I adore wild mushrooms.
In the Autumn I go up to Borough market and I walk through the mushroom stalls. I even bought a mixed box from them last year, but at £10 for a small box it’s something that can only be a treat.
I used to think that mushroom foraging was a specialist skill. I heard so many horror stories about people eating mushrooms they’d picked that I never thought I’d have the confidence to do it myself.
Then we went on a mushroom foraging walk in Shropshire, and everything changed. I learned to identify many mushrooms on that walk and then that same holiday all I wanted to do was walk through the hills looking for mushrooms. And then fry up the mushrooms when I got home.
Ever since that walk I can’t stop looking for mushrooms. If I’m somewhere I’m allowed to pick, I will now take a few and cook them up at home. I love wild mushrooms and I feel I know enough to do this.
In London in most places you are no longer allowed to pick them. Always check you’re allowed to pick mushrooms before you do! I understand why they have made these rules, but it is sad that we can’t enjoy this amazing fresh food anymore.
I still don’t eat anything unless I’m absolutely certain of what it is. I would always advise going out with an experienced forager for your first few times. Know how to check for poisonous species and always check for these. I will not take any responsibility for any mushrooms you have eaten after reading this!
There has been a huge amount written on mushroom foraging. I recommend the following two, but please let me know your favourite ones! I believe you can never have too many books.
Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1
What I love about this book is it lists the most easily identified mushrooms at the front, with how to distinguish them from anything poisonous. I think it’s good to concentrate on a few more easily identified mushrooms when you start out. There are some mushrooms that look like nothing else so that makes them far more safe to pick and eat.
There are also some excellent recipes in here that I hope to try out at some point.
Mushrooms by Roger Phillips
This is my favourite book on mushrooms, and if you look at other people’s recommendations you’ll find this book on their lists too.
It has beautiful photos and detailed descriptions, and gives a decent introduction to mycology. The book lists the genera and then lists all the types in each. I found it easy to follow and read and I often sit and look through it.
This is the one I’ll take with me when I go out – I know it’s heavy! I need to find myself a decent field guide.
I was given this mushroom knife as a birthday present and I love it! It has a very sharp blade and a brush for knocking the extra earth off before you put the mushroom in your bag.
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