Foraging: A guide to the best fungi

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st December 2014
Foraging has become more and more popular, with high profile chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Noma’s René Redzepi encouraging people to forage for local, seasonal, fresh food. One foragers favourite is fungi and we’ve put together a brief guide to some of the more common edible and avoidable mushrooms. A few common EDIBLE fungi: Amethyst Deceiver   Amethyst Deceiver/Laccana Amethystina The Amethyst Deceiver can be found in mixed woodlands, usually with oak and beech trees, from June to December. This is a very common mushroom that tastes mildly nutty. Look out for the cap, it can be convex or flatted with a depressed centre and upturned edges.   Beefsteak Fungus/ Fistuluna Hepatica Beefsteak Fungus Otherwise known as Ox-tongue, this fungus can be found growing out of living or dead oak and sweet chestnut trees from August to November. It is a common fungus and tastes slightly sour. It gets its names from its tongue shaped, semicircle cap, which is red or red/pink/brown, moist and sticky.       Chicken of the woods/ Laetiporus Sulphureus The alternative name for this fungus is Sulphur Polypore, and it is found mainly on oak trunks and stumps, and also on cherry, sweet chestnut, willow and yew trees. It gets its name because it is said to taste like chicken to some. It can be found from May-August.     Common Puff Ball/ Lycoperdon Perlatum Common Puff Ball Although the other name for this mushroom is the Devil’s Snuffbox, it is in fact edible, as long as it is eaten while the flesh is still white throughout. It can be found in mixed woodland, pastures, commons and heaths, and is found individually or in groups of three to ten, between July and November. It is very common, but be careful as the spores when breathed in can cause lung disease, so take care when handling older specimens.       Common Yellow Russula Common Yellow Russula/Russula Ochroleuca Otherwise known as the Yellow Brittlegill, it grows in mixed woodlands from August to November and this very common mushroom tastes hot and peppery when raw. It has a yellow/light tan coloured, convex cap, which flattens out with a depressed middle.         Fairy Ring Champignons/ Marasimus Oreades Fairy Ring Champignons Alternate names for this mushroom are Fairy Ring Mushrooms, Elf Rings and Scotch Bonnets. As the names suggest, this very common mushroom is where the ‘fairy ring’ stories come from. They grow in rings or semi rings in short grass on lawns, roadside verges, parks and pastures, from April to August.       Meadow Waxcap - credit to Roger Butterfield Meadow Wax Cap/ Hygrocybe Pratensis The Meadow Wax Cap is a common mushroom found growing in groups in grassland and pastures between August and November. It has a convex cap which flattens out with a wide umbo.     Shaggy Parasol/ Lepiota Rhacodes Shaggy Parasol This mushroom is found in mixed woodland and anywhere shady, particularly with conifers, from July to December.  It grows in troops or rings but can also be found individually. It must be cooked, or it can cause gastric upset.       The Deceiver/ Laccana Laccata Also known as Waxy Laccana, this is found in mixed woodlands and heathland from June to November. It is very common but only the caps are edible. It has a convex cap which can flatten out with a depressed centre and upturned edges. It is red/orange/salmon pink or brown and fades with age. A few common fungi to AVOID:   Beechwood Sickener - credit to wildaboutbritain.co.uk Beechwood Sickener/ Russula Mairei This common poisonous mushroom causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be found in beech woodland from September to November.     Brown Roll Rim/ Paxillus Involutus brown-roll-rim - credit to telegraph.co.uk This deadly mushroom is deceiving, as there can seem to be no symptoms, but it actually causes an extreme allergic reaction and haemolytic anaemia (increased loss of red blood cells) which can be fatal. Its habitat is broad leaved woodland, particularly birch, heathland and grassland, including lawns. It is very common and is found between August and November .     Death Cap - credit to Wikipedia Death Cap/ Amanita Phalliodes This mushroom causes the most fatalities. The symptoms are severe vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains, followed by a ‘full recovery’ for a few days before death from kidney and liver failure. There is no cure. It is found in most mixed woodland, particularly with oak and other deciduous trees, between July and November.       Destroying Angel/ Amanita Virosa Destroying Angel This mushroom is fatal, with the same symptoms as the Death Cap. It is also found in most mixed woodlands, especially with deciduous trees, between July and November.           Fly Agaric Fly Agaric/ Amanita Muscaria Otherwise known as the Fairy Toadstool, this is the famous toadstool depicted in many pictures and cartoons, including in The Smurfs, who live inside these toadstools. This common mushroom has hallucinogenic properties and can be found in birch woodland from August to December.       Inocybe GeophyllaInocybe Geophylla All Inocybe fungi contain muscarine, which is poisonous. Muscarine poisoning causes increased salivation, perspiration and tear flow shortly after eating. This commonly found mushroom lives in woodland, particularly by paths, from June to November.         Sulphur Tuft Sulphur Tuft/ Hypholoma fasciculare This fungus causes stomach pains, nausea, temporary paralysis and distorted vision and can on rare occasion be fatal. It grows in large clusters on most types of tree stumps all year.       The Sickener/ Russula EmeticaRussula Emetica The Sickener gets its name from the nausea, vomiting, severe stomach pains and diarrhoea eating it causes. It is found in pine woodland commonly from July to November.           Yellow Stainer - credit to wildfood.co.uk Yellow Stainer/ Agaricus Xanthodermus The causes of this mushroom are abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. It is usually found in groups or rings in mixed woodland, grassland, and beside roads and paths, from July to November.       These are just a few of the many wild fungi found in nature, so if you are considering foraging, please seek other information and ideally use a foraging course if a beginner. *Please note this is just a guide, please thoroughly research any fungi before consuming.    By Samantha Wright

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st December 2014

Foraging: A guide to the best fungi