Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shrooming.

On my blog break, I also signed up for a mushroom foraging class at a local nature center.  After a video presentation and some guidelines on harvesting mushrooms, I took my basket and knife and I followed the instructor into the woods.
We were charged with collecting any mushroom or lichen we could find, digging them from the soil to preserve the bottoms if possible.  I later learned that these brightly-topped mushrooms are russula.
We started out in a big group, but eventually broke into small sets of two or three people.  The folks I walked with were friendly and we would call each other to see clumps of mushrooms so each of us could gather a bigger variety.
When we got back to the meeting place, the youngest member of our group had managed to find some very toxic Amonita.
This is terribly out of focus, but I did find the tiniest specimens of the group. There is actually a third impossibly minuscule mushroom by my thumb.
We grouped the mushrooms by type and then spent time with guidebooks trying to classify them based on features of the stipe, cap, gills, coloration, remnants of the universal veil, and so on.
When you cut mushrooms you can find out other things about them - if they secrete a milky substance, for instance, or if they stain another color when sliced or bruised.
With each identification, I'd ask the most important question: "So, is that one edible?"  Apparently this slug thought so.
At one point when I asked about edibility, Whitey (the mushroom expert) handed a piece of one to me and said, "It won't hurt you, but it's listed as 'intensely bitter.' Taste it." I did, and it was. He handed me another mushroom and said, "Taste this one, it's bitter in a different way." I said. "What, am I the official taster now? How do I know this one won't kill me?" So he popped a big chunk in his mouth and started chewing it, expressionless. I tried a piece. I will not be adding any of those to my salad anytime soon.
My personal haul from the foraging trip.  I still have only a rudimentary idea about how to identify mushrooms, but I will sure be noticing them on my walks from here on out.

31 comments:

  1. ew...ha...good thing he crawled out before anyone began preparing them eh? smiles...i would like to know which are edible...i enjoy shrooms...smiles.

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    1. I don't believe that was one of the safe mushrooms anyway.

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  2. What an awesome class. I have been a fan of mushrooms since I was a young girl. Not eating them but collecting pictures of them, I think they are so pretty. Now I do enjoy eating them too!

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    1. I've always liked raw mushrooms, but not so much cooked ones. But they are beautiful.

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  3. What a very interesting thing to learn about. As a rule, there are not a great many mushrooms in this area. I guess because of the dampness they thrive on? But you guys found a great selection!

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  4. WOW...what an utterly fascinating post on mushrooms! I had no idea that there are so many different ones (the shape, the color).

    Love the shot of you holding that teeny tiny mushroom. And the last shot of them all lying in the basket.

    Thanks for sharing, girl! Enjoyed!

    X

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    1. Thanks! It really was a lot of fun and I was surprised at the variety we found.

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  5. You mean an afternoon isn't enough in which to become and expert? Bummer. I'll leave the foraging to you.

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    1. Ha! I won't be going out on my own to find mushrooms unless I have a way of checking with an expert.

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    2. Half the benefit of that class is that you now have an expert available to you.

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  6. What a fun activity! I don't think I'd trust myself to go foraging for food purposes, but I'd enjoy the hunting and trying to identify based on pictures.

    Dumb question maybe, but are any toxic to the skin?

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    1. I wouldn't either - you can do yourself some serious damage.

      I don't know, but none of these were ones he was concerned about, not even the amonita.

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  7. Love mushroom, at least to eat. Does he do classes on other fungi, like truffles? Not that would be some to dig after, a nice black truffle.....one the downside of the coin, the mushrooms that are toxic like the ones containing ergotamine, can kill 'ya.
    I only pick the ones I absolutely know, the morel.

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    1. I don't think we have truffles around here. Morels, though, and I'ld like to look for those next spring.

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  8. What an interesting class to take. Lots of interesting varieties in your "neck of the woods". My mother's father knew what mushrooms were safe to eat in the wild. I think he passed the knowledge down to some of ihis sons.

    betty

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    1. There are some look-alikes, so you have to be absolutely certain you can tell the difference.

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  9. Our old lawn used to get very waterlogged and every so often there'd be a crop of fungi. I had no idea what they were so I certainly didn't try eating them. Even if I mugged up on all the different varieties, I don't think I'd ever be confident that I could correctly identify the edible ones!

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    1. I get them in my yard, too. I wouldn't recommend just trying out any old mushroom.

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  10. So is that last photo of the mushrooms you fried up and had for dinner?? ;)

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    1. Nope! I had a couple of edible ones in my basket, but I passed on eating them because I wasn't convinced of their safety.

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  11. What a fabulous class to take. I would love to learn about mushrooms! You are inspiring me to find out what kind of outdoor education I could acquire in my area. Lots of fascinating things in the woods here that I'd like to learn about...

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  12. Learning about mushrooms is a very good thing to do. I could harvest them by the basketful at the moment but because I don’t know what they are I daren’t.

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  13. I've never been able to handle the concept of eating fungi. I actually pick mushrooms out of food, just like a little kid. My family teases me. But I like the idea of a class to try to identify them. They are interesting to look at. They also make me think of Agatha Christie mysteries.....someone being poisoned by a misidentified mushroom!

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  14. I signed up for one of these courses once and never heard back. We have over 30 edible types here but locals refuse to eat them as they are mushroom adverse for the main part. I would love to become an expert on mushrooms.

    Most interesting post.

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Sounds like an interesting experience, but not for me. I'm not exactly fond of mushrooms.

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    1. I'm not advocating it, just talking about my day.

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