Mushroom Harvesting in Northern Quebec

“Summer” Vacation in Northwestern Quebec

mushroom harvesting

In late August, Chris, my sister, her husband Gord, and I traveled to lake country in Northwestern Quebec to stay at Gord’s family cottage.  It took over eight hours just to get to the other side of Canada (actually… not even the other side!) from Vancouver, where we live, so we were exhausted.

As we neared their property, driving down a bumpy dirt road at 2 a.m., I stared out the window trying to stay awake and get a sense of where we were. I began to notice a series of what look liked small white dots scattered along plants shooting up on the side of the dirt road.

Maybe I was hallucinating.

Suddenly, it dawned on me.

They were all mushrooms.

Hundreds of them!

Mushroom season was upon us!

Maybe leaving behind the balmy, sunny 28 degree heat in Vancouver for the cool, rainy 15 degrees here wouldn’t be so bad!

Let The Mushroom Harvest Begin

mushroom harvesting
Morning View on Lake Kipiwa

If you didn’t already know, Chris and I recently got into foraging. We absolutely love getting into the outdoors to explore new territory and participate in what we consider to be an adult Easter egg hunt. When you find a delicious mushroom, you can’t help but feel like a giddy little kid again.

Eager to see what was hidden in this new, undiscovered land, we woke up early the next day to the mushroom-friendly smell of dew and a fresh rainfall. The grey skies cleared as, we warmed up inside the main cabin with coffee and breakfast in front of the fire, then packed a our foraging kit: a paring knife, a basket, and a couple of beers.

Unfamiliar with the landscape and mushroom varieties of the in this area, we didn’t expect to find much. 

Our expectations were low.

But our hopes were high!

The Easter Bunny Came Early (…or Late?)

mushroom harvesting
Megan and her Easter eggs

Within 45 minutes, we had collected a basket FULL of edible mushrooms – mostly chanterelles.

Thank-you rain and colder than usual temperatures!

Chanterelles are a choice mushroom and are highly sought after among chefs and mushroom lovers. They have an apricot nose, and soft, buttery texture.

You can find them at speciality grocery stores, farmers markets for about $14-$20/lb. or, like we did…in the wild!

 Being high in protein and vitamins, their wonderful nutty umami quality makes them a great addition to any dish.

We found lots of golden chanterelles (my favourites) as well as some lobsters (Chris’ favourite) and another type of chanterelle we’d never seen before. We thought, or hoped, they’d be just as tasty as the golden chanterelles, but upon returning and checking the guidebook we discovered they were called woody chanterelles can give some people severe gastrointestinal pain. Some of us were willing to take the risk, but the others (wisely I believe) convinced them otherwise.

mushroom harvesting
Preparing the lobster and chanterelles for cooking!

Over the weekend I can estimate we collected over 7lbs of edible mushrooms not including the Chaga which I’ll get to in a later post. It got me very excited for the mushroom season in Vancouver (the mushrooms, not the rain).

We’re headed up to Pemberton this weekend to do some foraging. Fingers crossed the small amount of forecasted precipitation will bring some fruiting and interesting finds.

Where To Start?

If you’re in the Vancouver area, check out the workshops and tours offered by Museum Eats with Camille (she’s awesome and super knowledegable). There’s also an upcoming mushroom festival in Whistler called the Fungus Amoung Us Festival happening October 14+15. More information available on their Facebook event page.

Comment below with your favourite mushrooms stories! We’d love to hear from you.

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Chris and Kim

Kim and Chris are on a mission to eradicate boringness by feeding their curiosity and fighting complacency. Discover the extraordinary and join thousands of others every month with The Unconventional Monthly.

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