It’s time to spray your clothes with tick repellent, grab a grocery sack, and head for the woods. The trumpets are sounding—the black trumpet mushrooms, that is.
My daughter, Robin, and mushroom guru Ken Gilberg spent a day on our farm tracking the illusive, highly-prized black trumpets, that look like mini gramophones poking out of the earth. She and my 4-year-old granddaughter had spotted some tiny ones last weekend. Now Robin and Ken and his dog, Soapy, were back for the harvest. While Soapy has shown no talent for sniffing out edible fungi, she is adept at chasing rabbits.
Black trumpets, sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s truffles,” are a delicacy that’s hard to find in many areas. Some mycologists (mushroom experts) go for years without coming upon any. But here in the Midwest, we are blessed with them each year during the late summer months.
The funnel-shaped fungi can be a bit pricey when you try to buy them. I saw some dried black trumpets on line for $31 a quarter pound! That’s $124 a pound; the cheapest I saw were $60 a pound. Some cooks prefer the dried version because their flavor greatly intensifies, making the trumpets even more desirable for cooking. This Wild Mushroom Risotto is very similar to what Chef Ben Poremba cooked at Robin’s recently.
In the Kitchen with Ken and Friends
A few days after the harvest, Ken invited friends and co-workers to enjoy the bounty. Guest provided the side dishes. In the skillet, black trumpets, like their cousins, yellowfoot chanterelles, cook very fast. Once they hit the pan, they’re pretty much done. The flavor released is very intense, with a bit of a sweet note.
Whether you forage the countryside or the local supermarkets, a variety of both domestic and wild mushrooms is available for fungi fanciers. Just be sure to share your dish with someone, which makes the search, preparation and eating far more fun.
Herbaria: 2016 Marconi, on the Hill. Open: Tue-Sat. 10a-5p.