After the rain come mushrooms

Fairy ring of field mushrooms.
Fairy ring of field mushrooms.

The fairy rings caught our attention first. On the last day of the school holidays we were driving to buy garden mulch. Like most of the State we received a huge downfall of rain, 74.8mm in 24 hours. Thankfully it was the gentle, soaking kind of rain and we wanted to keep as much of the moisture in the soil as possible. After the rain our neighbour’s paddock was covered with not only fairy rings, but dotted with white crests where he’d spread manure as fertiliser before Christmas and mushroom spores had sprouted.
The boys look at the fairy rings
The boys look at the fairy rings

We pulled into the paddock and showed the boys the fairy rings. Fairy rings are naturally occurring circles of mushrooms that appear in the grass. The boys were enchanted by the folklore surrounding fairy rings, that they are gateways to elfin kingdoms or places where pixies and fairies dance. We vowed to return in the cool of the evening to pick some mushrooms for dinner.
Field mushrooms picked from the paddock.
Field mushrooms picked from the paddock.

Armed with a large colander we walked down the driveway, across the road, and climbed through the wire fence into the paddock. There was no shortage of mushrooms. Confident they were edible and not poisonous, after an online search, we easily lifted the white knobs from the earth and quickly filled the colander. Dinner that night was a mixed grill of wild mushrooms and homegrown zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and beef.
Freshly picked field mushrooms.
Freshly picked field mushrooms.

Then began the hunt for information on preserving mushrooms. There were too many to eat in one sitting. A recipe for pickled mushrooms preserved in oil appealed. Over 24 hours this involved slicing the mushrooms, salting them to release excess water, pickling them in vinegar, drying them and storing them in olive oil with chilli, lemon zest, bay leaf and marjoram.
Field mushrooms drying after pickling
Field mushrooms drying after pickling

We exchanged ideas with our neighbours and friends for using the mushrooms. Toni tried out the “Hot Car” method of drying mushrooms. We had grilled mushrooms on toast for breakfast, used mushrooms in an egg and bacon pie for dinner and threaded mushrooms on linen to air dry them. We thought the mushrooms would disappear within days, but instead more continue to push their way through the pasture. We’ll enjoy them while they last. A gift from the elves. Note: Please be super careful when foraging for mushrooms and reference a reliable source to ensure they are the edible kind.
Mushrooms air drying strung on linen
Mushrooms air drying strung on linen

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