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Wild Mushrooms - Safe to touch?
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scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 10:15 am    Post subject: Wild Mushrooms - Safe to touch?  Reply with quote    

On my next woodland walk, I am considering a spot of mushroom hunting.

Obviously the question of identification is an important one, I'd prefer not to poison my family in the process!

But how to (positively) identify them?

I could take a book along with me and attempt identification on the spot, but I suspect this may be problematic, both in taking a book along with me (as well as dogs and kids) and the time it may take to be sure of a positive ID.

Another option is to take a digital camera along. I could then take snaps and allow myself the time to identify them at leisure when I get back, returning to pick the chosen specimens. The only problem being that two trips are required (but not the end of the world).

Thirdly I could collect a harvest of musrooms and identify them from the actual specimen. However, I am not sure if there are some species of mushroom which are not only poisonous to eat, but poisonous to touch (excluding the hand to mouth element for the moment).

Any advice

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Pick- take home - identify (visual, smell and spore tests) - eat or bin.

I usually spread some newpaper over the table and wash my hands after as a precaution, more to keep the OH happy than any nervouceness on my part.

A good book for home is the Roger Philips guide to mushrooms, very detailed and probably more info that you need. others will be able to advise on a field guide.

I've found that the best way seems to be to get good at recognising what you can eat and steer clear of what you're uncertain about. Also, remember where you found stuff cos it will tend to be there again next year.

Have you seen Cab's article on edible fungi?

scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

should different specimens be kept seperate between collection and identification, or can I throw them all in the same basket?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Scarecrow, there aren't any mushrooms that you will find in the woods taht are going to poison you by merely touching them. If that were true, I'd be dead hundreds of times over

If you're fairly new at this, you can't do any better than actually having the specimen there in your hand. Pictures are never as good. And if you really want to take a specimen home to help you ID it, then do so, but I'd reccomend keeping old paper bags or carrier bags to put unknown specimens in. What might look like a really firm, tough mushroom on the ground may well disintegrate to little bits in your basket, and the very last thing you want is a nice basket full of tasty Agaricus and Boletus covered in the detritus of a broken up panther cap, death cap or destroying angel!

I'd reccomend that a beginner is best off sticking to a few easy species; unfortunately, you've picked a bugger of a time of year to get into this sort of thing. Only a few species of edible mushroom are really common at this time of year. The best ones are probably blewits and oyster mushrooms, although you may also find winter chanterelles. Have a look at the two articles that cover this:

http://www.downsizer.net/Projects/Wild_Food/Top_Ten_Wild_Foods_to_Gather_in_Winter/

http://www.downsizer.net/Projects/Wild_Food/Top_Ten_Wild_Mushrooms_for_the_Beginner/

The Roger Phillips book that's already been reccomended is a cracker for good identification; I'd also reccomend just as highly the classic book 'Food for Free' by Richard Mabey. Phillips tells you how to identify down to the species level, Mabey tells you when you really don't have to.

scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Cab, I just wondered whether any give off any poisonous substances which might get absorbed through the skin.

I've not really 'picked' a time to get into this, I just had a thought that my woodland walks with the dogs could be more productive than just exercise!.

I've seen those articles and I've also looked ata few websites too.

Wish me Luck!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Scarecrow, good luck!

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

scarecrow wrote:
Thanks Cab, I just wondered whether any give off any poisonous substances which might get absorbed through the skin.

I've not really 'picked' a time to get into this, I just had a thought that my woodland walks with the dogs could be more productive than just exercise!.

I've seen those articles and I've also looked ata few websites too.

Wish me Luck!


I gather that even the poisonous ones can be safely tasted on the tongue and spat out. All part of the id process.

jema

scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I tell u what, I'll send all the poisonous ones to you to taste for me Jema!

Downsizer.net's official poisonous mushroom taster!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

jema wrote:


I gather that even the poisonous ones can be safely tasted on the tongue and spat out. All part of the id process.



Most of them. But you want to make sure it's not one of the -really- nasty ones first. Tasting can be a way to distinguish exactly what species you have, but you can usually make sure that it ain't poisonous first.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Phillips say:

Quote:


nibble a bit and break it up on the tip of your tongue...spit out the remains and completely clear your mouth; if done carefully even the most poisonous species can be tasted in this way....


jema

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Even so, do -you- want to taste a destroying angel? The kind of toxins in those guys are so very severe that even a small part of the cap can be lethal; in principle it's safe to taste and spit, but look up the effects of poisoning by some of the really nasty amanitas in the same book and you'll not fancy it either. Best to avoid tasting the nastiest ones alltogether, which isn't a problem because they're not too hard to spot.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cab wrote:
Even so, do -you- want to taste a destroying angel? The kind of toxins in those guys are so very severe that even a small part of the cap can be lethal; in principle it's safe to taste and spit, but look up the effects of poisoning by some of the really nasty amanitas in the same book and you'll not fancy it either. Best to avoid tasting the nastiest ones alltogether, which isn't a problem because they're not too hard to spot.


Personally no chance

jema

3mariners



Joined: 20 Dec 2004
Posts: 16
Location: East Devon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'd be interested to no if Cab agrees, but from my limited experience, there are actually very few good eating mushrooms, by that I mean big, tatsty and 'meaty' enough to bother with.

I was advised by my local Iti. mush guru to recognise a few quality examples and stick to those e.g. st Geoges, field, chanterelle (as opposed to falsies), hedgehog, blewits, types of puff ball, ceps, funnel caps et al.

I've seen and been tempted to pick many small varieties but not bothered simply because of the potential quantity required and the flavour.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

3mariners wrote:
I'd be interested to no if Cab agrees, but from my limited experience, there are actually very few good eating mushrooms, by that I mean big, tatsty and 'meaty' enough to bother with.

I was advised by my local Iti. mush guru to recognise a few quality examples and stick to those e.g. st Geoges, field, chanterelle (as opposed to falsies), hedgehog, blewits, types of puff ball, ceps, funnel caps et al.

I've seen and been tempted to pick many small varieties but not bothered simply because of the potential quantity required and the flavour.



This has been my impression as well.

jema

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Scarecrow, I know it's just an idea at the moment, but I'd highly recommend next year tracking down some organised forays...Wildlife Trust is a reasonable starting point..

If you want I'll try to dig up a post we did on River Cottage a couple of months ago about the various places to find outings. Nothing like an early start eh? Though there might just possibly be some spring/summer ones.

(From a still wary fungiphobe...I did try a bit of Treacodactyl's Jew's Ear the other night...but I spat it out...I can happily poison my own liver over Christmas!)

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