Published December 19th, 2012
ASK CYNTHIA: Reader Requests Mushrooms
Ask Cynthia Brian-Mushrooms
What do you know about collecting wild mushrooms? With the recent rains, we have ‘shrooms springing up everywhere and we are wondering if they are edible?
Appreciate your knowledge.
Up until about fifteen years ago I would have regaled readers with my fungi foraging forte since I regularly plucked Portobello’s, pinkies, shaggy manes, shitake, puffballs, horn of plenty, and chicken mushrooms from pastures, trees, and grassy knolls. I salivate at the memory of these sublime delicacies gently sautéed in garlic, wine, and parsley smothering our Sunday supper entrees! Then a knowledgeable ole’timer near our ranch died from eating a poisonous champignon gathered on his property. My identification confidence disappeared and I now limit my mushroom stalking to farmer’s markets.
If you are considering becoming a forager, remember to never eat any plant, berry, leaf, or seed without being 100% certain that it is edible. Even safe mushrooms may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals and there are many “look a likes” that are toxic and/or deadly. I call the poisonous fungi toadstools. In France, we used to bring suspect champignons to the nearest pharmacy for positive identification. I wish pharmacists in the U.S. possessed this training!
There are several good books on wild mushrooms, however, your better bet would be to study mycology, and the best bet would be to join a Mycological Society. There is one in San Francisco with a myriad of mushroom activities during the September through May growing season. Visit http://www.mssf.org/.
Be Safe! Happy Hunting and Bon Appetite!
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Ask Cynthia Mushrooms
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