Journal / Wild Food

Foraging for wild food and cooking with Oyster Mushrooms

You know when there are glowing embers left after a fire, and the wind picks up? You see the embers grow in intensity, their soft glow turns a deep, strong orange, almost red. If it’s enough wind a fire might start again. That is what my inside feels like right now.

Inspiration as glowing embers about to turn into a fire at any moment.

I stumbled across a podcast called ‘Kitchen Unnecessary‘ where two siblings talk about foraging and wild food. I quickly listened to all their episodes and wanted more! Luckily they also have a YouTube channel where they are out gathering edible plants, fishing and mushroaming with people knowledgable within those fields. Afterwards they gather around a fire to cook with what they’ve foraged.

All of a sudden this is all I want to do. I’ve bought a bunch of new books and I am devouring information about wild edibles, how to identify mushrooms and how to cook the food afterwards. I want to learn everything and share it with others.

Whenever we have friends over I realise how much I love to host. To open up my home to others, share what we have and sit down with a nice beverage, some soul warming food and good conversations. This quote stuck with me:

“We come as strangers and leave as friends”

ashley, Kitchen unnecessary

There’s just something about gathering around food and a fire that really helps people relax and open up. The sparks of the fire spark conversations that otherwise would not have happened, and as soon as we sit down together in a setting like that we are no longer strangers.

So I’m wandering our forest. Learning it’s paths and where the food is. Then I experiment with cooking while dreaming of how I can integrate more of foraging, wild cooking and gatherings in my own life, maybe even work? It’s a nice dream that I hope will one day turn into a goal that I will then make a reality. One day.

picking oyster mushrooms
first time picking Oyster Mushrooms [Pleurotus Ostreatus]

These oyster mushrooms got me so excited when I found them. They’re beautiful and when I had checked a few books and asked friends to confirm my find I got very, very stoked. It’s the first edible I pick that’s not chanterelles, and I was eager to try and cook with it later!

Identifying Oyster Mushrooms [Pleurotus Ostreatus]

Oyster Mushrooms are one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world. They’renamed after their oyster-shaped cap and very short (or completely absent) stem. Oyster mushrooms are typically a light grey or greyish-brown color.

They form clusters called shelves on rotting or fallen logs, mostly on deciduous trees – I found mine on mountain ash (rowan). So if you find one, you’ll often find a whole bunch close together! Be sure to check underneath trees that have fallen over as well, as oysters often prefer to grow in the shade, and check both logs, dead standing and fallen trees.

A note of caution: Never eat a mushroom you are not 100% sure of what it is!

holding a compass
it’s easy to get turned around in the forest as you’re walking and looking down at the ground. Use a compass and check what direction the path or your car is before heading into the thick of it!
Mushroom picking
Sometimes mushroom picking leads to finding other interesting things, like an entire snake skin perfectly preserved.
How cool is that?! If I took it home? Of course!

Also, if you haven’t seen it already – I took photos for a mushroom book written by Elle Nikishkova that was released last year. It helps you identify some really nice food mushrooms as well as give you inspiration on what to cook with them. I bring it with me every time I’m out! Order a copy of your own here.

woman mushroom picking

In the past when I’ve been in the forest with my camera it’s been to take photos and often that has led to me not really enjoying my time outside; I’ve felt pressured to get good photos and so I’ve not had a nice time, not felt inspired and certainly not gotten any good photos!

But now when I head out to forage I have a different purpose. As I walk slowly scanning my surroundings for food I see nature in a different way, and I feel more in tune with it. As a result I am super inspired and having so much fun taking photos. It feels effortless and wonderful. It also helps that I have a story to tell. I am out doing something that I can capture and share, rather than just hunt photos for the sake of photos.

I’ve never been cooking with Oyster Mushrooms before, but the day after my outing I decided to toss together a salad with what I had at home and it turned out really well. It’s such an enriching feeling to cook with food you’ve gathered yourself in the wild. I feel a completely different appreciation for food and produce, and a stronger connection to what I eat.

The texture of the Oyster Mushrooms was nice and tender and I really enjoyed it, so now I definitely want to head out in search for more! It’s raining a lot though so I will have to wait… But hopefully that results in more mushrooms! In the meantime I get to cook with the chanterelles I found tonight, and I really look forward to that as well.

Anyway, since this turned out quite nicely considering I just threw something together, I figured I’d share the recipe with you. Now I am no chef or recipe maker, but here’s kind of what I did:

Warm Winter Sallad with Oyster Mushrooms

Recipe by Rania RönntoftCourse: SaladsDifficulty: Easy
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

This recipe is meant to be simple and I used that I had at home. My beets & broccoli where pre-boiled already which made it a quick meal to toss together. You need to set aside a little bit more time if you need to pre-boil anything.

Make sure you’re doing your veggies in one pan and the mushrooms in another so you can keep it all warm until everything is ready. In the recipe I write that you do the mushrooms after the veggies but if you’re good at multitasking you can fry both at the same time in two different pans which saves some time.

Ingredients

  • Oyster Mushrooms

  • Broccoli

  • Beets

  • Sallad of your choosing

  • Chickpeas

  • Salt

  • Teriyaki Sauce

  • Oil (olive or rapeseed)

  • Honey

  • Koriander / Cilantro

  • Sesame seeds

Directions

  • If you haven’t cleaned up your mushrooms already, do so: Use a mushroom knife to cut off bad parts and the brush side to get any dirt off
  • Pre-boil the beets and broccoli if needed. Cut the beets into slightly thicker slices.
  • Start by frying up the chickpeas and broccoli in a pan with some oil. Season with teriyaki & sesame oil when the outside is lightly brown. Move them to the side of the pan to keep them warm.
  • Mix together a teaspoon of honey with a little bit of oil for the beets.
  • Add your sliced beets to the pan. Fry until the outside seems cooked (remember that they are pre-boiled so they only need to be lightly seared), then drizzle the honey over them. Flip and do the other side.
  • Lower the heat and put a lid on your pan to keep the veggies warm.
  • Heat up a pan with some oil and add your mushrooms. Some mushrooms release a lot of water and if so you want a high heat to get rid of that before adding oil. I did not find that Oyster Mushrooms had a lot of water though.
  • Season the mushrooms with koriander / cilantro and salt. Flip and do both sides. I fried mine quite hard until they felt a little crisp around the edge where they are thinner.
  • Add salad to a bowl, add the warm veggies and mix it around. Place your mushrooms on top and and sprinkle it all with sesame seeds.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • It’s easy to swap out the veggies to what you have at home and crave, and the type of sallad you want to use is up to you.
About Author

Rania Rönntoft lives in Sundsvall where she works as a photographer, content creator and jewellery designer. She loves exploring craft beer and is passionate about nature tourism, slow living and close by adventures.

2 Comments

  • Veera Bianca
    27 August, 2021 at 15:55

    I’m coming over and demand you cook this right away!

    Reply
    • Rania Rönntoft
      27 August, 2021 at 20:11

      haha if you come here (in the fall) we can certainly make it happen, but then you and Sydney have to come with me to the forest first to forage for mushrooms ;)

      Reply

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