An Introduction to Mushroom Foraging

Mushrooms are delicious. That is something all of us reading this can agree on. If we could, most of us will have it in every dish we make. However, it is a fact that buying mushrooms is expensive. And growing your own isn’t fast enough. So, mushroom foraging it is.

Mushroom foraging is simply done by going to the wild and gathering your mushrooms. This isn’t a new thing. Mushroom hunting has been done since the beginning before Fungiculture even exists. It can be a challenge. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Plus, the reward is too delicious and healthy to pass.

Mushroom Foraging: Mushroom Hunter’s Preparation

Expanding Your Mushroom Foraging Knowledge

The best way to prepare for mushrooming is by equipping yourself with fungi knowledge. It is hard to hunt for something you don’t even know what it looks like. Before setting out, research photos of edible mushrooms. You can have them saved on a mobile device or print out some pictures. 

Apart from knowing its appearance, you also need to look into the environment of the fungus. Does it grow on decaying trees? Are they found on the ground? Do they grow in clusters? Do they thrive in the heat or the cold? Why is this important? It is for you to be sure if you are going to the right place to forage. 

Not only that, but you also have to take note of the climate. Depending on the species, mushrooms grow in almost every season. Most of them appear during springtime. Some grow during the Autumn season. While other fungi can even survive all-year around. In short, you must figure out if you are in the right place at the right time.

One more thing to consider is learning about poisonous mushroom species. Often, inexperienced mushroom hunters mistake the poisonous mushroom for an edible one. I’m sure you do not want to make that mistake. 

Differentiating the edible ones from the toxic ones is not difficult. There are many ways you can tell them apart. For example, Morels have hollow insides while False Morels don’t. You just have to cut them open to find out. Chanterelles do not glow nor grow in groups. While the poisonous look-alike Jack O’Lantern glows in the dark and grows in groups.

Patience and Persistence

A mushroom hunter needs to have patience and persistence. You can’t expect to immediately find a mushroom upon entering the forest. And even if you do, don’t expect to get a lot right away. To get better results in mushroom foraging, ask a more experienced fellow mushroom hunter in your area.

What To Bring When Mushroom Foraging

Mushroom foraging and trimming

Mushroom Containers 

Apart from photos of different kinds of edible and poisonous mushrooms, there are other things you need. One of them is the container for your mushroom. Baskets are the most preferred. You will need two containers. The first one is for the edible ones you are 100% sure of. The second ones are for those you are not certain whether it is edible or not.

Hand Mirror

Hand mirrors are just additional safety tools. With a mirror, you can look at a mushroom from different angles without even touching them. You can look for details in the mushroom without moving around it too much.

Pocket Knife

Not all mushrooms can be handpicked. You would need some extra help in getting them off their growing spot. This is the case especially if they are growing on hard trees. You should also be careful not to damage the mycelium so it can still fruit more mushrooms in the future.

How should you pick a mushroom? With the use of the knife, cut the fleshy top of the mushroom off about an inch from the base. This will not only prevent harming the mycelium. But it will also allow the mushroom to regenerate. Next time you come back, there will still be some mushrooms for you to pick.

Mushroom Foraging: Quick Info on Types of Mushrooms

Poisonous Mushrooms

It is a fact that there are thousands of poisonous mushrooms out there. But don’t let this fact stop you from mushroom hunting. Instead, use this fact to research more of this so you can avoid them. 

Don’t pick a mushroom if you are not 100% sure of its identity. Stick only to those you are certain that is safe. Most toxic fungi bear an unpleasant bitter taste. If you feel like you ate a mushroom that tastes like that, spit it out. Immediately, rinse your mouth with water. Then, call some experts like poison control.

You also need to take note that not all toxic mushrooms have bad tastes. Some even taste good. So it still boils down to being 100% sure that the mushroom you picked is edible. For more information, go to 4 common poisonous mushrooms.

Edible Mushrooms

Lucky for you, there are still a lot of edible mushrooms you can find in the wild. White Buttons, Creminis, Morels, Truffles, and Portabellas are only some of the sought-after edible fungi. Some of the uncommon but a must to look out for are the Chicken Mushroom, Chanterelle, Lobster Mushroom, and Porcini. 

A fun fact that you should know is that you don’t always have to pick the mushroom right away. There are times you need to age the mushrooms first. An example of this is the White Button. If you let the White Button mature a bit, it will become a Cremini. It can also become a Portabella if you allow it to grow into full maturity.

Mushroom foraging in the woods

Wrap Up

Mushroom foraging is a fun and rewarding activity. But if you came unprepared, it can be a waste of time and even harm you. So the key to a successful mushroom hunt is preparation. If you follow the tips mentioned here, you are sure to have a fine mushroom foraging experience.