Learn how to forage for mushrooms and discover all different types of species in gardens, forests and grassy verges nearby. But beware the toadstools...
Knowing how to forage for mushrooms is very important if you want to use them in your supper. The thought of collecting these earth-scented delights in a misty forest holds great enchantment. But beware, just as fairy tales can turn dark and murky in an instant, one needs to be absolutely positive about what you are picking before it goes in to the pot.
If you do forage for mushrooms watch out for the most notorious poisonous mushroom is the deathcap. Its looks like a toadstool in appearence and there is no remedy for consuming this mushroom. Liver failure being the most common result. Therefore it is highly important to have know what you are looking for when foraging for food.
But if you go ahead and forage for mushrooms try making the pot roast grouse with brandy, tarragon and wild mushrooms.
QUERY: We have recently moved to an area that is said to be good for mushroom picking. We are armed with a book but lack the confidence to pick what we find. Are there any basics rules for foraging and do you know of any courses on mushroom identification?
MD, Thetford, Suffolk
HOW TO FORAGE FOR MUSHROOMS
The most basic rule to remember when foraging is that legally all wild produce belongs to the landowner and therefore you should always ask his permission if harvesting on private land. Pick only enough for your personal use as wildlife depends on wild food. Don’t dig or pull up the whole root – use a sharp knife to cut the mushrooms and ideally carry them in a loosely woven wicker basket so that the spores can fall through and regrow, ensuring that there will be more in the future. Where you look will determine the type of mushroom you find; the common field mushroom is, surprisingly, not found in open fields while the cep is found in woodland. Identifying fungi is almost more complicated than naming trees and flowers because it relies on a combination of features that single out one species from more than 6,000 other mushrooms and toadstools in the British Isles.