9 Most Common Edible Mushrooms in Maine

9 Most Common Edible Mushrooms In Maine
Maine has hundreds of edible mushrooms, including chanterelles, puffballs, oysters, porcinis, and more. While all of New England is popular with foragers, Maine is especially bountiful, thanks to its inland forests full of oaks and hardwoods.

A List of Common Edible Wild Mushrooms in Maine

1. Smooth Chanterelle (Cantharellus species) and Black Trumpet (Craterellus species)

Highly sought-after chanterelle mushrooms range in color from yellow to red to black. They are vase-shaped and have ridges, not gills, on the underside of the cap.

Because they form a mycorrhizal relationship with the roots of trees, they are found in hardwood forests. They prefer moist, organic soil and shade. The best time to find them is in September and October.

The smooth, orange chanterelle has an apricot scent and fruity flavor with slight notes of pepper.

The black trumpet has a less intense fruity scent and tastes earthy and smokey, with a hint of fruitiness.

You can use chanterelles to make cream sauce, pasta, soup, and more.

I recommend the following recipes:

Watch our video on when and where to look for chanterelles.

2. Puffball (Lycoperdon and Calvatia species)

Maine has multiple puffball species. They are typically white and round and do not have gills. They vary from less than one inch wide to 59 inches wide.

You can easily find puffballs in open fields and golf courses. They are also common in hardwood and deciduous forests from later summer to early fall.

Puffball Mushroom
Puffball Mushroom

These mushrooms are edible before they develop spores, while the inside is still white. They have a mild scent and an earthy flavor with a firm, spongy texture.

This species quickly absorbs the flavor of a dish. You can use them in many recipes, including burgers, lasagna, and hummus.

I recommend the following recipe:

3. Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus species)

This unique mushroom almost feels like suede to the touch. It has no gills and is usually slightly over an inch thick.

You can easily spot it by its sulfur-yellow color and growth patterns. Its fruiting bodies grow in a shelf-like structure, typically on mature or dead oak trees between summer and fall.

Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the Woods

As its name suggests, it is a great stand-in for chicken in a recipe. It has an almost umami flavor with a hint of citrus.

Like the puffball, it absorbs the flavor of the other ingredients and sauce in a dish. You can use chicken of the woods to make sandwiches, coconut curry soup, and tacos.

I recommend the following recipe:

4. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus species)

The cap of this mushroom is usually tan but can also be white or gray. The flesh is thick and white, and there is no noticeable stem. They typically grow in large numbers and high up on the mature hardwoods.

Maine has multiple species of oyster mushrooms, but mushroom foraging experts say that the most delicious species are found in the fall, growing on sugar maple trees.

Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster Mushrooms

The oyster has a more complex flavor when compared to other mushrooms. It has a hint of seafood flavor mixed with anise. They are great to use in stroganoff, soup, and risotto.

I recommend the following recipe:

5. Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces species)

First, this is not a mushroom. It is a parasitic fungus that grows on mushrooms. Once infected, their exterior turns an orange-red color, resembling the shell of a lobster.

This parasite most commonly attacks milkcap mushrooms. It is uncertain if the parasite could overtake a toxic mushroom, but there is no proof of this happening so far. It is most prevalent in late summer to October and grows most often under hemlock trees.

Lobster Mushroom
Lobster Mushroom

After infection, the host mushrooms take on a nutty, sweet flavor that some foragers compare to lobster.

If you have an iodine intolerance, the lobster mushroom might cause a sickness similar to an allergic reaction. A few ways to eat this mushroom include bisque, tacos, and, of course, a lobster mushroom roll.

I recommend the following recipe:

6. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus species)

This unique species has a cylinder-shaped cap covered in scales. It has free gills and white flesh. The cap covers most of the stem and is primarily white, but the scales are light brown at the apex.

You can find the shaggy mane mushroom in parks, lawns, and grasslands. They appear in mid-summer until mid-fall. They will self-destruct if you don’t get to them quickly enough. When the gills start to turn black, the mushroom begins to digest itself and release black “ink.”

Shaggy mane
Shaggy Mane

The mushroom has a mild earthy flavor and a buttery texture when the gills are white or pink. The taste could easily be lost in a dish with many bold flavors. Using shaggy mane mushrooms in pasta, casserole, or savory mushroom waffles is best.

I recommend the following recipe:

7. Porcini (Boletus species)

Porcini means “piglet” in Italian, but that has nothing to do with the appearance or flavor of this mushroom. The brown cap grows between three and 12 inches wide and feels slightly sticky. The stem is very thick compared to the size of the cap.

This is a mycorrhizal fungus and grows in deciduous and coniferous forests, mainly near pine, hemlock, chestnut, or spruce trees. The best time to harvest them is between June and October.

Porcini have a robust and intense flavor. They are earthy and slightly nutty with a meaty texture.

They can be used in many different dishes, and their flavor usually won’t be overpowered by other ingredients. Many people use them as a pizza topping, with steaks, or to make a pâté.

I recommend the following recipe:

Watch our video on how to find, and identify king boletes (Boletus edulis)!

8. Matsutake (Tricholoma species)

It is considered an honor to receive this mushroom as a gift in Japan. It is a firm mushroom with white flesh. The cap is white with tan markings and between two and eight inches wide.

Even though their common name is pine mushroom, in Maine, the matsutake usually grows under hemlock trees, forming a mycorrhizal relationship with their roots. September and October are the best time to forage this mushroom.

Matsutake
Matsutake

This mushroom smells slightly pungent but with hints of cinnamon or pine. When they are cooked, the texture is crunchy, and they add a spicy element to a dish.

Simple dishes will allow their flavors to shine through. You can use matsutake to make rice dishes, tom ka soup, tempura, or chowder.

I recommend the following recipe:

9. Hen of the Woods (Grifola species)

Also known as maitake, this edible and medicinal mushroom is popular in Japan but is commonly found in Maine around labor day. It grows in clusters at the base of trees, usually oak trees. It is usually a gray-brown color with flattened caps, resembling the feathers of a sitting hen.

You can find hens of the woods in September and November at the base of mature oak trees. Once you find one, you should continue returning to that area, as they will likely continue growing there each season.

Hen of the Woods
Hen of the Woods

These mushrooms smell musky and earthy. When cooked, they have a typical earthy mushroom flavor with a hint of pepper.

The texture is slightly crunchy. There are many ways to eat this mushroom. You can use fry or sauté them or use them in recipes such as ramen, vegan steak, or pasta.

I recommend the following recipe:

*When mushroom hunting in Maine, it is also possible to find morels, but they are not as common as other mushrooms.

Poisonous Mushrooms in Maine

1. Eastern Jack O’Lantern (Omphalotus species)

This mushroom looks like a chanterelle to the untrained eye. The orange color of the jack o’lantern mushroom is brighter and supposedly glows in the dark. This species also has no distinctive scent.

Another significant difference is that jack o’lanterns grow on decaying wood. Luckily, if you ingest these mushrooms, they will not cause death, but you will experience vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset.

2. Eastern Destroying Angel (Amanita species)

The destroying angel is a white mushroom whose cap can be up to four inches wide. The stem can grow up to five and a half inches tall. Most notably, the gills don’t attach to the stem, and there is a small skirt-like ring under the cap.

You can find it in cultivated landscapes near oak and hardwood forests. As the name suggests, it is deadly. The initial symptoms are similar to cholera and begin approximately 15 hours after ingestion. Liver and kidney damage eventually lead to death.

3. Pigskin Poison Puffball (Scleroderma species)

This mushroom is actually an earthball, not a puffball, as its common name suggests. It looks similar to a common puffball but is very firm to the touch.

Pigskin puffball grows near trees and on wood debris. If you consume it, it will not kill you, but it will cause severe gastrointestinal discomfort.

4. Bolete (Boletus species)

Boletus huronensis looks very similar to the delicious King Bolete mushroom. B. huronensis has pale yellow flesh that turns blue when bruised and no veining on the stalk.

This mushroom grows near hemlock in Maine. Aside from nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain, ingesting this mushroom also causes intense weakness.

What to Keep in Mind As You Forage

Whether you are a first-time forager or a veteran, mushroom identification and general conservation are crucial.

To avoid collecting a dangerous look-alike, learn to make a spore print before your first adventure.

Check our video on the 7 most poisonous mushrooms growing in the US (mushroom details and ingestion symptoms included)!

Other than that, here are a few other things to remember:

  • Always know where you are going and precisely what you are looking for.
  • Forage mushrooms from clean, unpolluted areas.
  • Cut mushrooms from the base. Pulling them from the ground can damage the mycelium.
  • Know which species you can eat raw and which you can’t. If you are unsure, cook it.
  • Bring a field guide and download a mushroom identification app.
  • Harvest conservatively.
  • Leave nature equally as clean or cleaner than you found it.
  • Check local laws. Some areas are off-limits, and others require permits.

New England is a haven for mushroom foraging. Maine has become so famous as a mushroom haven that there’s even a fungi festival in Portland each year.

During the pandemic, the number of members of the Maine mycological association tripled, now hosting approximately 300 foragers.

If you are interested in learning more about foraging, and mushrooms, the association hosts meetings, guest speakers, and field trips.

Sami

Originally from Florida, but with a lust for travel, Sami has found herself in many remote areas with little-to-no access to traditional medicines. Since 2014, she has been experimenting with natural remedies, eastern medicine, and foraging. She believes that the Earth provides us with everything we need to live, heal, and cure.

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