2015-02-05 / From The Garden

Mushroom Mania

By Jack Kelly

Ryan Bouchard and Emily Schmidt have scoured various mushroom habitats across the state and have encountered a number of rare and sometimes surprising discoveries such as black trumpets, lion’s mane, hen-of-thewoods, chicken-of-the-woods, and beefsteak mushrooms. They have also made significant finds on Aquidneck Island.

“We have tested and tasted over 130 edible species during our research and found the variety in Rhode Island to be highly enjoyable. Each species has its own taste, texture and adds flavor to any type of culinary serving,” Bouchard said. Experiencing the taste and texture of mushrooms is somewhat comparable to the difference between chicken and fish, or chicken and beef, as every breed of edible fungi is unique in the flavors it presents.

The pair will be presenting a talk about their passion for mushrooms at the Newport Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. The educational program on the art of mushroom hunting and identification will cover what types can be found growing wild in the Ocean State and how they can be used in meals.

Safety is a major issue with mushrooms, especially for beginners, and great care must be taken in collecting them. There can be similarities between wild mushrooms, and while some are perfectly fine and edible, others can potentially cause illness and even death. Bouchard suggests caution and practice before consuming mushrooms found in the wild.

Bouchard is the author and photographer of the book, "Gourmet Mushrooms of Rhode Island," the first written about mushroom hunting in the state. His stunning photographs of wild, all-local mushroom varieties highlight this unique and informative edition. Schmidt will address the nutritional values of the different species, as well as the proper preparation and cooking of these tasty, natural wonders. Bouchard and Schmidt will also present a slideshow on mushroom science and the hobby of mushroom hunting in Rhode Island.

Mushroom aficionados may want to take advantage of another culinary program being offered by the Rhode Island Mushroom Company, 141 Fairgrounds Road, West Kingston, on Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 5:30 - 7 p.m. Workshop participants will observe how gourmet mushrooms are grown commercially, explore the company’s “grow rooms,” and learn the basics of mushroom cultivation. In the event of foul weather, the alternative date will be Tuesday, Feb. 17.

The Rhode Island Mushroom Company is a member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) and produces mushrooms that include, blue oyster, cremini, golden oyster, king oyster, maitake, portobello and others for restaurants and consumers. For further information, visit www.nofari.org/ events or contact NOFA/RI Administrator Sanne Kure-Jensen at 401- 369-3303 or sannek-j@cox.net.

Return to top