The 2015 autumn mushroom season is well underway now, with choice chanterelles, porcini, saffron milk caps, chicken of the woods and many other things being found over much of the country. Things in Wiltshire and parts of the south /south west have kicked off pretty early due to the unusually cool and damp summer that we have been having, and if we receive sufficient rain as autumn progresses we could be in for a long mushroom season! It’s a great time to dust off that wicker basket, grab a small kitchen knife and get out there in the woods and fields to do some mushroom hunting
… as I write this I am tucking into a sumptuous omelette of forest mushrooms and preparing this year’s batch of amethyst deceiver vodka (a Russian speciality) after spending much of the past 3 days hunting for and eating gourmet mushrooms.
We have some great courses for you this autumn including the Secret Sunday Mushroom Club (recommended by BBC Countryfile Magazine as a way to learn to pick mushrooms safely) and our extremely popular Gourmet Mushroom Discovery Days with foraging and mushroom tasting that will delight chefs and foragers alike. We are hosting the UK’s first 2 day Medicinal Mushroom Conference in November where some well known authors, foragers, mushroom growers and herbalists (Roger Philips, Matthew Rooney, Fred Gillam, Cristina Cromer) will team up to raise awareness among health care practitioners and the general public about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms. After a short pause to take stock over the middle of winter, we will start 2016 with our Small Game Preparation course and the very popular St. George’s Mushroom Champagne Picnic in early May. We’ve got things happening in Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Somerset, The New Forest and the Gower in South Wales, as well as leading foraging team building events throughout the autumn – so you are keeping us on our toes!
We’ve just heard that Vegetarian Living Magazine will be running a feature on mushroom foraging this coming October entitled ‘On The Toadstool Trail’ featuring exclusive hints and tips from our very own Fred the Forager (who brings 32 years of mushroom foraging experience to your table), so do look out for that… or you can get an exclusive member’s preview… here
Starting in mid September – The Secret Sunday Mushroom Club: 18.5 hours of tuition spread over 4 non-consecutive Sundays and over several excellent habitats. Watch the occurrence of mushrooms change as the season progresses and see them at all stages of growth. Includes a guest ticket for one day and 12 months email support with identification. Locations are given out a few days before each meeting to allow time for reconnaissance, ensuring the best chances of success! Click the link for info and dates. Cost: £145.00. Gift vouchersGift Certificates also available.
Available from September through November – Gourmet Mushroom Discovery Days: A day out in the woods encountering choice edible species and some of the most significant poisonous ones. Get to know your death caps, destroying angels, fool’s funnels and deadly webcaps before learning to find the choice species such as ceps, chanterelles, blewits, bay boletes and more, then enjoy your finds with speciality breads and a glass or two of wine in the woods. Click the link for info and dates. Cost £90.00. Gift vouchers also available.
November 14th and 15th – The UK’s First Medicinal Mushrooms Conference: A full weekend discovering the healing potential of medicinal mushrooms, including guided foraging, talks, presentations and demonstrations by Roger Philips (author of “Mushrooms”), Matthew Rooney (the UK’s only bio-dynamic medicinal mushroom cultivator at www.mushroomtable.com), Fred Gillam (Fred the Forager and author of “Poisonous Plants in Great Britain”), Martin Palmer author of “Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide”), Cristina Cromer (Medical Herbalist and former lecturer in herbal medicine at the University of Westminster) and Natascha Kenyon (forager and concocter of medicinal potions at The Wild Side of Life). Prices vary on a sliding scale – see conference web page.
Saturday March 12th – Small Game Preparation: This one day course will take you through all of the basic skills and knowledge required to prepare small game such as rabbits, pheasant or wood pigeon in the field for food. Not for gratuitous hunters or those who see hunting as sport, this course is designed to equip those who choose to eat meat from the wild with the necessary skills to do so with as little waste as possible, and teach relevant knowledge about hygiene, knife skills, game, roadkill and the law. Cost £85.00. Gift vouchers available.
Starting in April – The Secret Sunday Spring Forager’s Club: 18 hours of tuition spread over 4 non-consecutive Sundays and over several excellent habitats including ancient woodland, chalk grassland and river meadows. Learn to identify, gather and use a wide range of spring foraged ingredients including wonderous wild garlic, tasty burdock shoots, tender hogweed fiddles, crunchy pignuts, citrussy pine candles and more. You will also learn how to avoid Europe’s most poisonous plants. Click the link for info and dates. Cost: £130.00. Gift vouchers available.
Saturday 7th or Sunday 15th May – St. George’s Mushroom Champagne Picnic: The weather should be warming up now and there is nothing nicer than a champagne picnic in the spring sunshine. You will be taught how to seek the delicious St. George’s mushroom effectively, how to identify it beyond any doubt and how to combine it with other spring wild food ingredients to the greatest effect.We will enjoy a foraged dish of super St. George’s and wild herbs in the afternoon along with some glasses of bubbly and sample a range of other sumptuous wild food treats. Cost £85.00.
Don’t forget our gift vouchers make a wonderful surprise gift for anyone, whether it is for Christmas, someone’s birthday or just for the joy of giving something special to someone you love. I hope to see you all out in a wood or meadow sometime over the coming season, or perhaps next spring picking St. George’s mushrooms. Until then, have a truly wonderful mushroom season, may it be both bountiful and fascinating!
Fred the Forager / The Wild Side of Life