It’s early November and the fungi season is coming to a close in Scotland. Well, not entirely! September and October are really the bumper months especially for chanterelles, porcini, boletes and porcelain fungus. But just as the glut seems to be all over, the sharp-eyed will be able to spot the winter mushrooms coming through. November is heralded by winter chanterelles, as tasty as their cousins despite their drab grey-brown caps. They are also called yellow legs for their olive-yellow stems. They like to grow near beech, often very well disguised by the fallen leaves, and sometimes near oak and pine as well.
Also in the leaf litter you may spot a late flush of amethyst deceivers. These look as if they are made of deep purple velvet (see mixed in with the winter chanterelles above). The stems are a little fibrous but the caps, sautéed in butter are very tasty.
Hedgehog fungi, easily distinguished by their soft spines underneath, instead of gills, tubes or pores, are also still out. They have a lovely nutty, peppery taste to them and cannot be easily confused with inedible mushrooms.
On the trees, as the weather gets cooler, you will often get velvet shanks (enokitake) emerging and late flushes of oyster mushrooms continue throughout the winter. Oysters seem to particularly like horse chestnut trees, at least in central Scotland. Wood ears (aka jelly ears) also like the cooler months and can be found on elder and willow trees. Finally, on old hardwood stumps, you may even come across a troupe of stump puffballs.
Make your Hawthorn Gin now
It’s been a bumper year for berries so make the most of it. Now is the time to be picking hawthorn berries and laying down plenty of hawthorn gin or hawthorn brandy for next year. It’s so easy and well-worth the effort. See the recipe here.