Mushroom Foraging


I’ve mentioned mushroom foraging once or twice on here. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. So on Sunday, I finally went.
Mushroom foraging simply means going out into the woods and picking mushrooms. In my local woods, you can find morel, chanterelle, porcini, button, and oyster mushrooms as well as many edible varieties you can’t normally buy.
However, since wild mushrooms can be poisonous, it’s important to go with someone who knows what they’re doing. I would not recommend mushroom foraging unless you have an expert with you. In my case, I went with my local mycology club.
The way it worked was, a friend and I went into the forest and picked mushrooms for an hour and a half. Since she and I had never been on a foray before, we picked every mushroom we saw under the theory that at the very least, we would learn what it was. Considering how dry it has been this winter–mushrooms usually flourish after rain–we gathered a pretty big haul.

Then we went back to the table and had the experts look at the mushrooms we had collected. It turned out that only two were edible, the Pig’s Ear and the Hedgehog Mushroom. Otherwise, we had collected mushrooms that, while not exactly poison, were not good for eating. Here are some pictures:

Russula amoenolens were all over the woods. This one is spicy. The mushroom expert had us hold it to our tongue (but not eat) and it burned about as hot as a habanero pepper.

This little Smurf house is called a waxcap. Not edible, but pretty.

I didn’t catch the name of this mushroom. I was hoping it was a chanterelle mushroom, but alas, it was not edible. If you know what it is, I would love to know it.
So while we didn’t come away with much to eat, I had fun and learned a lot about mushrooms. I see going mushroom foraging again in the near future. In fact, I even bought a book on the subject.
Mycological associations are a safe way to be introduced to the world of mushrooms. If you’re interested in going foraging, try looking up the club in your area. They may have regular mushroom forays you can tag along with.
ETA: Check out the follow-up post The Hedgehog Mushroom.

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5 thoughts on “Mushroom Foraging”

  1. I like foraging for things growing but am dathly afraid of mushrooms. So I grow em. I need to take a mushroom class! Thanks for posting!

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  2. The mushroom you confused for a chanterelle is Omphalotus illudens aka Jack O’Lantern. Unlike chanterelles they grow in tight clusters and literally glow in the dark. They are really very different and as you gain more experience you will have no trouble telling them apart. A good way to identify the chanterelles that look them is to use your nose. A real fruiting chanterelle smells like dried apricots.

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  3. Dina, I think you may be mistaken. I collect jack O’Lanterns regularly for dyeing purposes and that does not look like what I’ve collected.
    Jack o’ Lanterns do cluster on dead wood, but they usually have a greenish tinge and do not have light colored flesh like the mushroom in the photos. See my first link below for photos and descriptions of the Omphalotus mushroom.
    What you’ve actually found is a different Chanterelle look-alike called a scaly chanterelle or woolly chanterelle. It is actually not a chantrelle at all but rather is related to the Pigs Ear Mushroom. See the second link for pictures and description. It isn’t considered poisonous, but isn’t recommended as an edible because it causes stomach upset in some people.
    1. http://peculiarpurls.com/2012/02/11/an-important-comparison/
    2. http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Gomphus_floccosus.html

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