Foray at Pewit’s Nest – Sunday, June 3

At 2 pm on Sunday, June 3, Madison Mycological Society will be meeting at Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area (SNA #200 in Sauk County) for a late-spring foray. Parking is available at Pewit’s Nest Trailhead (also see the DNR map). Alden Dirks will lead the foray. If you can’t find the group, contact him at 610-314-9573. Add your name or find a ride on our carpooling list.

As a reminder, please be cautious and conscientious when moving through public lands. State Natural Areas are available for public recreation like wild foraging, but are protected primarily because they are some of the last remaining areas representative of the ecosystems that existed across Wisconsin prior to European-American colonization. Please avoid trampling vegetation. Learn more about Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas Program.

State natural areas (SNAs) protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin’s native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing nearly 400,000 acres, Wisconsin’s 687 natural areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals.

First Annual Morel Foray – Sunday, May 20, 2018

This Sunday, May 20, at 2 pm, Madison Mycological Society will be meeting at Stephens Falls parking lot at Governor Dodge State Park for our first foray, the First Annual Morel Foray. Add your name or find a ride on our carpooling list. Each vehicle requires an admission ticket to enter Wisconsin state parks. If you don’t have one, an annual sticker ($28) or daily pass ($8) can be bought at the entrance to the park.

Spring was late to come this year, and morels were as well. They should be at or approaching their peak this Sunday, especially given the consistent nightly downpours and warm weather.

Morels (genus Morchella) are fascinating and beautiful mushrooms. The most common in these parts, Morchella esculentoides, which has grayish ridges and darkish pits, becoming more yellow in maturity, is what you are likely to find. It appears almost anywhere with trees, but is most commonly found under dead and dying American elms and living white and green ash trees. Morchella cryptica is morphologically indistinguishable from M. esculentoides, but a phylogenetically distinct species. Short of sequencing, we will have to settle for the M. esculentoides determination for most finds.

For more information about morels, I highly recommend you read Michael Kuo’s entry on Mushroom Expert. He is one of the leading experts on this group and offers a very approachable description on his excellent website.

There are toxic morel “look-alikes,” but honestly they only look alike if one has  neglected to learn basic traits of the mushroom and failed to make simple observations. Species belonging to the genera Verpa and Gyromitra might be confused, but one can distinguish morels by the fact that they are completely hollow (geode-like) without any whispy or cottony material, are not brain-like in appearance but rather have ridges and dimples, and have caps that are mostly or completely attached to the stem.

Other “edible” fungi that you are likely to find are Cerioporus squamosus (Dryad’s Saddle), Pleurocybella porrigens (Angel Wings), and jelly fungi like Auricularia auricula (Jelly Ear),  Exidia recisa (Amber Jelly), and Exidia glandulosa (Black Jelly Brain). While Jelly Ear is commonly cultivated and eaten, especially in Asian cuisines, their isn’t much value to the others, and Angel Wings might be toxic, especially to those with kidney disorders. If you make something tasty, though, let me know.

As a reminder, we are here to share and teach, but what you decide to eat is ultimately your responsibility. We must emphasize that you should be 100% confident about your identification, otherwise the consequences can be grave. With some basic training and common sense, though, morel hunting is very safe and extremely rewarding. Everyone’s a mycologist when it’s morel season.

MMS Workshop – April 24, 2018 – Wild Yeast: from Soil to Sourdough

Tue, April 24th – Madison Mycological Society and Madison Fermentation Cooperative present – Wild Yeast: from Soil to Sourdough

6:30 – 8:00 pm – Madison Sourdough Company bakery classroom – 916 Williamson St (map)

Yeasts are all around us – they’re fungi with immeasurable ecological value, and have shaped the course of human culinary history.

Join the Madison Mycological Society and Madison Fermentation Collective in hosting yeast experts for a seminar and workshop on wild yeasts. The Hittinger Lab will teach us about citizen science identification of wild yeasts, as well as yeast ecology and fermentation. Madison Sourdough will then lead a demo on the use of wild yeasts in sourdough.

All attendees are welcome to bring a sample of anything – soil, sourdough, plant matter, whatever it may be – and we will isolate its yeasts together. The Hittinger Lab will then sequence and report back what they find. Finally, bring a container and leave with your own sourdough starter, then get baking!