FinSki’s journal of all things mushrooms
Wow, what a busy time it has been for Bella and I. We’ve been so busy getting other projects for FinSki’s off the ground (more information on these later) that we almost lost track of time and let Autumn fly by without a tour!
We’ve been out several times this year to both the Southern Highlands and Oberon areas, enjoying the serenity that being in the forest brings – well, as serene as it can be with a dog that just loves to roll in wombat poo and having the kids trying to get him to jump in muddy puddles so he can get clean (eau de wombat pour chien)… anyway, the serenity between those moments is magical.
We decided to host a tour on the 17th of May and not surprisingly it booked out in a heartbeat. Friend and amazing photographer Sie Kitts, joined us and beautifully documented the day for our photo journal…
Mushroom tour May 2015
On a brisk and sunny morning the group all met up at Pheasants Nest at 8:00am. Once we had all arrived and introductions were made, we headed off to the forest. An eerie, ghostly fog lay close to the ground as we headed in.
On arrival at our first stop, there’s a brief rundown on the mushrooms we will be foraging for and then it’s on, everyone heads into the forest for their own unique experience of foraging. One of the greatest joys Bella and I get from our tours is showing the kids the great pleasure of gathering wild mushrooms. The knowledge and experience they receive this one day in the forest will forever be with them … and they really have so much fun.
After a couple of hours we slowly head back to the cars for coffee and nibbles. It’s funny, we don’t have a set time limit but people just naturally turn around for re-fueling. We got some beautiful pine mushrooms in this area, everyone was really happy.
After our coffee break we all head to another area of the forest to collect slippery jack mushrooms.
The smaller ones are great for pan frying or pickling but the larger ones are best if they have been peeled and dried first. There is something very therapeutic about peeling mushrooms while waiting for the group to slowly gather again.
Now ravenous and eager to try the freshest of mushrooms, we pan fry a whole heap of saffron milk caps. Simple ingredients of butter and salt with the caramelised mushrooms and you are in heaven. It always take people by surprise just how different and tasty these mushrooms are.
We served them with sour dough bread, danish feta some chives and a drizzle of Cabernet concentrate from my aunt’s micro vineyard – sublime!
It was a fantastic group, thank you so much, we had a ball meeting you and we look forward to sharing the experience with many more next year.
Here are some happy snaps from us…
Soaking up the rays… Sie taking some beautiful photos of the day… The early morning fog that settled over Belanglo… Look who we bumped into… Diego Benetto, selfie no.1 Coffee stop… Tara from VegeTARAian joined us on the tour – selfie no.2 So many gorgeous flavours…
September 2014: Lyndey Milan puts FinSki’s mushroom foraging in her top 5 foodie experiences from her show, Taste of Australia.
Bella and I are over the moon to have ‘foraging for wild mushrooms’ selected in Lyndey Milan’s “Top 5 Foodie Experiences” for her article in Australian Traveller magazine.
With all the travels she did for her show, Taste of Australia; the multitude of experiences with the amount of people she met, mushroom foraging with FinSki’s ranked up there with the best!
April 2013: Mushrooming with the Youth Food Movement Australia
Bella and I had the good fortune to meet an amazing group of people who give their time to helping make aware to young Australians the need to take ownership of the development of a healthy and secure food future here in Australia… Youth Food Movement Australia
With two Guerrilla dinners planned, the menu was designed with exact knowledge of where and how the produce came to their plates…
“You’ll be enjoying a beautifully crafted ‘paddock to plate’ menu alongside a specially designed conversation menu, and get to know the food and the local providores who brought it to you! ”
So on a very warm Autumn’s day we took YFM to The Southern Highlands to forage for enough mushrooms to feed their guests. After a de-brief about the mushrooms to be collected we all headed in.
After a few hours and most baskets getting full, we headed back to the cars to rehydrate and have lunch. With so many helping hands the YFM had enough saffron milk cap mushrooms for their main course of Pine Mushroom Parcels… and a spare few mushrooms to cook up for lunch. Nothing beats foraging for your food and cooking it there and then, heaven!
Blondie cooking up wild mushrooms for lunch
Carefully laying out the mushrooms in their beds, they were ready to be taken back to Sydney.
It was a great day and such an opportunity to meet amazing people.
FinSki’s gave gift bags for the two nights of both the Dried Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms and the Dried Slippery Jacks…
FinSki’s gift bags
FinSki’s Dried Mushrooms
The Windmill in The Rocks, a few hours prior to the first dinner
Mushroom foraging with Lyndey Milan for her new show Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia
In March 2013, FinSki’s was asked to do a segment on Lyndey Milan’s new tv show, Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia… how amazing is that?? Needless to say, we dropped everything and took Lyndey to our favourite mushrooming spot in Oberon. Here is our behind the scenes…
Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia will be showing on 7TWO mid March 2014 and on the Lifestyle FOOD Channel mid year… If you are flying Qantas internationally or interstate you get to see our mushrooming segment before anyone else!
Blondie and Bella xxx
17th March 2013 – FinSki’s first wild mushroom foraging tour
What a fantastic start to the 2013 mushrooming season it has been! Bella and I headed out a few weeks ago to see if mushrooms were about… through the grape vine, or more appropriately, the mycelium (sorry, bad mushroom joke!) we had heard they were appearing. The weather has been a bit warm but NSW did have quite a bit of rain this month so the chance of mushrooms was good.
What a treat it was, the Saffron Milk Caps were in abundance and there were many other eager mushroomers out in force. Lots of them not even making it into the forest but getting caught up early on the road by the beautiful orange fungi strewn across the pine needle floor.
The idea to get the first mushrooming tour going a little sooner than expected came when Bella and I both saw the large amount of Saffron Milk Cap heads breaking through the ground. The tour would be guaranteed to pick plenty of mushrooms the following week to keep everyone happy.
Done! A letter went out to all the families of Imogen’s school and before we knew it we had a fully booked tour.
With a 7:15 am call time to meet at Lane Cove, we then drove as a convoy to Belanglo to arrive there close to 9:00 – a full day of mushroom foraging lay ahead.
The ground was covered with Saffron Milk Caps, it was very easy to show everyone the ones to pick and as expected, the little heads we saw about to break through the ground the week prior were now perfect and meaty.
A few hours was spent mushrooming with everyone getting full baskets of Saffron Milk Caps. The kids had as much fun as the adults – maybe more, as there were some great big, muddy puddles with frogs that caught their attention while we re-fuelled with coffees back at the cars… Tip: You can’t ever have too many changes of clothes for the kids!
You don’t even need to come along to pick mushrooms, it’s great for artists…
Yabby catching didn’t work out to be as successful as mushroom foraging, but lots of fun was still had. I think only one was caught!
With all the families laying out their spread for lunch we got on to one of my favourite parts of the day and that is cooking what we had just foraged. Nothing beats being able to go out and gather your food and then to cook and eat it right there and then – such a hunter-gather feeling.
The favourite meal for lunch is sauteed mushrooms – sauté the thickly sliced pine mushrooms in some butter, season with salt and pepper and eat it with some beautiful bread. Eggs, both omelet and scrambled with chorizo or tomato just makes this meal into a feast. So very satisfying!
The kids had a ball and we know that each one of them will be back to do it again. A lovely experience that will also teach them the ins and out of mushroom foraging that will be with them for life.
The boys are nothing but tenacious when it comes to catching yabbies.
We had such a fantastic day and look forward to our next tour, along with all that lays ahead of us this year for FinSki’s… lots of new recipes, stories plus our glorious products for you to buy.
Happy FinSki’s… Blondie 🙂
Late April | 2012
Mushrooming day trip
There are still plenty of the Saffron Milk Caps around but nowhere near the amount of Slippery Jacks that we had at Oberon.
With its bright orange colour and firm meaty body, there is no confusing a Saffron Milk Cap / Pine Mushroom with any other kind of mushroom available here in Australia
After a few hours and a nice stash of mushrooms we headed to the clearing for lunch. What else could we have but a Pine Mushroom Omelette with avocado and a grating of vintage cheese. The kids go another chance at catching some yabbies.
19 April 2012 – Blondie and Bella’s Oberon weekend
It feels like I have been writing this particular blog post for a life time now! After several IT issues and life just getting in the way I am finally glad to be able to share it with you.
The last time I visited Oberon I must have been around 10 years old. It was during autumn when mum and dad took me and my brother Konrad on one of our mushroom picking expeditions. I had forgotten how beautiful the region was.
Blondie and I had promised ourselves that we would make our way to Oberon this mushroom picking season so it was just a matter of when. School holidays came up and we saw the perfect opportunity to skip town with the kids and see what all the fuss was about. The mushroom picking trips I was accustomed to were the type where upon entering the forest you would be greeted with a stack of mushrooms pocking their heads through the pine needles, looking up at you. You literally would not be able to move more than a few meters as there would be so many mushrooms to pick! It was a 3.5 hour trip, traffic was OK. (Note from the driver… Bella slept the first 1.5 hours!) Half way into the trip we stopped at Jen’s place (Blondie’s sister) in Woodford, who made the most amazing cinnamon tea cake. The stop was a good opportunity for the kids to stretch their legs before the next 1.5 hours.
We got into Oberon at about 1.30 pm and were greeted by forests galore. Oberon has 5 state forests that are nothing like the ones in the Southern Highlands. First stop was at the Oberon Tourist & Information Center where we were greeted by the lovely Lynne. Note to everyone – please make sure that you stop at the centre. Lynne will be able to give you excellent information about the area; you can pick up maps and get directions for where the best mushroom picking spots are. Maps in hand we checked into the Janolan Caravan Park and headed out for our afternoon reconnaissance mission… We headed down a very bumpy road and entered the forest. As we made the slow drive down the road my heart started to slowly sink, I saw one or two mushrooms but I was beginning to think that the trip would be a slight waste.
I had high hopes for this trip and was getting a little nervous. We drove a little further and turned a corner and whilst I wasn’t in mushroom heaven yet I was quietly happy. I was greeted by a couple of slippery jacks popping their heads through the pine needles. These are my favourite mushrooms! Mum makes the most awesome mushroom soup from these.
Within a few minutes I was in mushroom heaven! The forest floor was filled with slippery jacks. If we had a trailer I am sure we could have filled it!
With sun going down we decided to leave the forest and head back to the caravan park for a yummy dinner and some well-earned rest. As far as we were concerned then next day’s mushroom picking possibilities were endless! The next day we woke up to a beautiful frosty morning at the caravan park and had a delicious brekky before we set out for the days foraging.
Just before mushroom picking we took Sebastian and Imogen for precious stone fossicking at the Oberon Information Center. It was a bit of fun for the kids and both walked away with some special stones. It’s a gold coin contribution to enter the fossicking area but for a bit of fun and we highly recommend it if you have little ones.
It was time for more serious work…mushroom picking! Blondie and I worked each side of the road with the kids helping. The forest was filled with saffrons and slippery jacks so both of us were over the moon! Mushroom picking is a funny art, at first when you arrive at the forest you seem to see absolutely nothing, it’s not until you get down really low and pick the first mushroom that your eyes train themselves on the forest floor and you see what lies beneath. It took us about 3 hours to walk up what I now call mushroom road. We could barley move a few meters as there were so many mushrooms to pick! It was wonderful. They kids had an awesome time as well. We decided to call it a day at about 2pm with a car load of mushrooms! It was one of the best mushroom picking trips I had ever been on. The next week was spent drying, smoking, pickling and making paste from our beauties!
Tips on a mushroom picking trip to Oberon
- Be sure to call into the Oberon information centre and speak with Lynne. Call them a few days before you plan on leaving to ensure that you know the weather is right. The centre is located at 48 Ross Street Oberon NSW 2787
- If you are looking for a place to stay contact Sally from the Janolan Caves Caravan Park, it’s simple, clean and tidy. It’s a great place for that overnight stop. The caravan park is located at 7 Cunynghame Street Oberon NSW 2787
- Blondie and I live by the rule if in doubt, go without! If you are unsure about a mushroom species then don’t pick it!
Sadly the mushroom season is almost over! Blondie and I have a few more trips planned and look forward to sharing these with you in the next few weeks!
Sadly the mushroom season is almost over! Blondie and I have a few more trips planned and look forward to sharing these with you in the next few weeks!
Some more pretty pictures…
April 2012 | Mushrooming trip #2
We went for our second mushroom forage for this year, back to our usual spot at Belanglo.
Funny things you see on the way to mushrooming
Our first trip, about 3 weeks ago gave us a promising outlook for the season. Although there weren’t many, we did come across a decent selection of our favourites – Saffron Milk Caps and Slippery Jacks. Our thinking was that because there were quite a few so early in the season, that when we arrive this weekend there should be loads more… So wrong!
Our hopes were high as we turned into Daley’s Rd – we saw mushrooms, lots of mushrooms. They were mainly the poisonous red and white Fly Argaric, but they have usually been a very good indicator for a prosperous day of edible wild mushroom picking.
Incredibly beautiful but very poisonous the Fly Agaric Mushroom
We chose to pass our usual first pit stop at Daley’s Clearing and head straight to the area where we had scored quite well a few weeks back. Again, lots of mushrooms but not our ones.
Of interest though were the large amount of Brown Mushrooms. They had such a beautiful, full, earthy, mushroom aroma and were the same size and grew the same way as the Saffron Milk Caps.
Mushroom rule no.1 – If you don’t know it don’t use it
I collected two specimens and put them into isolation, hoping to learn what they were. I hated the idea of leaving behind such gorgeous mushrooms if they were edible – next time I will know!
Here is the ultimate of ‘do I or don’t I?’ Right at the entrance of a massive wombat hole is a perfect Saffron Milk Cap. Thoughts were, was it placed there by an evil wombat waiting to jump out just as I reach in to get it, or a practical joke TV show targeting unsuspecting mushroomers? It remains!
Lunchtime and we head back to Daley’s Clearing. It’s quite busy with families, and a large group there on an educational tour of mushrooming. My son hooked up with a large family who were kind enough to take him in and show him the ins and outs of fishing for yabbies.
Needless to say, yabbying will now have to be included on our mushrooming trips to Belanglo – the kids have demand it!
For our lunch, Bella had suggested just bringing some eggs with us this time – we have normally brought something like stew or mushroom pancakes etc, with us and cooked it over the portable stove top.
So I made a basic scramble egg and then sautéed some of the freshly foraged Saffron Milk Caps with butter, a herby salt and pepper. It was just heaven!
After lunch we heading to Penrose State Forest but it was more mushroom barren than Belanglo.
All in all, it was a low yielding mushroom trip but was probably one of our best trips to date.
Oh, and if anyone has any idea as to what the brown mushrooms are please let me know
Autumn 2011 | The beginning or our mushrooming odyssey
I was introduced to wild mushroom foraging by Bella and her parents early this autumn. Although it was something that mum grew up doing in Finland it wasn’t something that transferred over when she moved to Australia.
Bella and I had always planned mushroom picking trips but seasons came and went. Finally, one weekend in March when Bella’s parents were making their usual weekend trip we decided to join them.
With an early morning wake up we packed the kids, dog and rations and made the 1.5 hour drive down south to Belango State Forest in the Southern Highlands of NSW for our first mushroom foraging experience.
Bella’s parents have been picking mushrooms here for the last 25 years, along with a massive Polish contingent who seem to have made Belanglo’s pine plantation Poland away from Poland, which when you arrive are utterly grateful for as it is an infamous forest…
Knowing the horrors that have happened in this forest it really makes you want to take heed of this sign!
Driving into Daley’s Clearing we were both relieved to be greeted with an open area filled with families busily getting ready to set out for the day’s forage – baskets, knives and gloves at the ready. There were camp sites and caravans for the groups that chose to spend the weekend there either foraging through the forest for their mushrooms or simply dangling string with meat attached for the yabbies in the large dam.
Sebastian and Imogen eagerly absorbed the finer details of mushrooming and once they were told what to look for – and what to avoid – they were able to spot a pine mushroom from 100 paces. The kids loved being in the fresh pine air and were very inquisitive about every hole or insect they found.
This is Bella’s dad, dziadek to the kids (Polish for grandpa) showing Sebastian and Imogen one of the many wombat or fox holes inside the forest.
As both kids soon found out mushroom picking can be hard work and both worked up an appetite very quickly!
On search of the mushrooms:
Once you found one mushroom you started to see more, lots more hidden under the pine needles where these bright orange mushrooms grow. As they pushed through the dense layer of needles they showed obvious signs that they are there.
The mushrooms grow, protected under their blanket waiting to burst through the needles, which show as mounds or bumps under the pine forest floor that give the mushrooms away.
Brush away the pine needles and the bounty is revealed… Beautiful Pine Mushrooms aka Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms
From that weekend onwards it was just a matter of watching the weather, praying for a little rain and looking forward to another weekend of mushroom picking!
Seeing the mushrooms so fresh and bountiful it really is exciting foraging for your food.
Bella and I are already counting down the months to next year’s mushrooming season and are looking forward to experimenting with some lovely new recipes!