Some of my most vivid childhood memories, especially involving my Grandpa on the farm, include stomping about our fertile paddocks and collecting mushrooms at this time of year. In our rich soil and damp Autumn conditions they simply thrive – sprouting out of the ground in their hundreds often! My dad tipped us off that there was a good crop just near our house, down by the creek in the tussock swamp which has never been cultivated for potato growing. So off we stomped in our gumboots and basket in hand yesterday morning…
Paddock grown mushrooms are world’s apart from store bought – they’re very rich in flavour and pack quite the punch! And did you know you can freeze them? When we used to live in Murrindindi we collected literally hundreds of mushies off our green hills one year, and after a bit of googling I discovered I could freeze them, chopped up in batches. They’re not quite the same once defrosted, but are perfect to throw in pies or pasta sauces or a beef stroganoff. We had a lot of chicken, leek and mushroom pies that year!
Mushroom foraging can have a bit of a suspect reputation, with good reason – you really don’t want to be picking the wrong thing! Our friends Mich and Dave run mushroom forage workshops through their gorgeous String + Salt in Warragul, sounds like a great Autumn weekend activity to learn your saffron caps from your death caps.
Eleanor quickly got the hang of what we were doing, running about in search of mushrooms popping out of the soil, her funny little exclamations “Ooooooo!” Most of them got ripped apart and squashed in the process, but that’s ok, and a whole lot got devoured on the spot! She loves raw mushrooms, and will have one a day for lunch. I’m not such a raw mushroom fan but we eat a lot of mushrooms in this house, making our ready Autumn supply very welcome. Our standard grocery list always reads: milk, bread, mushrooms… I love getting to share my own childhood memories with Eleanor, making them her own and watching her delight in very simple things like collecting her favourite sticks along the creek. She told me in no uncertain terms (in her multitude of grunting, wild gestures and snapping hands) that there is a crocodile living in the creek – goodness!
Do you pick your own mushrooms in Autumn?
Got a favourite mushie recipe?
Did you know you could freeze them? Game changer.
Watch out for those crocodiles in South Gippy waterways…