It is by coincidence that I became a quad enthusiast. My spouse is an amateur mycologist and we used to go on long walks in the forest in search of mushrooms. Then, we bought our first used quad to explore more quickly and easily the territories with good harvesting potential.
When I bought my first new vehicle, the salesman asked me about the activities I intended to do, to suggest the most appropriate model for my needs. I remember very well telling him: “It’s just for riding at low speed in the trails in search of mushrooms… I never thought I would become addicted to ATV riding and very long rides.
Nowadays, I love to ride around the province of Quebec and cover the miles at a good pace for several days, but I always keep an eye on the little undiscovered treasures that grow along the trails: the forest mushrooms.
Never eat a mushroom unless it is identified by a qualified person. Do not rely on a photograph to identify a mushroom. This article is not an education on mycology.
Some regions of Quebec are known to have the most delicious and easily identified species of forest mushrooms. Chanterelles from the Beauce, crab mushrooms from the North Shore, morels from the North in the burnt areas, ceps from Kamouraska, etc. Some of them have the good idea of being regular, that is to say that they grow in the same places year after year, but you still have to find them. A prospecting trip on a quad bike is done at about 15 km/h in areas and on dates that are favourable to the species we are looking for. Therefore, to succeed in our quest, we need a minimum of knowledge on the subject. Once we have found our little garden, we just have to geolocate it and go there at the appropriate dates to ensure a good annual harvest.
A good harvest of morels
It’s time for our first summer quad rides and also the season of the most popular mushroom in the mycological world: the morel. This elegant and slender mushroom is certainly the most expensive on the market. Professional pickers are roaming the wide open spaces ravaged by forest fires, as it is mainly in these areas that the black morels are found. Blonde morels are more common on our trails and near our homes.
A dozen morels a few inches from the trail
Difficult to see among the dead leaves that line the trails, they like the soil stirred and slightly sandy. They are so faithful and rare that no one reveals where they are picked!
Be careful, the morel can be confused with the gyromitre, rounder and more misshapen, which is poisonous.
Top gourmet: Leg of lamb with morel sauce
End of July
We have finished eating our morels and it is time to move on to the chanterelles. These are easier to identify by their yellow color which contrasts on the surrounding green. They are regular and sometimes grow in a wide band that can reach several dozen meters long. These “veins” of chanterelles, also called girolles, contain several hundred specimens scattered on the ground. When the harvest is abundant, we preserve our little treasures by drying or freezing them once they are cooked.
Return from a chanterelle harvest
Be careful, chanterelle can be confused with the clitocybe which grows in clusters and on buried stumps and which is toxic.
Gourmet top: Fresh pasta with chanterelles in cream sauce
It’s mushroom season! Lactarius, oyster mushroom, matsutake, sheep’s head, polypore (hen-of-the-woods), etc.
Variety of boletes after a walk
The exploitation of the majority of boletus is also done in this period. Some are easy to identify and quite delicious, but the majority are rather tasteless. Among the ones I like are the spruce and orange boletes that grow along forest roads that stay firm even when simmered and taste great in a spaghetti sauce. It’s also time to look for oyster mushrooms, porcini mushrooms that look like smurf houses and crab mushrooms.
Crab mushroom at the edge of the trail
The crab mushroom is the easiest mushroom to identify in Quebec and there is no species that resembles it; it is the perfect mushroom for the neophyte. It is very often found on the edge of trails and even in the middle. We harvest specimens of a beautiful orange color, massive and firm to the touch. Very tasty, it perfumes wonderfully the bechamels and is very good with seafood.
Gourmet tip: puff pastries with crab mushroom bechamel sauce
Dried and potted crab mushroom
No, there are no mushrooms to harvest in December 🙂 However, it is a wonderful time to start a training course in a local mycology club in order to be able to identify, in a safe way, the good mushrooms harvested during your rides. There are 3000 varieties of mushrooms in Quebec, of which a hundred are edible, about thirty are good edibles (the ones we are looking for) and a hundred are toxic.
Good edibles will add a unique touch to your sauces and recipes. So why not add a harvesting goal to your next ride and really TASTE the fun of the quad?