Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Mushroom Hunting Adventure at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch

“You know what’s cool about mushrooms? You can’t just pick any old mushroom off the ground,” tells me Gary Goldman, the mushroom expert. We should be cautious because some mushrooms are nasty and can mess with our bodies. They can damage our liver, kidneys, and even cause spasms and death. So, let’s be smart and learn which mushrooms are good and which ones are bad. And who better to show us the way than The Mushroom Hunter himself? He’s got this uncanny ability to smell a mushroom and instantly identify if it’s a Porcini.”

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

When I got to Delheim Wine Estate for a mushroom forage during their annual Mushroom Week (usually in mid-June), I had no idea how fascinating fungi could be! The first thing we did was have a lesson about mushrooms in the VAT cellar, led by Gary. He taught us about the different types of mushrooms, both the good ones and the bad ones. He also told us about their medicinal properties and when the best time is to find them. He even showed us how to clean, store, and cook mushrooms. It felt a bit like being in school with the slide show and all the notes, but I have to say, it was the most interesting lesson I’ve had in years. I learned so many cool things, but here are a few that I found especially fascinating:

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

  • I’m going to tell you about the amazing life cycle of the Field mushroom. It goes through three different stages of growth – first it’s a small Button mushroom, then it becomes a Porcini mushroom, and finally it transforms into a Black Mushroom.
  • Did you know that you can often tell if a mushroom is safe to eat based on the color of its gills? A mushroom with pink or brown gills, or even a sponge-like texture, is generally edible. However, if a mushroom has white gills, it’s best to avoid eating it to be on the safe side.
  • Here’s a fascinating fact: the Shaggy Ink-Cap mushroom not only produces edible ink, but it can also be used as a painting or drawing tool. However, it’s important not to consume alcohol when consuming this mushroom.
  • Have you ever heard of the Artist’s Conk mushroom? It’s a unique mushroom that grows on trees and has a fan-like shape. Artists often use it as a drawing medium because when you rub or scratch its surface, it changes color from light to dark brown, creating visible lines and shading.

I’ve got some fascinating mushroom facts to share with you! Did you know that mushrooms can be both delicious and potentially deadly? It all depends on how they’re prepared and which type you encounter. Let’s dive in and explore some interesting mushroom species together:

First up, we have the Blusher mushroom. This little guy is poisonous if you eat it raw, but fear not! Once cooked, it becomes a scrumptious treat that’s safe for you to enjoy. Just make sure you give it a good cook before digging in.

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Next on our list is the Chicken In The Woods mushroom. Now, this one is a culinary delight! It tastes so much like chicken that even Gary’s cats have been known to have squabbles over it. Imagine that! It’s like having a vegetarian version of chicken right in the forest.

Now, hold onto your hats because we have the Death Cap mushroom. This one lives up to its name. It’s incredibly poisonous and is responsible for the majority of mushroom-related deaths. Yikes! Definitely avoid this one if you come across it on your foraging adventures.

Moving on, we have the Dye Ball mushroom. This little fungus has a fun trick up its sleeve – it can dye wool purple! Imagine stumbling upon one of these while out in nature and discovering its vibrant color-changing abilities. It’s like nature’s very own tie-dye machine.

Finally, we have the Red Stinkhorn mushroom. Prepare yourself for a rather unsettling sight and smell. These mushrooms look like octopuses and emit a pungent odor reminiscent of rotting meat or sewerage. Not the most pleasant of scents, but it’s certainly a unique find!

So there you have it, a glimpse into the fascinating world of mushrooms. Remember, when it comes to these curious fungi, it’s all about knowing which ones are safe to eat and which ones to admire from a distance. Happy mushroom discovering!

I’ve got this favorite mushroom called the Fly Agaric. It’s not magical, but I love it because it looks like something out of a fairytale with its red cap and white spots. You wouldn’t want to eat it, though. It’s actually a natural poison for flies. If you put a piece of dried Fly Agaric in a saucer of milk, you’ll see the flies swarm to it and then drop dead. Sadly, other curious creatures like pets might go after it too, so be careful and keep it out of their reach.

Now, let’s talk about different bracket fungi that have medicinal properties. There’s the Oyster mushroom, which can lower cholesterol. Then there’s the Shitake mushroom, which not only lowers cholesterol but can also stop tumors if caught early. And lastly, we have the Split-Gill mushroom, which has anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. These mushrooms are pretty impressive, don’t you think?

I can give you some useful tips on cleaning mushrooms properly. To begin, mushrooms should be cleaned under a running tap rather than soaked in water, as they have a tendency to absorb liquids very easily.

  • Porcini mushrooms are widely regarded as one of the most sought-after and valuable types of mushrooms in the world. In fact, in the UK, they can sell for up to 250 pounds per kilogram! To preserve them, you can choose to dry them in the sun or seal them in a biscuit tin and freeze them for up to 30 years.
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After our lesson on spotting mushrooms, it was time to head out into Delheim’s forest to forage for them. Some of us came prepared with baskets and bags to store our mushroom finds, while others were just eager to pick any mushrooms they could find. Not long into our forest adventure, Gary, our guide, pointed out the first mushroom peeping out from beneath a pile of leaves in the vineyards. From that point on, Gary was bombarded with questions about the various mushrooms we encountered in the forest.

More often than not, the mushrooms we found were inedible. There were plenty of Brown Knightley mushrooms, which Gary affectionately referred to as “Brown Knightley weapons.” We also stumbled upon quite a few Little Brown Mushrooms (LBMs), which were also not fit for consumption. However, the highlight of the day was stumbling upon the vibrant and photogenic Fly Agaric mushrooms. The real treasure, though, was discovering the Pine-Ring mushrooms (also known as Red Pine mushrooms). These mushrooms are not only aesthetically pleasing but also quite delicious when cooked. You can easily identify them by their carrot-colored milk, which is released when you crush them.

Throughout our mushroom-hunting expedition, Gary exhibited incredible patience and was always willing to help those who made exciting finds or point out locations where we could find more Pine-Ring mushrooms. He truly was a dedicated teacher and a wealth of knowledge.

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

After exploring the beautiful garden, it was time for a delicious lunch at Delheim’s Garden Restaurant. I couldn’t wait to dig into the mushroom-infused four-course menu, which was perfectly paired with Delheim’s wonderful wines.

For starters, we were treated to the Delheim Mushroom Platter. It consisted of a delightful mushroom soup served in a teacup and accompanied by a refreshing shimeji & papino salad, as well as a vibrant spinach and shitake salad. We also enjoyed some homemade bread topped with a creamy mushroom pâté.

As for the main course, I couldn’t resist indulging in the springbok venison and pine-ring mushroom stew. The flavors were incredible, and it was a dish unlike any I had ever tasted before. Other guests at our table opted for the boletus mushroom risotto and the exotic mushroom and chicken tagliatelle, both of which received rave reviews.

But the feast didn’t end there. We were treated to a decadent mascarpone cheese cake for dessert, which was the perfect way to end the meal. And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, we were presented with mushroom and apricot biscotti to enjoy with our coffee.

If all this talk of delicious food has made you hungry, don’t worry! I’ll be sharing some of these fantastic recipes soon, so you can try them out for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

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Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

The Delheim Wild Mushroom Forage is now in its fourth year, and it only costs R250 for the whole day, including lunch. If you’re a mushroom lover like me and you want to try your hand at foraging in the beautiful Newlands Forest, then I highly recommend this event. Before attending, I had only ever cooked with basic mushrooms like button or black mushrooms. The idea of finding and cooking a Pine-Ring mushroom would have scared me off. But now, I’m already planning my next adventure of picking porcini mushrooms. Gary, our guide, shared a great tip on where to find them in abundance, and it’s not too far from where I live. However, I won’t spoil the surprise and give away the secret location. You’ll have to join the next foraging excursion to discover it for yourself!

Just a heads up:
Keep in mind that this workshop won’t make you a mushroom expert. I can’t really tell you how to distinguish between a Panther mushroom and a Blusher mushroom (except that one’s dangerous and the other’s safe to eat). So if you’re unsure or have any questions, it’s best to ask Gary. Remember, as they say, “There are experienced mushroom hunters, and there are daring mushroom hunters, but not both.” Don’t risk it!

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

Get in touch with Gary Goldman

If you want to contact me, The Mushroom Hunter, you can give me a call at 073-936-2378, email me at [email protected], or visit my website at www.mushroomguru.co.za.

Mushroom recipes straight from Delheim

Delheim has graciously shared a few of their mushroom recipes with us, and I’m excited to share them with you over the next couple of weeks!

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

Jazzy Cheese Fondue at Delheim Wine Estate

Hey there! Have you heard about the amazing Jazzy Cheese Fondue happening at Delheim Wine Estate? If you missed out on the mushroom extravaganza, don’t worry because they have something equally delectable – Jazzy Cheese Fondues! Mark your calendars from 7th July to 28th August 2013, because that’s when this cheesy goodness will be available.

Picture this – steaming pots of Swiss fondue, award-winning estate wines, and the soulful tunes of the Pierre-Henri Wicomb Jazz Trio. It’s an experience that’ll make your taste buds dance with delight! Just for R150 per person, you can indulge in the ultimate cheese-lover’s dream.

Now, here’s the catch – booking is essential! Make sure you call 021-888-4607 or send an email to [email protected] to secure your spot. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this cheesy extravaganza!

If you want to learn more about Delheim Wine Estate and the Jazzy Cheese Fondue event, head over to their website www.delheim.com.

Mushroom foraging at Delheim Wine Estate in Stellenbosch MzansiBride

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