Colby Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Author: Julia Nelson (Page 1 of 2)

Mushroom Foraging At Colby


We know this blog is about gardening, or growing your food,  but there are other ways to get food from the Earth. For example- foraging!!

Mushrooms grow all over the great state of Maine and once you learn the basics, it can be pretty easy to get in the habit of collecting your own mushrooms to cook into delicious meals. While we recommend doing more research, here are some basic things to know to get you started.

SEASON- The best time to forage in Maine is the fall, around September and October, according to David Porter, a mycology (fungi) specialist.

CONDITIONS- Porter also says that the best places to find mushrooms are in a soggy forest. So your best bet on Colby’s campus would be to head into the Arboretum after a good rainstorm when the mushrooms have been soaked for a while. Mushrooms in Maine love to grow on and/or under Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Pine, Birch, Maple, Aspen, Balsam Fir (Christmas trees), and Spruce trees.

CAUTIONS- Some mushrooms, even in Maine can be fatal to humans if consumed. Don’t eat a mushroom unless you are sure of it’s type! Also, make sure to check if its poisonous in your geographic location. The lilac brown bolete is usually listed as edible, but in Maine there are instances of it being poisonous. Avoid picking “little brown mushrooms!”

THE BEST KINDS- While there are hundreds of options of mushrooms to forage for in Maine, we’ve collected some of the most common to find and common to cook with.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what to look for.

  1. ChanterellesRelated image
  2. Black TrumpetImage result for black trumpet mushrooms in maine
  3. Puff BallsImage result for puff ball mushrooms in maine
  4. Chicken of the Woods


Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms for Novices

Is it edible? The practical science of mushroom foraging in Maine

Ways to eat summer produce in winter

One of the things I definitely miss most while in the depths of a Maine winter is the delicious variety of fruits and vegetables that are available during the summer. While squashes, kale, root vegetables and other winter veggies are great as well, sometimes all you want is a taste of a sun gold tomato in December!

The go-to way to make food last long is by canning it because it doesn’t use fridge space and the cans can last virtually forever. If you are ready to take on a day of canning- go you!! You could be set with fruits, veggies, sauces, salsas all winter long. The internet has tons of instructions and words of advice about how to can. Here is one site to learn the basics of canning. 

There are definitely other ways to make produce last long, but these involve using up some freezer space. Here are a few simple ways and example products to go along with the method.

  1. Freeze berries for smoothies or baked goods. In order to not create frozen clumps or fruit covered with freezer burn, wet the fruit and then spread it out on a baking sheet so that none are touching. Place the tray in the freezer until frozen and then you can move them into ziplock bags for easier storage.
  2. Make pesto or salsa ice cubes for quick additions to recipes. Basil and tomatoes are two veggies that grow super fast for a short period of time in the summer. Take advantage of these products (and others) by cooking a big batch of your favorite sauce. While you can freeze all the sauce in a bag or recycled plastic container, you can also divide the batch into ice cube trays and once frozen, transport them to a more convenient storage vessel. This allows you to take a little bit at a time rather than having to defrost the entire batch.
  3. Bake breads, muffins, or cookies and freeze them. Do you love zucchini bread more than anyone else? Make several batches over the summer when zucchinis are perfectly in season and then place them in your freezer. They will last for months! Making individual portions, like mini loaves or muffins will allow you to remove one at a time to defrost. This also works for making blueberry pancakes, pumpkin waffles, and cinnamon apple french toast!
  4. Quick pickle your veggies!  Cucumbers, carrots, and radishes can be made into fridge pickles in about 10 minutes. Vinegar, your favorite spices and seasonings, and maybe some water are all you need to make crunchy pickles that will be ready in about a week. Here is a basic recipe . My favorite is fresh garlic and black peppercorn.

Essentially, just because a fruit or vegetable is going out of season doesn’t mean you don’t get to eat it anymore. Source your food locally all year round by taking extra measures to can, freeze, and pickle produce.

Ugly Fruits and Vegetables

Food waste is a huge problem globally. Approximately 40% of the food we produce gets wasted, often for no good reason. For example, a lot of fruits and vegetables are deemed “un-sellable” because they don’t look like what a typical apple, carrot, etc. is supposed to look like. However, these products have nothing wrong with them and actually may have extra  benefits that a standard piece of fruit or vegetable lacks.

Fruits can have a higher sugar content because of the stress they endured during whatever caused them to be “ugly.” This makes them sweeter and all around tastier. Also, infected tissue in fruits and vegetables can have a higher antioxidant content than healthy tissue. The plants accumulate more phenolic compounds during their response to infection. Additionally, ugly produce is often sold at a discounted price point, meaning it can be cheaper to eat these kinds of fruits and vegetables. Being healthier, saving money, and contributing to fighting the food waste crisis are all awesome reasons why ugly produce is seriously the better produce!





Desserts with Veggies!

Vegetables aren’t just for the main course!! Here are 5 delicious, not-veggie-tasting recipes for desserts that use a fair amount of veggies. Not only does this make the recipe slightly healthier, but vegetables are also a great way to make foods like cake extra moist.

  1. Chocolate Zucchini Cake
    • This is a really common veggie cake recipe and for good reasons!! Zucchini is an amazing addition to chocolate cake because it adds a subtle texture and stops the cake from drying out.
  2. Carrot Cake
    • Another classic cake, this particular version has an additional recipe for maple cream cheese frosting- another way to use some local New England products in your baking.
  3. Chocolate Beet and Avocado Cake
    • Vegan? Gluten-free? This cake works for everyone! Beets work the same way as zucchini in this chocolate cake recipe and avocado (while not a Maine native product) makes the frosting really creamy. Beets can also be used as a natural food dye to make red velvet cake/cupcakes.
  4. Butternut Squash Bread
    • Banana, pumpkin, and zucchini bread can get boring after awhile. Try a new kind of quick bread and make one with butternut squash.
  5. Spinach Berry Popsicles
    • A really easy way to make breakfast, lunch, snack smoothies more exciting is freeze them and make popsicles! They taste sweet, are refreshing, and can be fun art projects (try layering different smoothie combos in the mold). This recipe isn’t a full on dessert but it can do the trick. Make your favorite smoothie, add some greens, and popsicle it for a better way to get your greens.
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