Like Lion’s Mane that I wrote about last year, Black Trumpet mushrooms are easy for the novice forager to identify because they don’t have any toxic look-a-likes. Plus, like Lion’s Mane they are absolutely delicious: earthy, aromatic and deeply flavorful, possibly one of the best smelling and tasting mushrooms out of all the top edibles.
To the layman, they could possibly look like, perhaps Devil’s Urn, little, round cups that grow on rotting wood but even then, the Devil’s Urn only appears in spring. Wood Ear could also be considered similar, but wood ear looks like, well, a brownish/black, flattened ear. There are black boletes, but they have pores not gills. It should be noted here that if you’re going to learn about mushrooms, a pocket guide is essential and you should have a good few year’s worth of mushroom-hunting experience before you start thinking about eating anything without at least two positive ID’s from experts. A novice should always have a mentor. Plus, most important, mushrooms affect people in different ways. Some people can’t even tolerate edible mushrooms and you may have an allergy of which you are unaware.
Here in the Catskills, foraging is an important past-time and information is swapped and offered among neighbors and passed down generations. Foraging is one way to reduce your carbon footprint. You are basically walking through the forest to find something to eat.
Black Trumpets appear in the summer through fall. They are five or six inches tall, hollow, black funnel-shaped mushrooms that spring from the forest floor, not on rotting wood. They feel like velvet on the inside and have low, barely discernible, almost flat, ridges, that run length-wise on the outside. You can put your finger all the way into the hollow funnel shape. Sometimes the top of the trumpet has not yet flopped out like the ones pictured above have. The difficulty is in spotting them. They are very easy to miss because they blend in so well with their background. They grow from the ground in hummus and leaf litter under oak or beech trees. Black Trumpets are a relation of the Chanterelle and they have a distinctive strong, earthy, fruity aroma, smelling rather like a lump of jammy soil.
Black Trumpets are very delicate and only require a minute of light frying in butter to cook and they reduce drastically in volume when they are cooked. When you harvest, don’t pull the whole mushroom up. Cut about a half-inch above the ground with a knife, so you don’t introduce too much dirt into your bag of mushrooms. Clean them well in cold water as they can get dirty and they will split apart – almost into ribbons – once they are thoroughly cleaned, so no need to chop them when cooking.
Black Trumpet Sauce Base
One tablespoon chopped onion
One small clove of chopped garlic
Two cups of Black Trumpet mushroom (washed)
Two tablespoons of butter
Fry the onion and garlic in the butter until transparent and sizzling. Turn down the heat and add the mushrooms and fry gently while stirring for about a minute.