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Feb 4, 2005 12:03 PM

Ever eaten wild mushrooms? should I be scared??

  • c

A co-worker of my husband sent home a jar of wild mushrooms in vinegar that his wife makes all the time. She goes to certain place in Riverhead to pick them. My husband says she grew up in Poland picking wild mushrooms with her greandmother and knows what she's doing. Of course I had to taste some last night, and they were delicious! Like little portabellas but softer and tastier. Then this morning I put a few in my omelette, and they were great. Then just for fun I looked on the internet and scared myself to death.
Just curious how many of you out there are into wild mushrooms? I wouldn't mind if they were "magic", but I don't want to die a slow death!!! But they were really good.

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  1. I'm familiar with the "magic" ones and of course morels, but beyond that I'm overly cautious. Some kids a few years younger than me, while I was just entering college, then ate some they found. One died, the others were left in bad shape.

    But for morels, the only fungus you have to actively try to outwit while hunting them.

    1. I am not into risking my life for good food. There is plenty of good food I can eat without risking my life. I am certainly no expert but I understand even experts sometimes can't distinguish poisonous ones from non.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Peter

        OK, if you all stop hearing from me, say a prayer!

      2. You are placing your life in this person's hands. You can absolutely die, or almost worse be horrifyingly crippled for life, from eating the wrong mushrooms. It happens all the time. Many people do indeed have the expertise to pick mushrooms, but you need to be very confident indeed in their skill to be eating what they pick.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Buford

          The same advice goes for any food at all. Mushrooms are not especially dangerous.

          Fatal mushroom poisoning actually is not very common-- far less common than fatal food poisoning from eating E. coli or Salmonella contaminated meat or produce. The vast majority of 'bad' mushrooms produce nothing more than an upset gut and perhaps a nasty bout of vomiting. Of course there ARE lethally poisonous mushrooms, just as there are deadly poisonous berries and green plants, but avoiding poisonous mushrooms is no more difficult than avoiding any other food danger. Anyone who can learn to distinguish a raspberry from a strawberry is more than capable of distinguishing a delicious chanterelle from a deadly destroying angel. What poisonings do occur generally are the result of people pushing their luck, or of using knowledge of European or Asian mushrooms to identify American mushrooms.

          1. re: Hematite

            <My husband says she grew up in Poland picking wild mushrooms with her greandmother and knows what she's doing.>

            Hopefully she is not using her knowledge of European mushrooms to identify American mushrooms...

            My freshmen year biology teacher told us that while he was getting his doctorate he would forage for food (bulbs, greens, 'shroom, etc.) He still did it and would bring random things he picked for us to taste.I think I am the only person I know whose teacher used bulbs and 'shrooms that he collected as "rewards" for correct answers instead of candy.

        2. If you got them from a someone that knows nothing about mushrooms and just went out collecting and cooked and asked you to eat them I would not eat them.

          If the person knows enough about mushrooms and can tell what kind of mushrooms they are and they have collected them before then you most likely have no problem with them. If you have not eaten that type before you might not want to eat a whole lot of them until you find out it you are allergic to it are not.

          Since you and the person that made the pickeled mushrooms has eaten them already and have had no problems with them then I would say it is safe to eat them.

          The only way I could see having a problem with these mushrooms if it was mixture of different kinds and one of the mushrooms was a poisonous Amanita species. Amanita are easy to identify so you do not pick them.

          Some species of mushrooms are very distictive and are not confused with anything else and these are very safe to eat. Amanita on the other hand some are eatable, but other are deadly, so it best just to not eat any Amanita at all.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ScottE
            Krys Stanley

            I agree with Scott that if you are sure the person knows what they are doing, there should be no problem, especially if they have already been eating them.

            There might be the occasional problem of a jar that is canned improperly, but that kind of problem can happen with many canned veggies and the poor mushroom should not be singled out.

            As you said, she goes to certain place in Riverhead to pick them. So it is the same place and you are using this family as your personal food tasters.

            To top it off, she's Polish. We may not know how to screw lightbulbs in, but we know mushrooms. Not me, of course. Being third generation, I'd probably kill you with mushrooms I selected from the grocery store .. button mushrooms even.

            Since you mentioned elsewhere there is a Polishtown in Riverside, get down there and get yourself some dried Polish mushrooms. Try to find a place that sells them in bins and not prepacked. Ask to smell them. They are the all time great mushroom experience. Use them in any dish you would use a dried mushroom to kick it up several notches. Ask about where to get the best dried Polish mushrooms on your board.

            1. re: Krys Stanley

              That sounds like a great option. PS I'm still alive!

              1. re: Krys Stanley

                Yes my Great Grandmother(who came over from Poland when she was 18) Picked wild mushrooms all of the time, she lived to be 106 and did not die of mushroom poinsoning. That being said - she tried to teach me and my cousins how to ID mushrooms without much success. I couldn't even grow mushrooms from the shitake kit I bought a few years ago.

                1. re: AimeeP

                  How ironic it would be if a species of wild mushroom she ate contributed to her extreme longevity, given how focused some are on just the very real negative potential of eating certain other species.


            2. FWIW, I learned in a recent lecture that mushroom varieties vary from area to area. A wealth of knowledge about mushrooms native to Poland may not necessarly apply to the states.

              I recently had some shiitakes cultivated from a mushroom kit that were the best mushrooms I've ever had, and totally safe. They were not even a day old when we cooked them up. Absolutely delicious.

              2 Replies
              1. re: tedm

                Yes, mushrooms vary from place to place. However, if you have a good familiarity with a particular kind of edible mushroom, then you know how to identify it based on where it grows, what the season is, physical characteristics, how it bruises, smell, false "friends", etc.

                For example, I grew up hunting chanterelles, morels, hen of the woods, etc. in the US. Each is very, very easy to identify. I know these mushrooms like the back of my hand.

                I now live in Spain and I wouldn't hesitate to pick one of these mushrooms if I ran across it. However, there are many (incredibly tasty and widely available) species of mushrooms here that I didn't grow up with. Even with a book in hand, I wouldn't pick these without the benefit of a local mushroom hound's expertise.

                1. re: butterfly

                  There are some risks with that approach. There was a Chinese woman in Oakland CA who died last November after picking Death Cap mushrooms which she thought looked like mushrooms she used to pick in China.