2017 Harvest

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Edible mushrooms part 2

                                                    Hydnum repandum
                                  Sweet tooth, wood hedgehog, prosenjak

One of the very popular and easily recognized mushrooms is Sweet tooth mushroom.
Hydnum repandum is a mushroom that grows in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.
It can't be mistaken for any poisonous mushrooms because of it's specific look.

What does Hydnum repandum look like?
This mushrooms grows in groups, scattered or in fairy rings. It has irregular shaped caps that variate from pale yellow to orange.

Caps are usually smooth and dry. Small and young mushrooms can be round but big mushrooms are always irregular. 
Hydnum repandums meat turns slightly orange color. 
What makes this mushroom special are spines under the cap. This spines are the reason why it's also called wood hedgehog.
Spines are from 3-10cm long depending of the size of mushroom and they easily peal off.

How to eat and prepare it?
Sweet tooth has a sweet nutty flavor. It is considered to be a good mushroom that stays firm after cooking.
Before storing the mushroom brush the cap and scrape off the spines. Cook them in boiling water before storing them.
The best way to store them is marinate them in vinegar or oil.

Can it be mistaken for other toxic mushrooms?

Hydnum repandum can't be mistaken for toxic mushrooms. It can be mistaken for other Hydnum varieties but all of them are edible and have very good quality.
Mushrooms can be mistaken for Boletus when looking at them from far away but after turning the mushrooms spines are very noticeable.

                                             Craterellus cornucopioides
                               (horn of plenty, black trumpet, crna trubica)

Craterellus cornucopioides is and edible mushroom recognized for it's characteristic black color and trumpet shape. It can't be mistaken for any toxic mushrooms.
It grows in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, usually in oak woods. In some countries it is considered a delicacy almost the same value as truffles.

What does Craterellus cornucopioides look like?
Some people say that when hunting for trumpet mushrooms is like searching for black holes in the woods. For their specific color they are hard to spot but since they grow in colonies. Because of it there can be found hundreds of mushrooms in only one place.

 Mushrooms looks like a small trumpet with curved edge that is slightly thinner than the rest of the mushroom. Trumpet doesn't have a real stipe. It's actually extended cap. It's color is very specific, dark gray to black with slightly lighter hymenium.

How to eat and prepare it?
This small mushroom is highly valuated between mushroom lovers. between people sometimes it's called "truffles for poor people". Since it grows in big colonies the best way to store this plant is drying it to keep it from occupying too much room in the freezer.

Before cooking them just soak the mushrooms in water for 5-6 hours. Mushrooms can also be crushed and the powder can be used to add favor to soups and sauces.

Can it be mistaken for toxic mushrooms?
Black trumpet can't be mistaken for any toxic plants. Their specific color and shape distinguish them from any other mushroom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Edible mushrooms part 1

September is mushroom collecting month. It is possible to find edible mushrooms in summer too, but most of the forests in my area wake up in late spring and early autumn. This year with help of enormous amounts of rain in September, that have already overpassed normal monthly values, mushrooms have started growing earlier than usual.

Mushrooms are a delicacy that can improve almost every meal or bring ecstasy to our taste buds as a special course.
Not all mushrooms are edible, there are many poisons ones, some are even deadly. So before starting mushroom collecting a collector should know how to identify edible mushrooms.
This mushroom identification aid I'm starting with two mushroom varieties. One of the most popular mushrooms and one of my favorite varieties.

                                                       Amanita caesarea
                                           (Caesar's mushroom, Ovolo buono, Blagva)

Amanita caesarea is a delicious highly mushroom. I's native to South Europe and North Africa but can be found in any oak wood in the world. Because of it's delicious meat, the fact that is never rotten and it causes no stomach discomforts even to the people with very sensitive stomach, this mushroom has become very rare in many countries.
Here in Croatia Amanita caesarea is protected by law. It's can't be bought on the market. Large scale collecting is forbidden. It can be collected for personal use only, but only in private woods and only if you collect 1/3 of the amount of mushrooms in that woods. So if the area contains 3 Amanita mushrooms you may collect one.

Amanita caesarea is a part of Amanita genus. Because of it's similarity to other toxic varieties unskilled mushroom collectors and hikers destroy it even though it's one of the mostly appreciated mushrooms in the world.

What does Amanita caesarea look like?
Amanita caesarea is a very easy to spot mushroom even when it's still small. It's orange-red cap is visible even while the mushroom is very small.

Like all Amanita mushrooms it grows out of an white egg that later opens and lets out a beautiful cap and yellow stipe.

Gills are also pale yellow.

Surface of this mushroom is very smooth, when it's raining even a bit slimy.

How to eat and prepare it?
This is one of the rare mushrooms that can be eaten completely raw. It can also be cooked, fried, used as mushroom topping on pizza(delicious!) and dried. If you want to store it in freezer, just cut it in pieces and place in a small bag. There is no need to cook it before saving them. It's delicious meat will never be firm or too dry.

Can it be mistaken for toxic mushrooms?
Amanita caesarea can be mistaken for toxic mushrooms by inexperienced collectors. It's very simmilar to other Amanita variety called Amanita muscaria (Fly agaric). But the main difference is that Amanita caesarea never has white scales on it's cap. It is always smooth and it's color is always more orange than red.

                                                             Macrolepiota procera
                                                    (Parasol mushroom, sunčanica)

When do you know that mushroom season has started? When people start walking out of the woods with small white umbrellas in their hands. :)

Macrolepiota procera is a huge, and I mean huge mushroom very popular in Europe. It grows in woods on sunny hills(always covered with leaves) as a solitary or in a fairy rings.
It's very easy to spot it in the woods, it's visible even from distance of 10-15 meters. It's stipe can reach high of 50cm and large cap can be 40cm in diameter.

Cap is white with brownish tone, covered in brown or cream scales that can be easily pealed off. If you brush a mushroom on your clothes it will leave small scales all over you.

Stipe is brown and hollow, when you break it it looks like a small tube.
Parasol mushroom always has a ring located close to the cap. If you gently move it it will slide down the stipe.

When you turn the cap this mushrooms has big gills that are white but when you pass your finger over them you'll notice that they have pinkish tone between the gills. Parasol mushroom never has snow white gills.

When it's still small mushrooms cape looks like and egg, ring is till attached and it slowly slides down after the mushroom opens.

How to eat and prepare it?
Macrolepiota procera can't be eaten raw, it needs to be cooked first. The most common way of eating it is deep frying it after rolling it in eggs and breadcrumbs. It can also be used to improve the taste of sauces or used instead of dough for pizza. Just place your  toppings on top of the mushroom and bake.
Parasol mushroom can be dried  for storing, or frozen(no need to cook it before). Because of it's delicate meat it's not good when stored in oil or vinegar as pickled mushroom.

Can it be mistaken for toxic mushrooms?
Well I would love to say no but people still mistake them.
People in North America should be careful not to mistake it for Chlorophyllum molybdites.  Here in Europe this mushroom doesn't exist.
Some people mistake Parasol mushrooms for Amanita pantherina.
The best was to avoid mistakes is to collect only fully open Parasol mushrooms, and collect them in woods. Not on meadows.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fruit harvest

After busy Monday I decided to use sunny day on Tuesday to collect our apples and quinces. Apples started falling down because of all this rain we are having.
This year we had a decent harvest.

Idared apples were the most affected with all the rain and cold weather. they have spots and are falling before ripening.

I haven't harvested all our quinces. I just got 1/3 of all fruits. The rest can still stay on the tree. Every year we have massive quince harvest. They seem to like our orchard. Every year there are so many fruits that branches often burst under the weight of fruits.

I can't be sure how many kilos of fruits I got but they will be all used. Some of them will be for juice, some for jam and smallest ones will be food for my bunnies.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tomatoes bye bye!

First sunny day after weeks of rain I used to remove my tomatoes. 
This year has been very bad for our tomato harvest. Out of 160 seedlings we got only 40 kilos of tomatoes. 40 kilos doesn't sound so bad, but when you compare it to last years 100 kilos it's really bad harvest. Blight ate all my plants so I decided to pull out all of my plants and poles to prepare my beds for deep digging.

Tomato pulling is one of the garden jobs I hate the most. The only worse thing is deep digging. It's a whole day job. First I have to remove all my ribbons and variety name markers. I'll examine all my ribbons, remove all bad ones and wash them. Markers will also be washed and recycled next year.

After removing all ribbons it's tomato pulling turn. The best way to get rid of sick tomato plants is burning them like Dewberry from Slavic garden did.

But when you live surrounded with forest it's not wise to burn open fire. Also in our country it's forbidden to burn weeds in period from June 1st till October 31st. That is why I dispose my sick plants in one of my compost pits.

I have 3 compost pits, one contains rabbit manure and easy rotting vegetables. Manure is used every year for my seedlings. Another pit contains hard rotting vegetables and weeds. This pit is cleaned every 5 years and I get clean soil that is used for flower planting. Third pit is located far from my garden, inside our woods. Here we dispose sick plants and branches that were removed during spring tree pruning. This pit is emptied every 10-15 years. Here we get quality forest soil. It takes long to get it but it's worth it.
My tomatoes ended in my third pit. Since it's far away I had to transport my plants in sheet.

After removing the plants comes the most tricky part. Carrying poles back home. I hate it, I hate it, I really hate it. The soil is very wet and slippery, my garden is steep and this poles are heavy and clumsy. Not to mention that because of all the rain mosquitoes are the size of elephants and very aggressive.
I have divided my pole trip in two stages.
First I carry all of them up the garden and through the small garden gate.

There I've made a small pole pit stop.

Not for the poles but for me. I can carry only 15 poles at once so I have to go up and down at least 5 times. It gets exhausting so I never carry them the whole way.
I still have one ascent before taking all my poles into our workshed. Nero is really mad because he can't be in the garden with me so he sits on the balcony watching me until I open garden doors. Then he rushes down the path to greet me. His greetings can be very dangerous, especially when you are barely standing and he comes to hug you and give you kisses.

I got all my poles to the shed and here they will dry, then I'll sand off all the dirt and paint them with Whitewash for disinfecting. 

After removing all my tomatoes and most of my Borlotti beans my garden looks very empty.

I still have some carrots, peppers, lettuce and beans inside. Beans are still growing and blooming so I've harvested 2 kilos.

If my tomato harvest was bad at least we'll have enough beans stored for the winter.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Where's Nero?

Rainy days are affecting Nero too. He misses our daily long walks.  That is why he was very excited even when the rain stopped for 5 minutes.

These past few weeks we spent most of our walks in the woods. Late August and September are mushroom picking months.
Nero likes our walks, he likes discovering new places, going up and down the hills, jumping over the creeks. His bad eyesight doesn't affect his playfulness. Yes, he trips over fallen logs and falls a few times but it doesn't seem to bother him too much.

Our walks start on a very steep hill where he always walks by my side. I don't like keeping him on the leash but here it's absolutely necessary.  We had few occasions where he would fall down if I wasn't there to prevent it.

After we get down to the valley he is free. Most of the times he is just few meters from me sniffing deer traces.

Or he goes swimming in the creek.

Creek is filled with water so he enjoys running up and down the water.

Nero is very obedient dog. Usually when we take normal walks I talk to him. Yes it's crazy but that's what we crazy dog owners do. "Come to the left Nero", "Where should we go next?" , "Do you want to wash your feet Nero?". And he seems to understand me, I managed to teach him left and right side.  It facilitates our walks. Usually when I wanted to turn the other way I had to walk there and then call him to come. Now I just tell him which side to go to and he turns himself. But all my commands fail when I start searching for mushrooms. He hates it. I'm too slow and he protests. First he starts walking away from me trying to get my attention.

Are you coming or not?
He doesn't like being too far from me so he gives me another chance and sits on the path waiting for me.

Will you stop taking photos? Come on, walk!
That's it, I'm out of here.
 He just leaves me and then the game "Where's Nero" begins. I look for him, I call him but he doesn't care. He hides from me. The funniest thing is that he is always close, he just hides behind trees and thinks I can't spot him.

Between two trees.
Big black dot in the middle of photo.
Can you find me?
How about now :)
Bet you can't see me now :)
 And this game continues all the way home. Every time I stop to take a photo or pick a mushroom he runs and hides. Then I start yelling "Where's Nero", he stands without moving. I look around acting that I don't see him, after few seconds I yell "there you are", he looks at me wiggles his tail and runs away.

Although he doesn't like me paying attention to anything but him he seems to like this game. So we play it every single time.

She'll just never learn :)

More on mushrooms in part 2 :)