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Foraging for Field Mushrooms
Farmer and #EatNZKaitaki Brit Morrison of Tomtit Farms reflects on her #WildFoodLove adventures, involving foraging for wild field mushrooms and how her family transformed them into delicious meals.
Growing up as a farm kid in Aotearoa, foraging for wild field mushrooms was a cherished part of my childhood. In our rolling paddocks, after a hot dry summer and autumn rains, the land would come alive with a bounty of little white button mushrooms. It was a seasonal tradition for us, from Autumn through to Winter.
With buckets in hand, my siblings and I would eagerly venture into the paddocks, filled with excitement and wonder. The hunt began, as we carefully plucked the mushrooms from the earth, collecting as many as we could until our buckets were brimming with nature's treasure. The aroma of the earth and the thrill of discovery filled the air.
Back at home, our family kitchen transformed into a culinary playground. Mushrooms on toast became a delightful breakfast treat, their earthy flavours mingling with the buttery bread. For lunch, pizzas adorned with freshly picked mushrooms danced in the oven, creating a symphony of flavours. And for dinner, creamy mushroom pasta emerged from the stove, its velvety richness comforting our souls.
The abundance of mushrooms was a joy. We sometimes had so many that freezing became our ally, preserving their freshness for the months ahead. But one year, the surplus was so great that we decided to share our harvest with the community. We set up a roadside stall, with a small table, adorned with baskets of mushrooms and a handwritten sign. The excitement as children when someone would stop to purchase our foraged treasures.
Looking back, I realise how unique and special this experience was. As a country kid, I assumed that everyone partook in the adventure of foraging for field mushrooms. But now I understand that it was a part of the Kiwi kid lifestyle, a connection to the land and a celebration of nature's gifts. It was a reminder of the simple joys and the nourishing traditions that shape our lives.
As Matariki approaches, I am filled with gratitude for the Mahika kai experts who have preserved and celebrated our traditional food practices. Through foraging for field mushrooms, I was connected to the land, my heritage, and the flavours that will forever linger in my heart.
Words and photos by Brittany Morison of Tomtit Farm @tomtitfarm