Author Archives: Rosi Hunter

For the Novice Forager: 5 Edible Mushrooms in Season Now


Many of us think of mushroom season as being in the Fall. While the majority of our dinnertime favourites fruit in Autumn, mushrooms of one kind or another can be found all year round, if you look closely!

In this post, we’ll be looking at some common mushrooms that fruit in the Spring and early Summer here in the Pacific Northwest.


A morel growing in a burn site

1. Morel (Morchella spp.) Many would consider morels the primary goal of Spring mushroom hunting. Morels are prized for their culinary excellence, and of course, their elusiveness. Mushrooms with long-term myccorhizae (plant – fungi relationships) can fruit year after year in the same place, and often associate with a certain species of tree, or thrive in certain biomes, which makes them a bit easier to track down. Morels on the other hand, don’t stick around more than 1 or 2 years in the same place, so even once you find some, you are not likely to find them again. They can be found April through July, typically arising in disturbed areas such as garden beds, and most famously, past wildfire sites.

Caution: Always cook morels thoroughly. Raw morels contain a toxin that can cause gastro-intestinal distress. In addition, many people find consuming alcohol and morels in the same meal also creates GI distress. I frequently enjoy wine with my morel pasta so I know it doesn’t affect everyone. As with all wild mushrooms, proceed with caution, and don’t try a new species the day before going on a hot date or important event! 





Spring Oyster Mushrooms – photo by @forage.vanisle



2. Spring Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are another Spring favourite. Similar to the cultivated oyster mushroom, but in my opinion, incomparably better. There is a similar species called “Angel Wings” (Pleurotus porrigens) that was up until recently widely considered edible and choice. However, several deaths were linked to it in 2004, causing reconsideration. I have friends who eat them anyways and love them. If you are worried about telling them apart, the biggest clue is: Angel Wings fruit in the Fall, and Spring Oysters fruit in the Spring. There is a species of oyster mushroom that fruits in the fall, but it looks significantly different, having greyish/brown/green colouration. My favourite way to enjoy these is to marinate in garlic, parsley, olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper before gently sauteeing, baking, or grilling and adding to pasta, risotto, or on a burger.






Chicken of the Woods





3. Chicken of the Woods (In our area there are two species, both edible, Laetiporus conifericola & L. gilbertsonii), is one of the most visually striking Spring mushrooms. When young, they really do have the texture of chicken! When old, they have the texture of chalk. They can be found growing on conifers (L. conifericola), and hardwood trees (L. gilbertsonii) living or dead. Harvest younger specimens (leave the babies!) and the outer 2″ of mature specimens, taking the most tender part and leaving the rest to continue releasing spores. Cook well, (I recommend adding them to a risotto), and use caution – some cases of intestinal distress/allergies/bad results have been reported when consumed with alcohol




Young Shaggy Manes, photo courtesy of Rob Dumont



4. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). These are wonderful for beginners because they are easy to identify and are often seen in Vancouver’s parks, boulevards, university campuses, and other grassy urban areas. I wouldn’t recommend harvesting from urban areas due to the potential of contamination, but for identification practice only. Due to their delicate texture, they aren’t suitable in many recipes you would use button mushrooms, such as omelettes. They require intention and creativity. Harvest young, firm specimens that have not become “inky”. Ensure you identify a patch in all stages to confirm ID. There are mushrooms in this genus with unknown/questionable edibility, namely C. lagopus and C. atramentaria. This chef is amazing, although I haven’t tried this recipe specifically:


Spring King Boletes, photo by Michael Wood, from

5. Spring King Bolete aka Porcini (Boletus rex-veris). Porcinis are a staple in Italian cuisine. The Spring King was thought to be an early-fruiting variant of Boletus edulis (King Bolete) until 2008, when it achieved its own unique status. E. rex-veris are usually found at high elevations (above 4,000 feet, or a few hundred feet below the snowline) in May and June, dovetailing nicely into King Bolete season, which occurs in late summer and early autumn. According to UBC’s Zoology department: “All Boletus species with a brown cap and a light stem with a network on it (sometimes subtle), and no colour changes to red or blue when cut or with age are considered good edibles (from” Network meaning, a fishnet pattern on the stem (note – mushroom stems are technically called a stipe, if we’re being proper). I must confess, I have never found a Spring King Bolete myself, the ones I’ve found have been only in late summer. Despite my lack of personal experience with this one, I think it is a good one to know about when planning a Spring forage.



Thanks for reading! This article is not intended to be an identification guide. Much of the information in this post has been gathered by myself over years of conferring with various books, websites, and resources, and my own personal experience and that of trusted friends. Unless specifically cited, please consider this post to be informed with experiential and “common” knowledge that I hope you will find interesting and inspire you to do your own research. When consuming any wild mushroom for the first time, be 100% certain of the ID, cook well, try a very small amount, do not consume with alcohol, and save one specimen in case you need to go to the emergency room so poison control can identify what you ate (I’m serious).

BC’s Truffle Industry: The Next Frontier is Underground

Dexter discovers a treasure

When you are out foraging for mushrooms, could the real treasures be underground? The folks at the Truffle Association of BC say it’s possible. The allure of truffles is well known, with prices as much as $6,000/Kg for the most expensive type, the Italian White Truffle, Tuber magnatum. Finding them, though, is another story.


What is a truffle?

If you don’t know much about truffles, here are the Coles notes: Truffles are essentially a mushroom that fruits underground. With most fungi, the vegetative body of the organism lives underground all year, and only in fruiting season will it send up a reproductive structure that we know as a mushroom. But with truffles, the fruiting body never breaks the surface. In the absence of wind current, truffles have evolved to have animals disperse their spores. Truffles release an attractive scent that mimics the sex hormones of pigs, which allows them to sniff out, dig up, and eat the truffles, dispersing the spores elsewhere in their stools.

You may be thinking, “I like the smell of truffles, does that mean I like the smell of pig sex hormones?” Try not to read into it. Shannon Berch, the lead researcher for TABC, advised that to her knowledge there are no poisonous truffles, due to the fact that they rely on animals consuming them to propagate. Humans could, hypothetically, also be vectors of spore dispersal (I asked).

Wild and cultivated truffle samples

BC Truffle Festival

On Saturday February 29th, the BC Truffle Festival held an event at the UBC Farm, located on the unceded lands of the Squamish, Tseil-Watuth, and Musqueam First Nations. It was a crisp sunny day, and about 40 truffle enthusiasts gathered in a rustic yurt just a few minute’s walk from UBC’s Truffiére (Truff-ee-AIR). In attendance were experts in every aspect of trufflemania you could think of: science, cultivation, culinary preparation, and of course, two adorable truffle dogs and their dedicated owners.

For something as secretive as truffles, the members of TABC were extremely generous with their information. The society actively encourages people to start cultivating truffles. However, as Sharmin Gamiet, truffle and mushroom cultivation consultant, puts it, “Growing Truffles is not for the faint of heart.” In her presentation, we learned it takes about seven years of planning, soil pH adjustment, and roughly a $35,000 investment before you see a truffle, if you’re lucky. The UBC Farm Truffiére was established with oak trees inoculated with Perigord truffle spawn in 2013 and is ripe to start producing truffles. Sadly, when we went out with the dogs, despite it being peak truffle season, there were none to be found. My fingers are crossed for next year. 

BC’s Truffle Industry

“We are trying to create an industry,” Doug Campbell, TABC volunteer and manager of the UBC Farm Truffière, told me after the event. Both wild truffle hunting and truffle cultivation are relatively new industries to BC. With Europe’s truffle industry in decline due to climate change and deforestation, there is an opportunity to meet the growing global demand for truffles. There are only a handful of producing truffiéres in Canada, with Southern BC being one of Canada’s few suitable growing regions. Varieties in cultivation in BC include Bianchetto (Tuber borchii) and Perigord (Tuber melanosporum). 

However, no species is off the table (pun intended). Since BC’s Truffle Industry is still emerging, it is an exciting new frontier for farmers and researchers to experiment and hopefully discover new techniques to grow previously uncultivated species. This is exactly what happened at ArborInnov Inc. in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Thanks to years of research and development in plant-fungi symbiosis (mychorrizae), they successfully cultivated the Apalachian Truffle (Tuber canaliculatum) in 2016. You can learn more about their work at


A bianchetto truffle grown in Langley, BC

BC’s Native Truffles

So you don’t have seven years to wait? You could still be in luck. To my delight, I learned that BC has dozens of native truffle species, and more are being discovered all the time. There are two main types of culinary truffle native to Southern BC: Oregon Black Truffles (Leucangium carthusianum), and Oregon White Truffles (actually two species that are only distinguishable by their harvest season: Tuber gibbosum, and Tuber oreganese). A trained truffle dog can sniff them out no problem. Brooke Page, truffle dog owner and trainer, told us, “The challenge with training is not teaching your dog to find truffles. They already know how to do that. The trick is teaching them to communicate to you where they are.” Any dog can be trained to hunt for truffles, but certain breeds, namely Lagotto Romagnolo, naturally excel at it. Your best bet is to start in a Douglas fir forest, in a valley, typically with trees younger than 50 (old growth is not necessary unlike other types of mushrooms). Both varieties can cost between $800-1800/Kg.

So with all the hard work and chance involved, why bother? To me, it’s like any other investment: the risk is high, but the potential return is worth it. The unique, revered flavour and rarity combined with a high price tag make truffle farming and hunting particularly attractive to those looking for the next gold rush.

The Truffle Association of British Columbia is a society dedicated to supporting BC’s truffle industry by providing information, upholding quality standards, and ensuring a consistent supply of truffles for years to come. If you are interested in learning more, visit A special thank you to them for informing this article and providing photos from the event by Luke Mikler Photography