Hunting for mushrooms in Whatcom County

You know that mushroom season is upon us when rainstorms become a normal part of the weekly forecast. Crisp morning breezes bring with them a bite of chill along with the scent of decaying leaves and wet soil.

In my view, it’s no coincidence that mushrooms begin springing up just as northwesterners’ gastronomic thoughts migrate from park-side barbecues to hearty stews and savory comfort foods. Mushrooms are an essential part of any fall menu, and at this time of year in our corner of Cascadia, the abundance begins in earnest.


Photo courtesy of Alex Winstead of Cascadia Mushrooms.

Chanterelles entice many people into local forests with basket and pocket knife. Lobster mushrooms light up the forest floor with their red-orange blaze. Porcini poke their little porky heads just above the soil surface in the sub-alpine forests for a lucky hiker to find. Matsutake stay hidden save from a fortunate few who know where to find their elusive spicy aroma and abalone-like texture.

Of course, these all complement the delectable offerings that are farmed year-round in Whatcom County.

Opportunities abound to learn more about our fine fungal neighbors during their brief appearance in our forests.

Sunday, October 16 heralds the Northwest Mushroomers Association’s annual Wild Mushroom Show at Bloedel Donovan Park in Bellingham. See displays of nearly all the wild mushrooms that can be found in the area arranged in lifelike habitats and identified by experts with their common and scientific names as well as designating which ones are edible, poisonous or just innocuous mushrooms to be admired.

Attendees will find exhibits for kids of all ages and presentations by local experts in the field. Delicious mushrooms will be expertly prepared by club members throughout the event. Admission is free to members, $5 general admission and $3 for students and seniors.

Join us at Cascadia Mushrooms for a couple of hands-on mushroom workshops in October and November: October 22 we will host a mushroom growing workshop at our farm in North Bellingham. Participants will learn all about how to become mushroom gardeners at their own home with several projects to take away and get started. On November 5, we’ll be taking a small group of mycological enthusiasts into the woods to learn the art and practice of mushroom hunting.

We will discuss identification of common species, ethical harvesting practices, handling techniques, and cook up whatever delicious bounty of edible species we find. Classes are $75 each or register for both for $120. More information and registration is available at

Whether you choose to enjoy the season by diving in and getting dirty in the woods while foraging your dinner, or if you prefer to sample your woodland delights from the comfort of one of Whatcom County’s fine fungal-friendly dining establishments, remember that the rain and cool weather are the reason for this abundance. So say “welcome” to fall and give thanks for the rain!

Courtesy of Alex Winstead of Cascadia Mushrooms.

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