Last weekend I met up with two good friends David and Eri to head out early morning to an area of ancient woodland. We carried a picnic, one penknife between us and a big net bag in the hope to bring back at least one mushroom.
Eri has been learning how to identify mushrooms for a while now. She’s been brave enough to cook herself some wonderful looking pasta dishes as a result of her foraging. I’ve wanted to have a go at hunting mushrooms for years but just thinking about it has left me with trepidation – frankly it just seemed more likely to end in death or serious harm than my other foraging efforts. Invitation to join a well practiced forager was the perfect opportunity to learn the ropes.
We collected 25 varieties but found maybe 30 different mushrooms overall. We only took mushrooms where we could see that there were a good number of mushrooms growing (at least 8 of each type) to make sure we didn’t damage the mushrooms’ abilty to thrive next year. We then took those we picked away with us so we could identify them properly.
Eri identified some as edible as we went along. When I got home I double checked identfying them myself to be very sure what they were.
Even if a wild mushroom is an edible variety it’s still possible to have an alergic reaction. So I spent a couple of days tasting and then ingesting a small piece of each of the edible varieties to check that I didn’t react, leaving half a day between each one to be sure.
When I was happy that I wasn’t about to die I decided to make a cream of mushroom soup using the Shaggy Ink Cap, Birch Bolete and Common Puffball mushrooms. I used vegetable stock, a bay leaf and single cream to make this glorious autmnal goodness!
Thanks to Eri and David I’m a little bit wiser and braver when it comes to spotting mushrooms! The three I used for the soup are easy to spot as they don’t have poisonous doppelgängers, so fingers crossed I can find them by myself in future. But bigger than that, wandering around in beautiful woodland, spending time to really focus in and notice things around you, and with very good company, is incredibly beneficial for mind, body and soul 🍄