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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2011
www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2011 16 Oberon's magical mushrooms by Melissa Humphrey Hieroglyphics found in the tombs of the Pharaohs suggest that the ancient Egyptians believed the mushroom to be "the plant of immortality." The mushroom's distinct flavour so intoxicated these demi-gods, that they decreed mushrooms to be food for royalty alone, and prohibited any commoner from handling the delicacies. You don't have to be royalty alone today though to go wild mushroom foraging in the State Forests around the township of Oberon, in the Blue Mountains region. The 40,000 plus hectares of plantation pine forest surrounding Oberon provide an ideal environment for exotic wood mushrooms - prized in Europe and coveted by top Sydney restaurants. The spores of the mushrooms were introduced from Europe along with the pine tree seedlings. From March through to early May, the edible Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus) and Slippery Jack (Pine Bolete) varieties emerge to be picked. The Saffron Milk Caps have a limited season and a short shelf-life and command a high price on the gourmet food market. They're well regarded as gourmet mushrooms as their taste is quite sweet and the texture is fleshier than regular button mushrooms. The Slippery Jack is quite common in the forests and is a nice mid-brown colour across the cap, yellow underneath and has a sticky, gelatinous feel. Availability of the mushrooms is determined by the weather and sufficient rain so it's recommended to visit the Oberon Visitor Information Centre before you venture into the pines. The team at the centre can provide you with an information leaflet on how to identify the edible mushrooms, some handy safety tips for and advice on where the best location in the forests are to forage. They even recommend that after gathering your haul you pop back in to see them so they can help identify your selection. If it is your first forage, it is strongly advised that you seek out an experienced mushroomer to obtain in-the-field guidance. Remember: Always harvest your mushrooms with a knife so they can re-generate and when picking mushrooms -- WHEN IN DOUBT about their edibility THROW IT OUT. Mushrooming Tips • Don't Pick Alone. Use a buddy system to pick in pairs or a group of three. Maintain visual contact with your buddy while picking. Check visual contact every couple of minutes. If you lose visual contact, use voice contact to re-establish visual contact. • Park your vehicle at an intersection and close to the roadside. Concentrate on picking one block of pines, then return to the vehicle. When all pickers have regrouped, move on to the next block of pines, and so on. • Stay away from areas where trees are being felled. • Wear bright clothes to help maintain visual contact with each other. • Wear a watch and be aware of when sunset is and allow enough time to get back to the car. Remember, it is difficult to see the sun from deep in a pine forest. • Wear or carry warm clothing. Mountain weather is unpredictable. It can change with little warning. Welcome to Katoomba! The quirky home of traditional shopping, it's also the place where breathtaking natural scenery, history, the arts, and café culture merge, making it a fascinating place to explore at a leisurely pace---on foot. To get the most out of your visit to Katoomba, grab a "Katoomba's Heritage and Art Walk" map from one of the shops in Katoomba Street. It will help you appreciate the historic buildings, murals, festivals, "slow food" restaurants and picnic spots. It will tell you where to find a Tofu Burger, handmade Chocolates, Cherry Strudel, handmade Sushi, excellent Coffee from fresh-roasted beans, Sourdough Bread, Cardamon Cake, and steamed Dim Sims. The brochure/map is an initiative of Katoomba Chamber of Commerce and Community. Katoomba supports energy descent: • Minimal use of plastics and disposables in our businesses • Use of local products wherever possible, reducing food miles and packaging, paper or cloth bags for our shoppers • Development of car free tourism experiences. email@example.com