**Disclaimer:Before eating any wild mushroom (or any new foraged item) check guides, spore print on species with look-a-likes, and be 100% certain of what you are eating. If you are at all unsure, do not eat it. As with any new food, be on the look-out for allergic reactions. Try a small amount the first time through. Allergic reactions can happen, even if something is known to be edible.**
It was a cool and cloudy afternoon when my friend Bob, his oldest daughter and I set off deep into the forest in search of the elusive amber jelly roll mushroom (Exida recisa). Armed with field guides, we began our search.
Okay, okay – so maybe it was more Bob’s yard at the homestead than a forest, and maybe it only took us a few minutes to wander over by an old oak tree in his yard, but you get the idea.
At first glance, the amber jelly roll does look like something you’d want to eat, but this species is edible, like many of the jelly mushrooms. You’ll often find other jelly mushrooms used in Asian cuisine (think soups). Neither Bob or I had tried eating this odd-looking mushroom before, but that was changing today. We gathered a few handfuls of fungi and carried them back to the house. We soaked them in water and rinsed them clean to remove any bugs or debris. We tasted the fresh mushroom. It was less than exciting – rather bland with a texture on the rubbery side.
We sautéed the mushrooms for about 15 minutes, with some Asian inspired flavors, and we decided to add them to the venison meatballs with homemade sauce and noodles Bob was making for dinner. The blandness of the mushroom worked in its favor, and absorbed the flavors we sautéed them in. The mushroom still retained some of its rubbery texture.
I was really indifferent to the mushrooms raw flavor; though it did hold the added flavors we cooked them in. I really didn’t care much for the texture of the mushroom, but would likely give it another try the future, may be added to a soup or broth which might allow the texture to be less rubbery.
The past few days have been cold and frigid in PA, today warmed up to 50 so I made the most of it and took a hike. While I was out I came across some rose hips. Rose hips can be eaten raw, but we dry them to use in our teas and Kombucha. The best time to harvest rose hips is in the cooler months after the first frost where they become soft and sweet.
The Multi-flora Rose is a common invasive species originating from to Japan and China, and can be found abundantly in our area. The rose hips of the Multi-flora Rose are small, unlike some cultivated varieties. I do recommend using gloves if you plan to gather rose hips.
To air dry rose hips, I give them a rinse with warm water, pat dry, and de-stem. To de-stem I found that using a pair of scissors works great to speed up this process. Then I spread them out on cardboard paper, and let them sit for a few weeks give them a turn every few days until they are completely dry. A quicker way is to use a dehydrator or the oven or toaster oven. Since I do not have a dehydrator I use my over to help with the drying process. To start I rinse and de-stem the rose hips. Next I cover my toaster over tray with aluminum foil, add the rose hips to the tray, and place it in the oven. Set the oven to the lowest temperature, and set the timer to 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes rotate the rose hips, and reset the timer for another 10 minutes. Continue to do this for at least an hour or longer depending on the size of your rose hips. Keep checking to make sure that you do not burn your rose hips.
When your rose hips have dried you can store them in a glass jar or a brown paper bag away from sunlight.