Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

39 thoughts on “Looking for wild things in the wild

    1. Thanks, Irene! I was learning about mushrooms since the age of 3, that makes it I have been picking wild mushrooms for 56 years, well, with interruptions, because I don’t do that in Canada. Everybody or almost everybody who loves outdoors and forests knows what mushrooms are good and what are poisonous. Kids start really early, so, no problem with that. Dear Irene, there is absolutely no comparison in taste between the store bought and the wild ones. We made the other day a soup from king boletes and that was sooooo delicious that I don’t know how to describe that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe you, that the wild once are much more tasteful Inese. I just have so much respect to pick the wrong once, that I don’t try at all. It was also more easy to pick, while I lived in Denmark. Here in Spain it is too dry for them to live, at least where I live.

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  1. Hi Inese! I’m so hungry now seeing these beauties. Part of my youth was spent picking mushrooms with my Oma und Opa in Austria. Such fond memories of inhaling the scent of pines and musty earth. Sounds and LOOKS like you had a great time there. Safe travels home!!

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      1. Foraging makes you feel one with the nature. My grandma taught me to leave the first good mushroom and to drop the first biggest and sweetest berry for the forest 🙂 I always do that since.

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      2. I do not really follow any rules. I get to pick mushrooms at the best once in a year, and sometimes it can be once in 5 years. I am trying to photograph some standing on one leg or balancing myself between ditches or fallen branches, LOL. It’s been my passion since I was just 3 years old, we had forest in 5 minute walking distance. So, I’ve been doing this for 56 years. People ask: how do you know which mushrooms are good? I do that easy. All mushrooms have specific features, whether that is color, shape, pattern on stem or cap, smell and in some cases one can even try tiny bit because king boletes are sweet and taste slightly like nuts when uncooked, but the bitter relative (which still has very much darker stem) is just abnormally bitter. so on. Golden chanterelle has a relative that is not edible and this is recognized by pattern under the cap. I love taste of wild berries, but I do not love too much sitting in one place and slowly picking them. Wild mushrooms is like discovery every time when one uses their skill to detect what places in that forest would have mushrooms, and then one needs to be really attentive and careful to find where they are hiding. It’s a pleasure!

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  2. theburningheart

    Well. one more tradition that got lost by the huge commercialization drive of our modern societies, now days it’s even dangerous, since almost nobody in the city can tell a poisonous mushroom, from an edible one, I even got poisoned once, because a friend of mine who supposedly knew about them picked some, on New years day, some thirty years or so, luckily as I took the first bite, I knew there was something wrong with them, and told them to stop eating them, one of my friends ended at the hospital, and we all suffered terribly for days!

    It took me several years to try mushrooms again, since just to look at them nauseated me!
    But I love mushrooms and eat them frequently, hope you get a good laugh at this one! 🙂

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    1. It takes experience. I only pick mushrooms in Latvia because these mushrooms I know 100%. It is actually quite easy to distinct between poisonous and edible ones. I was probably only 3 years old when I first went to the forest with my parents to pick mushrooms. It is my passion and I love so much walking around these Latvian forests. That is quite a hobby for everybody there, and most people really know them, poisoning cases are rare. A good principle is: not sure, do not take it. Most mushrooms have very specific features, they grow in specific places, under particular trees or in a particular area. There are also mushrooms for which is impossible to get them wrong.
      I regret hearing that you suffered so badly.
      Well, for me, there is nothing tastier than wild mushrooms. I fond the taste incredible.
      Well, it is probably not so that all mushrooms everywhere are fine. There can be also environmental and soil pollution. Therefore, I stick to Latvia. I am trying to go once a year. It is a very clean country compared to the so-called developed countries. There is fresh water fish, very many species, wild bird eggs are available for sale. Most people grow something whether they have a tiny or huge garden. Those who live in the city have some small garden outside of town. I think gardening is something Latvians cannot live with. I have started 3 gardens in Canada so far, every time when we moved I started from scratch again. That is unbelievably wonderful way to spend time.
      I hope you sometimes could take a trip to places like Baltic states to just explore how in highly culturally developed place food can be as good and clean as 100 years ago. Well, that is the reason I do not take well the local Canadian extremely artificial foods.

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      1. theburningheart

        Please, do not regret anything, to begin with that happened many years ago, and I am back to love mushrooms, my whole point was just to corroborate, the fact people here do not live close to Nature like in so many other places, like in Latvia, in fact in my culture only really the Indians, or what in the English speaking World we call Native Americans, and few farmers, or people who live in the mountains, have knowledge about the plants, and the forest, and therefore are the only ones who would be able to recognize a poisonous mushroom, not us city slickers!
        In fact through my childhood, before globalization, ate pretty much what the local farmers produced, and that, despite being very variate, and abundant, didn’t include mushrooms, the only mushrooms you could eat you bought at the market in a can, that by the way very few people did, and a local fungus that grows in corn naturally that is delicious.
        I come in contact with mushrooms, when they brought them to the markets quite late in life, at eighteen, years old, or so, since at that time I moved close to the border, and tried Chinese food, where they are used abundantly.
        In California there’s a wider variety of mushrooms produced, because the multicultural ethnicity of the population, but still limited by the expensiveness of it.
        As a curious note I have a friend here, who served as a translator to a Korean merchant for quite some time, not any more, whose job was to buy local produce, and Ocean goods, in order to export to Korea, and one of the things he did, was in the mountains to forage for wild mushrooms to export to Asia.
        Since the local large population are quite unfamiliar with their use, except for those people who are native, and live in very small isolated communities, in the mountains, and forests. 🙂

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      2. Very interesting! This is such a crazy story about mushrooms! Well, the mushrooms in jars are not the same as when you put them on a pan or boil. How do I know? I tried, and the taste did not come even close.
        You certainly cannot learn about plants and forest living in a big city. I learned that stuff more than 50 years ago when we lived in countryside.
        Americans and other developed countries are so sick because they turned any food production swiftly to profit making. Waters and air are polluted, soil is full with chemicals and pesticides, crops are being treated with Monsanto roundup which was at first tested as carcinogenic and all of a sudden some agreements were achieved that it cannot be stated with certainty. Hilarious! Well, then we add all processed and heavily modified foods, and that’s it: every person has some kind of health issue.
        I tried to remember whether we ever had any pills at home when I was younger, and I believe we did not have any. We practically were not seeing a doctor because everything felt fine. When Latvia opened its gates to all products from abroad (as per trade agreements of the European Union) the general health worsened by hour.
        We lose and we gain. We have all the privileges of having so many things close by in a big city and we trade it for good, fresh air, clean water, free of chemicals and naturally rich soil. Therefore, human DNA isn’t able to adapt and change itself. That causes mutations, and there we go, to see a doctor.

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      3. theburningheart

        I didn’t knew too much about mushrooms in my younger years, but now I eat them often, so I know fresh mushrooms are far better, than cans, or jars, so do not worry, still I wouldn’t risk myself to go and pick mushrooms, by myself, without a real mycologist, or a very experienced native of the forest! 🙂
        also a lot of people is going into organic habits, some people even growing their own stuff, however there’s a lot of arguments now day what’s really organic, and what is not not.
        I am pretty aware industrialization, and mass producing by agropecuaria (Farm and livestock) corporations, of monocultivos, (single crop farming) and massive farming, have made a mess, not only of the quality of our food, air, and our water, but the dangers in it, the use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, genetic alterations, and whatever means of shortcuts, and enhancements in order to produce more, and cheaper products, their gains and profits, it is passed to the consumer, as poisons, sickness and decease.
        Well an unnatural lifestyle, who breaks havoc with our health, and of future generations, at least you, and me, grew up with mostly food produced by small farmers, naturally, and with little interference of industrial methods, I remember, produce was seasonal, unlike today!
        And yes, there we go to see the physicians! 😦

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      4. Yes, that is amazing how profoundly everything changed. Produce was seasonal, yes, one was craving for things that were available only in summer or fall. I have done so much weeding, oh my, the rows of some crops were 0.5 km long. Our family always had a garden at the house and one just for things like potatoes, carrots, etc. I believe that’s why I am good with gardening because I have done that since I was 5. I was allowed to plant whatever I liked.
        The younger people will never know how real food actually tasted. I don’t think it’s any natural food stuff left in developed countries like Canada and the US: if it is not covered with pesticides, so it is genetically modified, if it hasn’t been grown with chemicals, so it is processed with them, so on.
        Vegetables are a big trend right now, it is just so that who knows what is in store vegetables. Not everything is organic which has a label “organic”on it.

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  3. Wow, those look amazing, and it looks like you found a good amount of them! Our yard has dozens of different kinds of mushrooms but.. I’m not certain any of them are safe for humans to be eating. These are lovely, though, I can see why you would enjoy these trips so much!

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    1. They do! We walk for kilometers to find such superb mushrooms. They don’t grow anywhere, but under special trees, in special places and parts of forests. It looks like it would be called “king bolete” in English, but there are quite a few similar types. These are just the ones sorted out which do not need boiling, but you fry them right away. There are numerous other ones (probably boiling in a pot already).
      I learned recognizing mushrooms when I was 3. I’ve always loved picking wild mushrooms, it was always my most favorite pastime in late summer and fall. You leave with the first light, 5 am, 6 am. It takes usually a few hours, sometimes more, like 4, 5 hours. During this time you walk briskly in the forest (at least 6-8 km) and try to see them which isn’t always easy since they hide. Best exercise ever, in a fantastic forest! Have to wear long rubber boots, though. In sunny and warm weather have to watch out for snakes.
      The taste of these mushrooms is fantastic. The other ones, too. I remember I had one summer pickled like 50 jars of them, when I still lived in Latvia, in 80-s of the previous century. I do not try to find mushroom forests in Canada. I once did down East, in New Brunswick where we were visiting, and everybody started to scream that I’m gonna poison myself, etc, so, I said, I can wait until I am in Latvia where people know what wild mushroom is.
      There are numerous wild berry forests, too. Some berries I’ve never seen in Canada. It’s just way less fun picking tiny berries with all the insects and mosquitos swirling around. However, it’s worth it because of the unparalleled flavor. So, yes, I can bet you haven’t tried these wild things just because there aren’t any probably. Some mushrooms grow in backyard, a few are even edible, but not seeing in person, I’d never risk to advise consuming them. They all have special features which one learns to detect.

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      1. I love wild fruits and vegetables, even just growing something in your yard somehow softens the flavors, but in the wild? Perfect.
        And the adventure you go on to get them, it’s a great thing, getting back into nature so completely.
        Uhm, it’s a little strange that people would be so dramatic about something like that, they do know their food comes from somewhere.. right? Odd.
        Berry forests? That would be amazing! Are they public?
        Oh! I just recently learned that they’re now making ‘edible parks’ in the states. Parks that are created with only consumable plants. The trees, bushes, everything grown to be safe for humans to eat. It sounds like a fascinating idea.
        And, thank you, we don’t eat our mushrooms. We know better than to touch anything we can’t identify!
        Take care!

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      2. Thanks!
        Berry and mushroom forests are still public in Latvia, you just watch which says is private, but most are accessible and no problem.
        I am just so that I don’t like meat too much, I always need it to be somewhat not looking like what the animal was or I won’t eat it. That’s a feature of me, always was like that. I also do not like or use milk, but eggs I do. We are all different.
        Consumable parks is a nice idea.
        About wild mushrooms you simply learn, I don’t even know where they would grow in Canada, but I have no problem in Latvia. I was 3 years old when I first went to the forest to pick mushrooms, therefore, I am always sure what I pick and when in doubt, just move on.
        See, in the States, everything is very, very different from what it was in Latvia. Canada is the same what the US, so, it’s also extremely different here.
        I just published update after a long time https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2021/07/25/the-rainy-july-uncertainty-and-assumptions/

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      3. You’re welcome!
        That is so cool! It would be such an amazing thing if public parks, trails, and other natural areas also had the option of edible plants, fruits, etc.
        I know of a few countries we visited in Europe that had community gardens, such a simple, yet wonderful way to introduce more natural foods while increasing resources..
        And everyone has a special diet they follow, whether because of preference, or necessity.. You do what’s best for you.
        You’ve lived on this side of the pond for some time now, right? But.. have you enjoyed living in Canada?
        And I’ll have to check it out later but I will check it out, promise! Thank you so much for the link!
        Hope you’re feeling better!

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      4. It’s getting close to two decades here. I don’t know whether it’s better or not. Everything is absurdly expensive in Canada, but especially housing, food and medications. The things you cannot skip, they sure know how to profit most.
        The biggest drawback is probably the bad and extra expensive food. I never buy any pastries, they simply consist of pure sugar. Dairy products are all modified. Fish is rarely fresh, and they have no clue how to chop pork meat here. I don’t like beef, but pork, fish or chicken is fine as long as it comes in small portions.
        I’ve never been on a diet, but have always tried to have everything natural. Thus, I’m still the same size as when I was 21. All clothes still fit. The Latvian genes! Due to 18 surgeries and damage to many body parts, I’ve never been to a gym and don’t intend to be. However, I do a lot of work, as much as pain allows to.
        I haven’t seen community gardens in action, but it might work as long as people behave.

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