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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 3:20 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

There is a local group nearby who do various activities in the woods (no not that type of activities). I'm sure they'd do mushroom gathering.

The only problem is I think I will have moved house by then.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 04 4:02 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 is the kind of topic that divides mushroomers!

There are basically three cultures of mushrooming. Southern European, Eastern European, and North Western European/New World.

In Southern Europe, most pickers will stick to a few species that are big, tasty, easy to identify, and abundant. And there's no debating whether they're good, they're all marvellous mushrooms. So go out with an Italian, or someone of Italian descent, and most likely they'll be eyeing up all the spots where you're likely to see ceps (and their relatives), chanterelles, maybe puffballs, and morels.

In Eastern Europe, they eat all manner of things. Mushrooms are picked as a major foodstuff, and the culinary culture is one of hoarding things away for winter. So they pick all manner of things that we'd mostly leave, and they tend to scare feck out of the Southern Europeans. Some, such as the wooly milk cap, can't even been eaten till they're ensilaged.

Western Europe has a differen culture; it's more experimental, more about picking lots of different sorts of things and experimenting to see what is best, but it is far from being a 'survival' cuisine, or a way of ekeing out a low income like it traditionally can be in Eastern Europe. The guide books and recipe books from Britain and the United States tend to have more mushroom species, but less recipes, if that makes sense, than Southern Europe, but they tend to be less concerned with salting, drying and otherwise preserving than Eastern Europe.

I'm definitely in the Western School! I pick a wide variety of mushrooms, and for me the joy is in best expliting what can be found. I pick a lot of the larger, meaty mushrooms (the familiar boletus, species of agaricus, St. Georges, puffballs, some of the funnel caps, etc), but I also get quite excited by some of the less meaty ones (fairy ring champignons, anise caps, amethyst deceivers, russulas, etc). They may not pack the same meatiness, but the intensity of flavour can be stunning. The fairy ring mushrooms, for example (Marasmius oreades) is abundant, but small, and has a stunning almondy flavour quite unlike any other mushroom. It dries superbly either for use on its own or blended with other mushrooms. Similarly, amethyst deceivers (Laccaria amethysta) has a colour that remains throgh gentle cooking; it might not be all that flavoursome, but added with, say, some boletus it adds some extra 'mushroomy' intensity, and it makes the dish look far better.

There are some little ones I can't see the point of; the common funnel cap, for example. All of the smaller, edible species of ink cap. But unless I'd tried them out, I'd never have come to that opinion.

On a final note, I don't agree that there are only a few big, meaty species! There are ten or more big, tasty species of Agaricus alone, three species of blewit, heaven knows how many Boletus, a whole load of puffballs, not to mention Pluteus, Volvariella, Pleurotus, Macrolepiota and a whole raft of other genera!

McLay455



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 89
Location: West of Scotland
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 04 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have been gathering fungi for most of my life, and after 50+ years, still only eat about 15 species
These are (in order of favourite to least favourite)

Cantherellus Cibarius -- the Chanterelle
Cantherellus Pallens(ferruginascens) - the pale chanterelle
Boletus edulis -- the Cep or penny bun bolete
Leccinum versipelle -- the orange birch bolete
Agaricus
arvensis
macrosporus
augustus
campestris
bitorquis
silvaticus
Tricholoma Gambosum -- St Georges mushroom
Lepiota Procera -- the parasol
Hygrocybe praetensis -- Meadow Wax Cap
Pleurotus ostreatis -- The Oyster

There are a few others I would eat,but havent found yet.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

McLay455 wrote:

There are a few others I would eat,but havent found yet.


Gosh... If I restricted myself to such a few, some weeks I'd not pick anything at all around here!

Have you never come across any likely looking Russula, Pluteus, Volvariella or even Chicken of the Woods? There are a lot of common and rather tasty mushrooms that you're missing out on.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Welcome back Cab, that was a long break!

jema

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cab wrote:

Have you never come across any likely looking Russula, Pluteus, Volvariella or even Chicken of the Woods? There are a lot of common and rather tasty mushrooms that you're missing out on.


Are any of the the Russula worth it? There's loads around here but Philips put me off.

deerstalker



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 589

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Considering what I do, I spend a lot of time in the woods and fields.

Although I would like to know more, I really don't see that many mushrooms!

The books tell me such things as found on chalk soils or under beech.

Cab, your list is impressive, but you don't say what part of world you come from, or how far you have to travel?

I have only really started looking since early last summer but haven't seen that much.

Am I looking in the wrong direction or is the soil geology that important?

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26752
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Deerstalker wrote:
Considering what I do, I spend a lot of time in the woods and fields.

Although I would like to know more, I really don't see that many mushrooms!

The books tell me such things as found on chalk soils or under beech.

Cab, your list is impressive, but you don't say what part of world you come from, or how far you have to travel?

I have only really started looking since early last summer but haven't seen that much.

Am I looking in the wrong direction or is the soil geology that important?



How are your observational skills? I recall being in a graval pit with a fossil collector who was finding Cephalopods by the bucket load My eyesight with my glasses on is good, but I was having a hopeless time finding them

jema

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Without sounding too deep, youve got to change your focal plane!

Start focussing on the ground six feet around you and you'll see'em. Eyes up, scanning the path and the middle distance and you'll miss them.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

jema wrote:
Welcome back Cab, that was a long break!

jema


It was... I really ought to have mentioned, but I was all ahoo over Christmas.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Behemoth wrote:

Are any of the the Russula worth it? There's loads around here but Philips put me off.


Most definitely! The charcoal burner is a superb edible species, as is the yellow swamp russula. Many of the common russulas are tasty, but fragile.

Typically, if I come across a non-red russula, I test a tiny sample on my tongue. If it doesn't burn, taste soapy or horrible, then it goes (gently!) into the basket.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Deerstalker wrote:
Considering what I do, I spend a lot of time in the woods and fields.

Although I would like to know more, I really don't see that many mushrooms!

The books tell me such things as found on chalk soils or under beech.

Cab, your list is impressive, but you don't say what part of world you come from, or how far you have to travel?

I have only really started looking since early last summer but haven't seen that much.

Am I looking in the wrong direction or is the soil geology that important?


Soil geology matters. But most places will yield you -something- edible.

The best advice is to keep your eyes down, looking out for markers that might indicare mushroom growth. Rings on the grass or in the undergrowth, bare patches, oddly coloured patches. Be aware of the smells; sometimes you can have a good find by smell. And low down-ish as well as forward-ish.

Most of my foraging is done in some really scrubby local woodland- in a really small patch too! I also find a lot of mushrooms on the local housing estates in North Camridge. It's probably the worst place I've lived for mushrooming (dry, poor soil and naff geology for it), but it's still not all that bad. Occasionally (once a year maybe) we head as far afield as Thetford, also picked a few mushrooms in Epping last year.

deerstalker



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 589

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Eyesight and observation are pretty good on the whole. I don't wear glasses and observation is a key part of what I do.

Just don't seem to come across very many. Maybe it's because I'm keeping an eye out whilst doing other things rather than going on specific mushroom forays?

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

[quote="Cab
Typically, if I come across a non-red russula, I test a tiny sample on my tongue. If it doesn't burn, taste soapy or horrible, then it goes (gently!) into the basket.[/quote]

So a wood full of red ones isn't much good then

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 05 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Behemoth wrote:

So a wood full of red ones isn't much good then


Well, you want to avoid the sickener and the beechwood sickener, but some other reddish russulas are edible. I'd not bother, though, as even the best of the other red ones that I've sampled has been a bit dull.

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