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Thanksgiving mushroom foraging in Tofino

Mushroom foraging is an enjoyable pastime and can greatly enrich an appreciation for the wonders of the rain forest.

Autumn rainfall brings fall mushrooms to Tofino. Foragers are now venturing into the woods to find tasty treasures hidden among the deadfalls, ferns, moss and foliage.

The most sought after fungi include: Cauliflower Mushroom, Chicken of the Woods, Hedgehog Mushroom, King Bolete, Admirable Bolete, Chanterelle, Saffron Milk Cap, Shaggy Mane and Pine Mushroom.

tofino mushroom forage   tofino mushroom forage Chanterelle

Mushroom foraging in Tofino is growing in popularity for a number reasons, including: the opportunity to explore the coastal rain forests; the challenge of seeking out, identifying and harvesting wild culinary flora; the potential for a delicious meal made from foraged ingredients.

However, there are several significant challenges and an etiquette forages should observe to ensure their first forage is not their last.

Identifying safe mushrooms

The consequences of making a wrong guess or a misidentification about whether a mushroom is edible can be severe. The help of an experienced forager is the best way to learn the art of identification and safe harvesting.

Protect the forest and fungi

Foragers must do their best to minimize their impact to the actual fungus and forest. Work hard to avoid disturbing the ground habitat. Do not use rakes, dogs or pigs to dig mushrooms and when extracting, pop or cut at or above ground level so as not to damage the mushroom’s subsurface structures. Once again, an experienced forager is the best guide on proper protocol and harvesting methods.

Mushrooms of the West Coast

This Thanksgiving Weekend (October 9-11, 2015), instructors Andy MacKinnon and Erin Feldman, in conjunction with Ian Riddick, Executive Chef at the Great Room at Long Beach Lodge Resort and the Raincoast Education Society will offer a three-day field-course (Friday evening until Sunday noon) that will introduce participants to the wonderful world of west coast mushrooms.

Topics to be covered include:
  • Introduction to fungi - what are they, and what is their role in our forests?
  • Essentials of collecting and identifying fungi in the field
  • Edible, medicinal and poisonous fungi
  • Cooking with wild mushrooms

The itinerary is comprehensive and promises to be very informative and engaging:

Friday - Introductory presentation for mushroom course participants - overview of wild mushrooms, different fungus groups, role of fungi in ecosystems and mushroom identification.
Mushroom foraging in Tofino
Saturday - Field collection of wild mushrooms at field site. Sorting of mushroom collections, spore prints, microscope ID session. Cooking wild mushrooms with Chef Ian Riddick, Executive Chef at the Great Room at Long Beach Lodge Resort. That Mushroom looks delicious! Will it kill me?

Sunday - Field collection and identification of wild mushrooms at field site. Group lunch and course wrap-up.

Andy MacKinnon is a forest ecologist with the BC Forest Service in Victoria. His fields of study include BC's native plants, fungi and lichens. Andy is co-author of six field guides to plants of western North America. Erin Feldman is a graduate student completing her MSc in mycology at the University of British Columbia.

Course Registration is $240 per person, and includes lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Register online HERE.

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