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Collecting For the Table

Following are some thoughts when collecting mushrooms for the table or pot:

  • Stay away from LBM's ("Little Brown Mushrooms"), they include many poisonous species that are difficult to distinguish from edible species. Examine each mushroom you pick carefully. Poisonous and edible mushrooms often grow side by side.

  • Don't eat any mushroom that is past its prime. If you wouldn't buy it in a grocery store because of its condition, don't eat it from the wild. Eating edible species that have spoiled causes many mushroom poisonings.

  • Don't overeat on wild mushrooms. Mushrooms should be a portion of a balanced meal, not the whole meal.

  • Always eat sparingly of any mushroom species that you haven't eaten before. It's always possible you will have an allergic reaction to a particular mushroom species. Put a few specimens of the mushroom you plan to eat in the refrigerator, so that a mycologist can positively identify the genera and species if it turns out a mistake has been made.

  • When picking puffballs, cut them in half vertically and examine the contents. If the inside is not pure white and unstructured, don't eat it. A puffball with an interior structure resembling the outline of a mushroom may be an undeveloped Amanita button. If the interior is firm but discolored or black, it may be an over ripe puffball or one of the poisonous earthballs.

  • Be suspicious of any mushroom with warts, scales or raised projections on its cap. It could be a poisonous Amanita.

  • Look for specific recognizable mushrooms. When you go out picking berries, you collect strawberries or blackberries. You don't pick every kind of berry you come across, mix them in a basket, and expect some expert to tell you which are edible. Follow the same logic with mushrooms.

  • Use caution and common sense. If in doubt, throw it out!