It was with great excitement that Brigitte and I headed out to Sipoonkorpi National Park early on a chilly Saturday morning. We were part of a group of mushroom-hunters from our church – having been in a different section of Sipoonkorpi a few weeks earlier I knew that we’d have an interesting time, especially since we had two very experienced locals teaching about the mushrooms.
It was surprisingly easy to reach the reserve from central Helsinki – we hopped on the 741 bus, transferring to the 3 bus at Hakunila which took us into the heart of the park. The we had an interesting experience on the 3 bus – we were waved off the road by a man while travelling down a little back road… all us foreigners were a bit confused and concerned – had something bad happened and he needed help? Nope… he’d harvested his apples and wanted to share his surplus. So he brought a big pallet of apples for us! We were able to take all the apples we wanted and the bus driver then returned the plastic container to the man later that day… only a few kilometers outside of Helsinki it is a very different place! It was a great start to the trip (Brigitte cooked the apples into a crumble three days later… very tasty!).
In Sipoonkorpi we split into two groups and picked up lots of good mushrooming tips from our two guides. Our group struggled to find mushrooms initially, but by lunchtime we had nearly filled the containers we’d brought. On that note, a good tip is that you should rather bring a bucket or basket than a plastic bag when mushrooming since the mushrooms transport better when they can breathe. After lunch half of our group headed back to town, but Brigitte and I wanted to try and find a few more mushrooms to add to our harvest so we stayed with the other group. It was a good choice as we ended up filling our remaining containers and nearly filling our spare bag too! We collected a lot of Suppilovahvero (the Funnel Chanterelle; Cantharellus tubaeformis), as well as some Hedgehogs (Rusko-orakas; Hydnum rufescens) and a few large Porcini (Herkkutati; Boletus edulis).
Brigitte cooked some of the mushrooms into an excellent forest mushroom soup, and we dried the surplus chanterelles (a long process without a convection oven…). We also had a single Limanuljaska (Gomphidius glutinosus), with a beautiful bright lemon-yellow base. The mushroom’s English name is the slimy spike cap… and it definitely lives up to its name as its cap is very, very slimy! After boiling this mushroom didn’t have much taste… but I’d happily give it a try again. We also boiled up some small Lactarius (Rousku) mushrooms, but they didn’t have much taste either – maybe we need to cooking suggestions from the experts now! There were lots of other mushrooms found, identified and collected (or rejected)… it will take a lot more help for me to get good enough to distinguish more than just the few easy species, but I am very thankful to Goran and his friends for patiently helping us with the basics!
In addition to mushrooms… it was cool to see both of the frog species that occur in Finland; the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria) and the European toad (Bufo bufo). I was also really pleased to see my first Treecreeper!