Q&A

Do you harvest this stuff yourself?

We used to do it all ourselves but demand has grown and we’ve graduated to needing extra hands. Our crew consists of Eric’s dad and stepmother, Michelle’s brother Matthew, a few friends, and our growing network of experienced harvesters to help us meet demand. We also started an on-line platform called wildtrader.ca to connect suppliers and buyers of wildcrafted anything.

Where do you go to harvest?

Depends on the ingredient and the season. For Morels we chase forest fires so every year is different. We’ve harvested on the southern BC border, way up in the Northwest Territories, and in central AB. Our chanterelles are mostly Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii  (Queen Charlotte Islands), sometimes Sakskatchewan. Our Porcini is a blend of the mild, sweet specimens from treasured coastal locations and stronger, nutty varietals from foraging friends in Europe. We have an every growing little black book of secret spots in AB and BC. For our seaweed, it’s back to Haida Gwaii. Our Northern Wild Rice grows naturally on the lakes of Manitoba. Our stinging nettle is from AB and BC. So the short answer is “we go lots of places”.

Do you have a mushroom farm?

Most wild mushrooms available in stores and at restaurants are not actually wild. Species like oyster and shitaki were once wild but are now farmed. Untamed Feast takes “wild” seriously and only offers mushrooms that cannot be farmed or grown.

Most seaweed on the market is farmed in Chinese or Korean waters. Ours comes from clean, healthy environments in north Pacific waters. Most wild rice on the market is actually mass paddy farmed.

Similarly, most wild rice on the market is a hybrid grain that is mass farmed. In each of these cases the farmed goods produce a higher yield at the sacrifice of quality, nutrition, and flavour.

What's the benefit of wild vs cultivated?

Besides the harvesting method, as discussed above, the growing conditions make all the difference in flavour and nutrition content (think wild salmon vs farmed, or wild strawberry vs plastic pack imported). Wild food is loaded with nutrients from the rich environments that they grown in and because it grows and ripens/matures ‘at home’ it’s taste is exceptional. Who knows better how to make a perfect food than mother nature herself?

Are there any health benefits to wild mushrooms?

Yes! Wild Mushrooms contain beta-glucans which boost the immune system. They are loaded with trace minerals and vitamins (Iron, selenium, Vitamin B & D, etc).  They have been proven to be anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory. And they are also a wonderful vegetarian protein.

How do you know the mushrooms you are picking are safe?

The species we harvest have been enjoyed for centuries and are available in some of the top rated restaurants in the world. We are 100% confident in the species we harvest. We can differentiate between edible and non-edible mushrooms like a gardner can differentiate between a cucumber and a zuchini.

Some people are allergic to mushrooms, as is the case with most food. If it’s your first time eating wild mushrooms, eat a small amount. Wild mushrooms should be thoroughly cooked.

Can I eat wild mushrooms raw or dry?

No, the mushrooms must be reconstituted and then cooked. Cooking is an alchemy, breaking down hard to digest materials and unlocking the flavor of the mushrooms. There are a few species of wild mushrooms, like porcini, that are excellent raw, in small amounts, when just out of the ground.  Do not eat raw wild mushrooms, and do not eat something you are unsure of.

Can I eat wild seaweed raw or dry?

Yes. Our seaweed is cold air dried so it maintains its status as a raw food. Some people snack on it right out of the bag but we prefer to crumble it, put it in water for a few minutes and then it in salads (it would still be a raw food), soups or stir-fries.

Are people allergic to mushrooms or seaweeds?

These are not common allergies but some people do have them. If you are allergy prone or have a concern about this, eat only a small amount to begin with to see if they agree with you.  If you are allergic to a store bought mushroom it does not mean that you are allergic to wild mushrooms. If you are allergic to shellfish it does not mean that you are allergic to seaweed. The ingredients we harvest are safe for the majority of people and are served in restaurants all over the world. If there was a substantial allergy or safety risk they would not appear on those menus.

How do I soak the dried mushrooms/seaweed?

All soaking Instructions are below on this page. They are also on page 2 of the recipe booklet inside the mushrooms packages and on the back of the Ocean Blend sea vegetables.

What is the shelf life of your products? How do I store them?

Our products have a shelf-life between 14 months and 2 years. See storage section.

How long do I need to cook dried mushrooms?

It depends on the variety, the size of the pieces, and the cooking method. See the Eat section of the website or the recipes included in the product packages.

Why are the products so expensive?

Wild mushrooms are hard to find and hard to get. It takes a great deal of resources to predict and prepare for each upcoming season. It is expensive, time consuming, and labour intensive to gather, dry, and process high quality wild ingredients within the short harvest window. Harsh weather, bugs, isolation, and wildlife are just some of the elements at play in a wild harvest. Since these mushrooms cannot be farmed, mother nature’s generosity and good luck are major factors in every harvest cycle. We can’t simply plant more.

Export markets for wild mushrooms are competitive. Global demand is usually greater than supply, mostly for a lack of harvesters. The bulk of Canadian wild mushrooms are exported at high value to Europe and Asia.

Can I get them fresh?

Sometimes, yes. However fresh mushrooms perish easily, do not transport well, are more delicate, and harder to clean. Since mushrooms are 90% water, the dried product has much more flavor, (it’s like comparing a raisin to a grape). The concentrated flavour of dried mushrooms is better product for soups, sauces, gravies, risotto.

Aren't you killing the mushroom organism when you pick?

No. The mushrooms can be compared to an apple from an apple tree. In the case of wild mushrooms the “tree” is and underground organism called mycelium. Mycelium is an intricate white, filament-like network working in symbiosis with all the tree roots underground. When the mycelium is stressed (like in the case of a forest fire, in a certain season, or other instance of soil disturbance) it produces its fruit.   The mushroom itself is the fruiting body of the underground mycelium and  picking the mushroom/apple does not destroy the mycelium/tree.

Ask us anything!

TIPS

Cooking

Untamed Feast products include some of our favourite ways to enjoy wild food and we take you through them step by step. Of course, these are very versatile ingredients and the possibilities are endless. For ultimate dishlishousness, saute rehydrated mushrooms with aromatics such as onions, garlic, and leeks and then…stir them into pilafs, and other grains/serve them over toast, pizza, or polenta/upgrade omelets, mash potatoes, and mac’n’ cheese/top off steak, roasts, chicken breasts, fish/flake dried mushroom and add to homemade pasta, bread, scones…

Ocean Blend Seaweed is a great addition to any asian style soups (miso, soba, wonton…). Or once rehydrated, chop it fine and combine with grated root vegetables for a hearty, fusian salad or add to stir fries and noodle dishes.

Northern Wild Rice has a deep, nutty flavour and needs little enhancement. For savoury, cook it with broth or simply garnish with cheese, onions, herbs, or mushrooms. For sweet, combine it with berries, maple syrup/honey, nuts, and cinnamon. The grains will start to curl when it is done, but you may peak and taste test to get the right texture for you. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely.

Rehydration

Dried mushrooms must be rehydrated and thoroughly cooked.

Place mushrooms in a bowl and add suggested volume of tepid water, not hot. Some mushrooms will float, so make sure they all get wet. Let them stand for 5-20 minutes. Thick pieces, stems, and some varieties take longer so give them a pinch with your fingers to check readiness. If they are plump, they are ready. Take the mushrooms out of the water, squeezing access liquid, and chop, slice, or blend as needed. Always save this water as it has loads of flavour and is used later in the recipe. When pouring the soaking water into your pot or pan, leave the last few tablespoons in the bowl as any bits of nature will have settled to the bottom. (Rehydration demo).

Dried wild seaweed can be eaten raw and sprinkled into any dish, but is best rehydrated for 5 minutes in cool tap water. You can crumble it and then soak it, or soak it and then chop it fine. The seaweed will expand a lot, quite quickly. Soaking activates the mucilage which is a rich, soothing glycoprotein also found in flax, aloe vera. You do not need to save this water.

Storage

Untamed Feast wild products are made with simple, naturally dried ingredients. They have a long shelf life provided they are in an airtight and humidity free container. Untamed Feast bags are resealable so if you don’t use all your mushrooms, seaweed, or rice, in one go, seal them back up, or put them in a jar, and store them in a dry cupboard, not your fridge or freezer. Ready to cook dishes are single use.