P.E.I. mushroom trip: foragers take to the forests during plentiful season

·2 min read
Chanterelles are one edible mushroom that have been popping up across the Island this season. (Kara Mcpeak - image credit)
Chanterelles are one edible mushroom that have been popping up across the Island this season. (Kara Mcpeak - image credit)

The conditions are perfect for mushroom growth on P.E.I. this year.

"We had three or so really dry summers and this year was really wet, so mushrooms just fleshed out," said Ken Sanderson, a local mushroom enthusiast.

He said the foraging community on the Island is growing along with the fungi — and people have been after a particular edible mushroom.

"Chanterelles in particular were super bountiful," he said.

King boletes, another edible variety, have been much more plentiful than previous years as well, he said.

"Meadow mushrooms are another one commonly eaten on the Island."

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Sanderson said more people seem to be thinking about food security during the pandemic. Some got into foraging, especially for mushrooms.

He said the community has a Facebook page called P.E.I. Foraging Friends. The group has over 1,500 members and Sanderson said they will often help identify species of mushroom, but he does have a warning.

"Almost always everyone does it with a caveat of doing your own research. Just because someone on Facebook says it is good doesn't mean it is."

Sanderson has a natural history background. He is self-taught using research and identification textbooks. He recommends using resources for people starting out.

"If you don't know for sure, don't eat what you don't know," he said. "Make sure you have 100 per cent identification."

He said he has yet to eat a mushroom that made him sick.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

On Saturday, he led a group of about 30 foragers through the trails and at the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in Brookvale.

Shirley Li was on the tour. She was excited to find two mushroom varieties she could eat.

"One is a chanterelle and another one is honey mushroom," she said.

"It doesn't taste really good, but it is mushroom and it is nutritious. And a beautiful colour," Li said of the chanterelles.

She also found a honey mushroom. Though it is a little bit old, she plans to taste it.

"Because it's called honey mushroom, I guess it is a little sweet."

Li said she likes to eat and explore the Island and foraging is bringing those two loves together.

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