The Varieties of Wild Mushrooms That You Should Know About
Wild mushrooms are a marvelous gift of nature. These delicious and nutritious fungi grow on trees, logs, and other forested areas—but they’re also quite challenging to identify - a bit like a self driving car, really! Accidental poisonings are common, so you must be sure you know which mushrooms are safe to eat before you take a bite.
Fortunately, there are some types of wild mushrooms that are generally safe to eat. If you end up with more mushrooms than you can eat, you can freeze them. For optimal flavor and texture, thaw them out in the fridge.
If you are interested in learning more about these different varieties of mushrooms so you can safely forage for them in the future, keep reading!
Staying Safe With Mushrooms
Mushrooms can be delicious but there are many varieties that can make you ill or worse, so you need to be absolutely sure about just what they are - even experts can make mistakes sometimes! If you see a strange mushroom that you’re not sure about, there are a few rules to follow:
- Avoid harvesting mushrooms that grow in the dirt. They’re more likely to be contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
- Avoid harvesting mushrooms that are growing in a cluster. They’re more likely to be poisonous.
- Avoid harvesting mushrooms with a strong smell. They could be rotting.
- Avoid harvesting mushrooms that have yellow or black gills. These are more likely to be poisonous.
Morel mushrooms are easily identified by their unique shape (like a honeycomb). The cap is often wrinkled or bumpy. The hyphae (the part under the cap) may be yellow, orange, or black. Morels are typically found in the spring, near decaying wood (such as fallen trees); if a mushroom is smooth and round, instrad of wrinkly, then it could well be a poisonous species.
Morels should not be eaten raw since they contain toxins that can make you ill, and cooking can deepen their flavour. In terms of nutrition, morel mushrooms are a fantastic source of niacin (B3) and riboflavin (B2). They’re also rich in vitamin B6, iron, zinc, and manganese.
Morel mushrooms are best when eaten fresh. Dry mushrooms are great for adding flavor to dishes such as stews and soups, but fresh mushrooms have much more flavour. Store fresh ones in the refrigerator in a paper bag.
Creamy and White Mushrooms
Creamy or creamy-yellow mushrooms are widespread in the wild. Their cap may be rounded or lobed, and they are typically smaller than normal mushrooms.
If a mushroom has a white or creamy-yellow cap, it is likely edible; but unless you are absolutely sure what it is, best to leave them alone!.
Creamy or white mushrooms are a good source of fiber, manganese, and riboflavin (B2). They are also a good source of potassium, niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5). They are delicious when sautéed in butter with a dash of pepper and salt and they can also be steamed, baked, or made into mushroom soup. Creamy and white mushrooms are best eaten fresh. They can be dried, but their flavor will not be as strong.
Edible-Looking Brown Mushrooms
Brown mushrooms grow on decaying wood, logs, and soil. They often have a cap that is not very firm and can have small scales. If a mushroom has a brown cap and a sponge-like texture, it may be edible.
Cultivated brown mushrooms are often used as a substitute for truffles. They are a good source of riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5).
Brown mushrooms are great roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. They can also be sautéed in butter, or blended into a delicious sauce for pasta or steak. Brown mushrooms are best eaten fresh, when they are full of flavour.
These mushrooms do not freeze well, so if you have extra, try to use them up quickly.
Shaggy Mane Mushrooms
Also called angel wings, shaggy mane mushrooms are fragile and beautiful mushrooms that grow on decaying trees. They’re relatively easy to identify since they are conically shaped, with an upturned scale pattern. Shaggy mane mushrooms are a creamy white color and have a very delicate texture. They also have a delicate flavor, so they’re best when cooked with strong-flavored foods. These mushrooms are best when eaten fresh; if you try to freeze them or dry them out, they don’t retain much flavor. Shaggy mane mushrooms are best served sautéed or baked. They go well with foods like eggs, potatoes, fish, and pasta. They also make a great side dish when served with steak or pork chops.
If you come across a cluster of mushrooms that are growing near the base of a tree, they might well be the dangerous false morel (also known as the fool’s morel). Unfortunately, the false morel looks very similar to the true morel, which is edible and delicious when cooked properly. You can identify the false morel by its wrinkly cap, uneven shape, and white spores. This mushroom is not safe to eat and should be avoided.
If you come across a cluster of mushrooms that look like the false morel, you can be sure that they’re not true morels by checking their stems. True morels have hollow stems, while false morels have solid stems. If you are not sure whether or not a mushroom is a true morel, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it.
Chanterelles are beautiful, edible mushrooms that grow in the forests of the northern hemisphere. They’re a rich, golden yellow color, with a wide and fluted cap. However they can be tricky to identify, since they can sometimes look like poisonous mushrooms, so you need to be absolutely sure what they are before collecting them.
Chanterelles are best when eaten fresh, so make sure to harvest them on a dry and sunny day. If you’re not going to eat them right away, store them in a paper bag in your refrigerator. These mushrooms freeze well, so you can save them for later.
Chanterelles are delicious in a wide variety of dishes. They go well with eggs, pasta, omelets, and stir-frys. They also make a great topping for steaks and fish.
Tawny funnel mushrooms
Tawny funnel mushrooms are a very common type of edible-looking brown mushroom that are found throughout the world. These mushrooms thrive in woody areas, particularly on decaying or recently cut wood. These mushrooms are generally identifiable by their dark brown color and their funnel-shaped cap and can also be recognized by the distinctive ring-like pattern on their caps. Unfortunately, there are many species of tawny funnel mushrooms, and not all of them are edible; and those that are, are not very tasty! Be sure you know which species of tawny funnel mushrooms you are harvesting to avoid accidentally harvesting a poisonous mushroom.
When picking mushrooms from the wild, it is important that you know which ones are safe to eat. Wild mushrooms are an amazing gift from nature, but unfortunately they’re also very challenging to identify. Accidental poisonings are common, so you must be sure you know which mushrooms are safe to eat before you take a bite. Take a few photographs of their caps, and be sure to check their stems, too,before harvesting them.
With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of caution, you can be fairly (but not absolutely) sure that you’re harvesting only the safest wild mushrooms.