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East Bay's Wild Mushrooms

Forage for wild mushrooms in the regional forests.


Photo by Mitch Tobias

The arrival of the rainy season means a veritable feast of wild mushrooms are waiting to be harvested in the East Bay’s oak and pine forests—especially for a skilled forager.

Porcini mushrooms, prized for their meaty texture and rich flavor, are among the delicacies that grow wild locally, says Kevin Feinstein, a Walnut Creek educator and naturalist who leads mushroom foraging forays in late autumn and early winter. Cauliflower mushrooms—one of Feinstein’s personal favorites—can occasionally be found in the region, too.

But the area around Mount Diablo is especially good for golden chanterelles and candy cap mushrooms. “They are abundant and delicious,” says Feinstein.

Both mushrooms are relatively easy to identify once you know what to look—or smell—for. Chanterelles are trumpet shaped and have a vibrant golden-orange color. Candy caps emit a distinct maple syrup aroma. They’re often used to flavor cookies, ice cream, and other sweet treats. They are equally tasty in a simple sauté, according to Feinstein.

“The smell is one of the things that makes you sure of your identification with candy caps,” says Feinstein. “If in doubt, throw it out.”

For safe mushroom gathering—and to be sure you’re collecting where it’s permitted—tag along on a guided foray. And never eat any wild mushrooms that haven’t been identified by an expert. feralkevin.com.

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