In late August through the end of September, the French take to the country in search of the elusive truffle and its sister the mushroom. It is also during this time that Americans take to the country searching for their own culinary treasure – orchards full of apples and pears.
This weekend, I was fortunate enough to take part in one of these traditions – apple and pear picking. And, it was during this time that I began to wonder about the similarities between the two.
Although the two pastimes may seem very different – mushrooms are fungi gathered from the ground while apples and pears are fruit gathered from trees – the process of hunting for apples/pears or mushrooms share similar guidelines that the hunter and gather must follow.
- Size – Both mushrooms and apples/pears must be a certain size before they are picked. Mushrooms must be past the point where they have relased their spores and apples/pears must be large enough to ensure full ripeness.
- Tools – In France, mushroom hunters are not permitted to use tools – except for knives – to forage. In the case of apples and pears, most gatherers use their hands or carefully shake a tree to catch the falling fruit.
- Method of Transport – In France, mushrooms must be carried in a wicker basket in order to allow the spores to fall to the ground and help propogation. Although apples and pears don’t require specific transport methods, bags are often handed out at orchards to monitor prepaid amounts.
- Cleaning – It is recommended that mushrooms are carefully washed before being eaten; while the same goes for apples and pears.
Beyond these rules, mushroom hunting and apple/pear picking share another similarity – the gatherer’s patience and delicate hand often result in a basket full of late summer goodness. So whether you’re in France hunting for mushrooms or in the US picking apples and pears from a free – follow the rules and enjoy your harvest!