The summer sun seems to be a distant memory as gales and rain sweep across the sky, but I love the British seasons. I look forward to the autumn colours, but most of all the excited anticipation of wild mushrooms. The excitement stems from the fact that nothing is guarenteed – you may think that conditions are perfect for ceps and chanterelles as you put your boots on and head into the woods, but after 4 hours of trudging around you may come back with a sore neck and two old field mushrooms that barely cover half a slice of toast. On other days, a furtive glimpse into the undergrowth might reveal the most delicious haul of fungi.
It is still a bit early, but the conditions seem to be good for this year for mushrooms: a cold spring, warm dry summer, and now a bit of rain to encourage them out. We have seen plenty of field mushrooms which are popping up everywhere. They are great for breakfast, make a scrummy soup and a perfect accompaniement with a venison steak. However it is the cep (porcini or penny bun) that really gets the gastric juices flowing. They are easier to identify than many mushrooms as they belong to the Bolete family and do not have gills like most mushrooms, but sponge underneath the cap. They stem is often as thick as the cap is, chunky, dense and delicioiusly nutty. They like mature woodland and should start appearing soon. As long as we have rain and a bit of warmth, they should keep coming until the first frosts. If I find any, I will let you know, but do pop into the shop with your finds. Otherwise check out Rogers Mushrooms for the definitive guide.