If you’ve ever wanted to forage for your own edible mushrooms, this article is your essential guide. We’ll cover the basics of mushroom identification, the ins and outs of finding safe foraging spots, and a detailed look at some of the most commonly known mushrooms.
Recognizing Edible Mushrooms
Before you set off on your mushroom hunting adventure, it’s a good idea to research the types of mushrooms local to your area. Doing so can save you a lot of time and potentially help avoid any nasty surprises. Be sure to bring along guides or other reference materials to help with identification.
Be cautious when choosing your foraging location. Avoiding polluted areas is key. Harmful substances can be absorbed by mushrooms, making them unsafe to consume.
When identifying mushrooms, pay attention to certain characteristics. These include the shape and color, which should be uniform in edible mushrooms and varying in poisonous ones. The texture should be firm and the smell woody for edible mushrooms. If it gives off an unpleasant smell, it’s more likely to be poisonous.
Lastly, only pick mushrooms that are in good condition – they shouldn’t be too old or have frozen. And when in doubt, stick to well-known mushrooms like yellow girolle, chanterelle, cèpe, morel, and sheep’s foot. Stay away from the deadly death trumpets.
Well-known Mushrooms and Their Characteristics
Yellow Girolle: These mushrooms can be found in forests during the summer and fall seasons. They can grow up to 10cm and feature a conical, yellow-orange appearance. They’re known for their strong fruity smell.
Chanterelle: Similar to the yellow girolle, the chanterelle is thinner and hollower. It’s more reddish and carries a musky smell.
Cèpe: These mushrooms grow in forests and clearings between June and November. They can measure up to 30cm, with a light brown cap that can sometimes be dark. They have a short and stout stem that tapers upwards. Their white gills turn yellow when ripe and the firm white flesh turns blue on touch. They’re known for their hazelnut smell.
Morel: Morels are spring mushrooms, though some varieties can also grow in summer and fall. They smell of undergrowth and damp earth. Toxic substances within the mushroom are destroyed by cooking. Morels have an irregular and alveolate cap with folds and ridges. They color from brown-beige to dark gray-beige, with a short hollow stem that’s whiteish. Morels can reach up to 20 cm in size.