The Mushroom Guy
In May of 2020, our business was still like that baby you’re excited about but also hadn’t exactly planned for. (I’m lookin’ at you, 4th kid.) We weren’t sure which direction we would move in, but we knew that it had to involve selling foraged mushrooms. In fact, Jordan was so devoted to becoming a certified forager that he was able to sit through two days of online classes. (Something I will most likely never witness again.)
He was still baby-faced, working the prep station in a Philly restaurant, when he had his first oyster mushroom. Until then, button mushrooms had been the extent of his fungi education, and all he knew was that he hated them. But the oysters were different.
As he rose up the greased pole of the Philadelphia restaurant scene, his interest in wild mushrooms grew, and he discovered a large variety of flavors and textures.
His least favorite thing to hear people say is that they hate mushrooms. He believes the diversity includes something for almost everyone and supermarket mushrooms shouldn’t be the bland spokesperson of the edible fungi world.
Moving to the Adirondacks offered an opportunity to find those rare, wild ingredients he’d often worked with in city kitchens in...well...the wild. Besides direct access to fruiting mycelium, foraging also gave him solace and the movement to think clearly. Foraging is church, he says, and the feeling of finding a new mushroom patch never gets old.
“There have been so many times I’ve been in the middle of the woods and screamed out
‘F--- yeah!’" It’s like the forest is accepting him and offering a little gift, as long as he doesn’t tell the tourists.
He does follow strict moral codes, like Don’t Be A Jerk and Take Every Mushroom, Be Respectful of Other People’s Spots, and *Always Cut the Damn Ramps.
Fungus is rad, and likely the most bad-ass biological thing to exist besides the narwhal, but it’s not the only thing you can forage. Jordan also scouts for ramps, fiddleheads, spruce tips, and juniper berries, all of which are common here.
Still, his favorite delicacies to forage are maitake and morels. Not only are their flavors deep and their textures meaty, they’re also a challenge. And what’s more motivating than competition? Or free food? Competition for free food, probably.
Jordan spends his winter months scouting out trees on his daily routes, cataloging those that would most likely harbor the hard-to-find specimens.
His advice to those interested in foraging is to go with someone who is experienced and to use the internet as much as possible. While he encourages the use of books and field guides, he says that information about fungi is always in flux and the most up-to-date knowledge will be online, not in a book. He may get push-back on that advice, he says, but in true Jordan fashion he just shrugs it off.
If you want to skip the research and grab an expert, he’ll be offering foraging walks come the end of May and through October. Details can be found here, and you can always email us for further information. Or if you also love mushrooms and wish to extend a virtual high-five. We’re not picky.
Now grab your pack basket or mesh bag or hat because you forgot the first two and get hunting!
*Many harvesters of ramps tend to break the bulb from the rhizome and roots. While the bulb is edible, Jordan believes leaving it all in the ground and only harvesting leaves of plants that are fully-matured is key to keeping patches from thinning out. These plants take years to mature, so it’s important to harvest sustainably.