Wild Mushrooms

Contrary to popular belief, not all wild mushrooms are poisonous. If you like hunting for wild mushrooms, it is important that you know where to find them and how to identify ones that are edible. Wild mushrooms grow in damp, wet areas and in areas where there are numerous old and rotting trees. They usually grow around the base of these trees and on the bows of oak trees. You will also find them in areas of dense plant growth and in mossy areas that are not overgrown.

Some species of mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes. You should start off by selecting four or five varieties and get to know these very thoroughly. Chicken of the woods is one edible variety of wild mushrooms that is very tasty when boiled. This mushroom grows in large brackets in brightly colored clusters. They are bright yellow, leafy in shape and found on the trunks of trees. When you pick this mushroom, do not tear it off the tree because it could damage the root and keep it from growing back. The best way is to cut off a chuck of it very close to the tree.

Another edible species is called the Morel. You do have to be careful with this mushroom because there are poisonous varieties that look very similar to it. The Morel has black ridges running along the top of the cap, which is cream colored. There are aerospores inside the mushroom, which must be near the surface. A common type of this mushroom has white ridges and as it ages, the ridges turn a yellowish color. The pits are dark brown. Other varieties include the black morel, which has gray ridges when young and they turn black as the plant ages, and the half-free morel, which has the cap connected to the stem. The poisonous variety of this mushroom has a brain-like cap and has a much shorter stem.

The king of all wild mushrooms is the toadstool mushroom. One of the English names for this is the Cep. There is a distinct aroma of fermented dough that comes from this mushroom, which can grow alone or in clusters. You will find it in areas of oak, pine spruce and fir trees during the summer and fall. It has a brown cap, which is white at first, and as it grows an expanding line forms at the margin. Although this is dry and smooth at first, it gradually becomes greasy. The stem is about 15 cm tall and is covered with a white net. The flesh of the mushroom is white and tastes and smells very pleasant. When you cut these mushrooms lengthwise the flesh is always white.

When picking wild mushrooms, you should use a knife with a hooked inward blade. You will also need a brush to dust off debris. Always use a paper bag or a wicker basket for collecting the mushrooms because a plastic bag will cause them to sweat and spoil.