Ontario Matsutake: Ontario Pine Mushrooms

Today I want to talk to you about an amazing mushroom that is very misunderstood and almost completely unknown in Ontario. I’m talking about Tricholoma Magnivelare.
After about 10 years of foraging, I was finally able to travel far north and experience the Ontario Arctic. 
I stumbled across what I initially thought was a Lactarius Piperatus; however, upon further examination and a simple smell test, I knew I had something special in my hands. 

The smell, flavour, and texture of this mushroom is beyond words. When picked fresh and brought to your nose, this mushroom emits an incredible cinnamon aroma. I’m honoured to have had this opportunity: an encounter that very few have had the opportunity to experience in Ontario.I stumbled upon this amazing find in a Northern Ontario forest where I was searching for an old growth tree that had been marked on an ancient forest map. Encountering this mushroom was indescribably exciting. Every mushroom mentor and picker I know either believed these mushrooms didn’t exist in Ontario or that the region did not possess the conditions for them to produce fruiting bodies. 

Although it is true that Tricholoma Magnivelare do not fruit regularly in the province of Ontario due to generally unfavourable conditions, when the conditions are right, flushes and fruiting bodies can be located in the far northern regions of Ontario. Tricholoma Magnivelare associates in the east with sandy, poor soils and jack pine trees. It can be found paired with fruits on the tops of mountains, on hills, and on steep ledges with little pockets of duft. For Tricholoma Magnivelare to thrive, plenty of decomposed forest duft is essential. 

As you might expect, this mushroom can be very difficult to find. I have observed that it usually presents as emerging out of the top of a patch of moss if it is already open. Otherwise, Tricholoma Magnivelare might create a bulge in the moss, remaining concealed when they're still in the number one stage or have their veil closed.If the conditions are right, and you have been lucky enough to discover a location with the right mineral composition and the ideal bacterial and yeast present, the flushes can be absolutely huge. I've found as many as 40 matsutake in a single meter square. Although many believe that they are non-existent in Ontario, Tricholoma Magnivelare are actually quite prevalent when the conditions are favorable.
 A journey into the far reaches of Northeastern Ontario will allow you the opportunity to interact with this mushroom. My last foraging trip of this season to the far north was extremely successful. Cold snaps in the middle of August enabled the production of early fruiting bodies, resulting in huge flushes of pine mushrooms since approximately the middle of August. On my best day this year, 78 pounds of number ones were harvested, and 120 pounds of number two’s were harvested. 
When harvesting these mushrooms, be careful to avoid disturbing the forest floor as disturbances can affect future mushroom growth. These mushrooms are associated with older trees as their mycelium grows significantly slower than other mycorrhizal mushrooms. Tricholoma Magnivelare can take an extremely long time to establish before fruiting bodies will actually present themselves. I recommend looking at old growth forests of mixed red, white, and jackpine. Although less than 1% of the original forests exist, old-growth forests can be found in the far northern reaches of Ontario.
We will be offering this mushroom fresh delivered to your door in the 2021 season and will have dried matsutake mushrooms available for the winter of 2020.