It was several months ago when I first pointed type of dead log to look for oyster mushrooms. When she took me to the stump she had spotted next to the road, I was able to confirm that they were indeed oyster mushrooms. It was a proud moment for me, and seeing the look on her face as she held up her prize of nearly seven pounds of mushrooms was priceless.
As is always the case with wild mushrooms, I didn't want Lacy take my word on the ID. I wanted her to do the research, and feel certain in her own mind that she was about to ingest an edible mushroom. She cross referenced several book and internet sources to confirm the identification. I also encouraged her to cook and eat just one small mushroom, leaving the rest in the refrigerator, just to make certain that it agreed with her body, before eating them as a meal.
If you have a bumper crop of oyster mushrooms, it is easy to preserve them by drying. First, clean them as well as possible, using a brush and toothpick. Next, slice the oyster mushrooms into 1/2" slices. If you live in an arid environment like I do, it will only take them a few days to dry out on an old screen, or atop flat baskets. If you live in a more humid place, you may need to use a dehydrator. Either way, make certain your oyster mushroom slices are completely dried, to the point of being crispy, before storing them in mason jars. Otherwise, they will end up rotting.
Here are some links about identifying oyster mushrooms. Colorado Oyster Mushrooms. Oyster mushroom identification at Mushroom Appreciation.
Wild Oyster Mushroom Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 - 1.5 lbs oyster mushrooms, sliced into bite-sized pieces
dried herb of choice (I like my Monarda fistulosa)
3 Tbsp. sorghum flour (or wheat flour, if you prefer it)
6 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1. In a large pot, melt a good knob of butter, then saute up the onions and mushrooms over medium heat until they are tender and begin to take on bits of brown.
2. Stir a few big pinches of salt and your dried herbs into the onions and mushrooms.
3. Reduce heat to medium low, stir in the flour, and continue stirring for two minutes.
4. Add the milk to the pot, and give the everything a few big stirs. Let the soup cook over low heat for at least 15 minutes, or until it is bubbling and thickened, and the flavor of the mushrooms permeates the broth.
5. Stir in the sherry vinegar and make certain the soup is salty enough before serving.