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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.

                  Link: http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showf...

              2. I collect wild mushrooms quite a bit. It's a bit of a risky game - I admit - but very very addictive. There is absolutely nothing that beats the thrill of coming upon a patch of beautiful wild mushrooms in the deep dark forest. But it's an occupation that must be approached with due respect. Yes, it can kill you.

                So - I pick morels in the spring. Easy as pie to identify. Not so easy to find. They are like the holy grail of mushrooms. When and where they come up is a closely guarded secret and this information is passed on like the combination to the lock on the door of Fort KNox. I have been sent on wild goose chases - to spots where morels were supposed to be abundundant and there were none. I suspect it was intentional. On the other hand, I have done the same to others, so I guess it is karma.

                In the late summer I collect puffballs. I personally hate them and they make my extremely ill, but others love them and eat them with impunity. So I give them away.

                Finally, in the fall I collect porcini and porcini-like mushrooms (all in the boletus family). They are fairly easy to identify, but not all the varieties are equally delicious. I also have started collecting another mushroom which I was shown by a professional picker - she calls them Ontario Pine Mushrooms but they have a scientific name that sounds like a deadly disease: Tricholoma Myomysis. It's a delicious mushroom but a bit dangerous to pick as it can closely resemble something poisonous. This mushroom makes my husband violently ill, but I can eat it with no problem. Go figure.

                So yes - it's kind of worth it. A little danger is good in our all-too-pasteurized lives. But just a little. Know what you're picking or trust your source.

                1. I've seen mushroom books that have photos of harmless mushrooms next to photos of dangerous ones which look almost exactly the same. I couldn't see any difference for most of the paired photos.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Lee

                    That's right, you can tell very little from a photo. That's how people who don't know what they are doing get poisoned.

                    Where the mushroom grows (a log, the trunk of a tree, under leaves, at the edge of the forest), the season, the physical location (northern exposure vs. southern), smell, pattern of the pore or gills on the underside, the color that the mushroom turns when you scratch it, the type of imprint it makes against paper, whether it produces "milk" etc., etc. are all important factors when you go mushroom hunting. If you grow up hunting mushrooms, all this knowledge gets passed on and you can use a good guidebook for reference.

                    If you are just learning and winging it, then you need to get the best book available (with all of the above info and more) and you should only hunt mushrooms that don't have deadly look-alikes.

                    1. re: butterfly

                      The one thing is that even though someone may SAY they are a mushroom expert, I'd really want to make sure of that. Some people consider themselves experts on all sorts of things, but mushrooms are nothing to fool with.

                      I personally would not suggest taking it up as a hobby. This is knowledge that really is passed down from generation to generation ... the people who made a mistake ... well, so much for that branch of the family. That particular knowledge and the mushroom picking gene never got passed down to me, so as I said, I personally wouldn't pick cultivated button mushrooms.

                      However, people eat all sorts of food that is dangerous but delicious. What about Japaenese fish that will kill you if you slice it up wrong.

                      Taking all precautions, I would not pass up the sublime experience of wild mushrooms.

                      Even real mushroom experts fail occasionally, but that is rare. However, people have died from eating at fast food salad bars.

                      BTW, changed my Chowhound name to Krys.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  2. When I was a teenager living in Germany, my biology teacher went mushroom hunting and died. That was the only lesson I really needed. Sorry to be so negative.

                    1. Since you've already eaten some of the mushrooms, I would go ahead and eat the rest. People who end up eating the "death cap mushroom" only need to eat 1 and they are off to the hospital. I would be a little more cautious in the future, but chances are this particular batch is safe.

                      1. Wild mushroom "hunting" and eating is very common throughout Eastern Europe, and fatal poisonings are pretty rare. Besides, many mushrooms lose their toxins in the cooking process, and pickled mushrooms are cooked mushrooms.

                        I think that if this woman picks mushrooms on a regular basis and her family eat them, you're fine.

                        Mushrooming is a great hobby and you can start by picking only the absolutely safest mushrooms there are, like cepes/porcini, which are pretty much impossible to mistake for any poisonous kind, and are also delicious (and perfect for drying).

                        There are beautiful colorful mushroom atlases available in the US; there are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms out there, in all kinds of colors and shapes.

                        It has always surprised me how uninterested people are in mushrooms here in the US. Mushrooms are beautiful, mysterious and fascinating.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sir Gawain

                          Thanks for the advice, because my husband invited them to visit next time they're out (they come to Riverhead from Brooklyn), I would never try it myself but I'd love to see where she goes, etc. PS I'm still alive!!

                        2. I've eaten quite a few wild mushrooms and am looking forward to the up-coming mushroom season. In the fall with the right conditons we get beautiful chanterelles too. In the northeast we used to get giant puffball. They grew at my in-laws camp. Fresh, cut into slabs and fried in butter, they were delicious. You need to know what you are doing when gathering mushrooms and get a good teacher.

                          1. j
                            Jonathan Saw

                            This reminds me of something a friend of mine who is in the Bay Area Mycological Society told me:

                            "There are old mushroom hunters and adventurous mushroom hunters, but there are no old, adventurous mushroom hunters."

                            I believe poisonous mushrooms show their effects within 24 hours or less.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jonathan Saw

                              Thank you, I was still a little nervous as I saw one mushroom that took 10 days to take effect. PS I'm still alive after 4 days!

                            2. Depends on where you live, and the expertise of the pluckers.. Morels, I understand from Michigan friends, are easy to differentiate. Here on the West Coast, there seem to be fairly frequent stories about people who eat wild mushrooms and wind up on the critical list or worse. I pass.

                              1. My wife is Russian and an avid mushroom hunter, as are most all the Russians we know (there is a huge emigre community here in my town). They grew up learning what to look for, and no one ever gets sick, they stick with the types they know (it helps that the woods here in New England are very similar to those near St. Petersburg where she grew up). I've learned to help her spot them - it's really fun hunting for them in the spring and fall - but would never eat one unless she'd OK'd it first.

                                1. I learned how to ID wild mushrooms from my father and a HS biology teacher who liked to lecture in the 20 acre forest just outside the back doors of the school. It isn't easy to mistake a morel for the poisonous once you are familiar the markers, and the price of your knowledge can be quite tasty. Ive found wild chanterelles and even the very rare and succulent wild porcini on very rare occasions.

                                  1. Before it breaks through its egg shaped capsule, an juvenile amanita can look very much like a small puffball if the rain has washed off those crumbs on the cap. If you cut through it you see the embryonic curled up amanita instead of the solid interior of a puffball. So yes, you need to know them all under all conditions, as the stakes are pretty high.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cassis

                                      The central market in Budapest has a table set up with two or three experts in white coats (at least the day I was there) who will identify mushrooms. Also pharmacies in France and Italy have posters in the window illustrating good and bad mushrooms, which makes sense because pharmacies double as emergency rooms and deliver first aid. Any mushroom with gills is problematic, since porcini, chantrelles and morels don't have gills, but as others have noted, expert foragers look at a lot of factors.

                                    2. Risk reward. What's the reward? Some good tasting mushroom. What's the risk? Death or life time health problem. You decide on whether the reward is worth the risk.

                                      I live in a city with a large number of eastern European immigrants, and each year one or two of them dies from eating poison mushrooms that they identify as safe in their home country.

                                      1. It's a slow, agonizing death with a lot of rolling on the floor clenching your gut (and other horrible bodily functions gone bezerk), for days before you go.... I know.
                                        In my dreams, of course! We've bought lots of books and have gone out with experts and after a while we find that there are just a few shrooms that are good to eat, at any one time of the year, under a certain kind of tree, etc. and that it is not quite rocket science or that scary. Most you don't eat (or you can grow some that are better), so you are narrowing it down to just a few specific mushrooms you are looking for. I don't know where Riverhead is, but I think you will find something similar in your area.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          But I hear the colors one sees just before death are awesome!

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            OP is not out foraging for mushroom. He is trying to decide whether it's safe to eat mushroom foraged by someone else who claims that she did it back in her home country.

                                            1. re: PeterL

                                              Life is proof. But how much and how long have they foraged in their home country? I live in Maine, grew up picking w/ family in NJ, but more importantly, I course in Norway ( In Norwegian!) and harvested w/ experts in Finland. The flora and fauna, thanks to plate tetonics & climate are very, very, similar, so what I picked there is what I pick here.

                                              1. re: PeterL

                                                No, "She" is asking what others think and feel about picking/eating wild mushrooms. She even said she would not mind hallucinogenic ones (but they taste pretty bad). I suggested she not fear them. Fear is from the unknown. Mushrooms can be known and can be your friends. Especially when you're small, coll.
                                                As a follow-up, it is important to note that people react differently to mushrooms. Just like people can have a reaction to eating too many escargots at one time, the same can happen with mushrooms. One person might have no ill-effects while another might have gastro-distress or nausea. The rule is to always cook wild mushrooms and only eat a small amount the first time. It's also a bad idea to eat an unusually large amount of mushrooms at one sitting. More info:
                                                http://limyco.org/ - The Long Island Club.
                                                The Northeast Mycological Federation site: http://www.nemf.org/files/menu.htm

                                            2. I grew up in the Thumb of Michigan and was trained by my Mom and Dad which mushrooms were safe and those that were not, or those my parents didn't fully understand and avoided. The poisonous fungi were called Toadstools and we were taught to look at the underside to determine whether eatable.

                                              Even so, my parents were extremely cautious, not allowing some fungus I later found out was highly yummy --like the so-called Snow-Balls.

                                              I prefer safety. I now live in California and don't know the first thing about the fungi growing here .... and while I may miss a delicious 'room, I'll not forget the lessons my parents taught me. (Funny reflecting above: My Mom was of Polish decent, my Dad, Irish).
                                              They both (and their relatives), took the same precautions.

                                              I've often wondered: Who were the brave souls who tasted the first mushrooms and how did our cultures pass down the information?

                                              1. by the sound of it, the mushrooms that yourecieved pickled are called "slippery jacks" they're a good mushroom, and they usually grow in glades where there are some small pine trees. i myself have picked them from the age of 4 on. they're NOT poisonous NOR are they "magic". the beauty of the slippery jack, is that there is no poisonous counterpart (i.e. a mushroom by simialar look, smell and texture) so there is no way to have the confused with an inedible one. enjoy the marinated mushrooms, and i may just crack open one of the 15 jars i have. :)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Goddesslikewoman

                                                  Reminds me that of the handful of the most common, good tasting, wild mushrooms, most will not be mistaken for something else. A hunt or two with an expert and a good book or two will show you what I mean. Certain ones (usually), grow in certain places, and at only certain times of year. This helps narrow it down.
                                                  Avoid guessing and ingesting all the others. Yes, there are others that are edible, but few taste good enough to fool with! They are not worth the effort or the risk.
                                                  Please do not take my advice as gospel for any of this. Join a mycology group and get your own books if you intend to pursue picking wild mushrooms.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    If she learned which mushrooms to look for in Poland then she know what to pick. There is maybe 5-8 types that are v. common and popular in Europe (Poland) and these are quite distinct and not that difficult to distinguish. There is a large number of mushroom types in Europe and North America that are identical but ther are some varieties that are unknown to me and the rule I follow is that if I don't know it or it doesn't look right you do not pick it.

                                                2. Back in the early 70's, I had a French friend in D.C. who was chef/proprietor of a very nice restaurant. One spring, his brother came to visit and the two of them went mushroom hunting. They picked only the ones they "recognized" from France. The brother ate them and died. I eat mushrooms that one of my friends forages, but she's been doing it around here for many years. There are only two varieties that I feel confident picking: morels and chanterelles.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    Well, I guess the lesson is not to go mushroom picking with the French....

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      In the US there is a look alike for the chanterells, the Jack 'o Lantern, that does not exist in Europe. There is also the false morel which is poisonous. More Darwin Awards?
                                                      We have our own chanterelle patch behind the house. Boletes are easy to recognize as well.

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        However, chanterelles rarely grow in dense clusters, and they feature false gills. The Jack O'Lantern is usually clustered and features true gills. These are some basic patterns and characteristics any mushroom hunter needs to learn.

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          Yeah, but to the novice they look like chanterelles. Check out false morels, Mr. Wizard. I boil the poisonous ones, then eat them. :0).

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            Someone told me that if they grow on a tree, they're not poisonous. Ever hear of that?

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              Chanterelles will never be found on grassy areas where no trees are present.

                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                Jack 'O Lanterns grow on rotting stumps.

                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                  I had a feeling he was lucky, not knowledgable.

                                                      2. Well I'm still alive and well, four years later. Have gotten into dried ethnic mushrooms since this post but was never offered wild mushrooms again. I did get a book at Borders on sale with all the mushrooms in the world listed, but just glanced through it, so not ready to pick any myself. Where I am is all small pine trees so you're probably right about the type of mushroom. Thanks for all the replies, at least next time (hopefully there will be one) I will go in with my eyes wide open!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          Well good for you. Positive: good tasting food. Negative, liver transplant or death. In my book the negative far out weights the positive.

                                                          1. re: coll

                                                            A good group for getting help w/mushrooms is the Yahoo! Group: MushroomTalk.

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              A couple people just died, and several others got very sick in Northern CA frm eating wild mushrooms. A caregiver at a senior facility picked some wild mushrooms and made a soup with them. Turned out they were poisonous. It was in the newspaper a couple days ago.

                                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                Yes - I saw that news report too. How sad that stupidity has to kill helpless bystanders. That "caregiver" had no business picking mushrooms for soup to be given to nursing home residents. I understand the "caregiver" was also hospitalized, but haven't heard yet whether or not he/she survived.

                                                                Bottom line? Don't be STUPID!!!!!! Regardless of what your ancestors/close friends/significant others did - harvesting & eating wild mushrooms without a CONFIRMED EXPERT at your helm is pretty much like playing Russian Roullette with a gun to your head. Want to play by yourself? Fine? Want to play with family or guests? Not fine.

                                                            2. I've picked mushrooms around here for over fifty years. I'd say I know my mushrooms but there really are only about half a dozen mushrooms that are worth going to the trouble picking. Chanterelles are virtually impossible to misidentify. Morels but there's a mushroom that can look like a morel that will make you really sick. Boletus can't be mistaken but their close cousin the 'slippery jack' doesn't taste that good. Chicken of the woods excellent. Pine mushrooms are excellent and can't be mistaken if you have a sense of smell. They smell like turpentine/pine gum. I don't bother with russulas bc they don't taste that great. Angel wings are fabulous so are hedgehogs, shaggy manes when young, all puff balls, lobster mushrooms are fabulous and can't be mistaken, oyster mushrooms are fabulous. My point? It's taken me years to really feel 100% confident about picking/eating any wild mushroom. If you want to get into wild mushroom picking you must find someone who has many many years of practical experience who is willing (unlikely unless they REALLY like you enough to show you their 'secret' hunting grounds'). Failing that join your local mushroom club. Otherwise I'd never recommend you EVER eat ANY mushroom someone gave you no matter what.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                Many good points. I should say, though, that many of the "not tasty" mushrooms simply require a different preparation. Mushrooms are the fruit of fungi. Many think you should treat all the same, but that's like saying to treat all tree fruit the same.

                                                                Russulas: Many are ok, some are not good (unless prepared properly!), and some are wonderful tasting!

                                                                Using books, sticking to the ones that are easy, and being careful, a person can safely ID some mushrooms w/o a club or other such resources. Of course, eliminating the aforementioned combination is dangerous.

                                                                BTW, in Asia there are deadly Angel Wing lookalikes.


                                                              2. Unless you're a mycologist, or those 'shrooms were picked by one, I'd stay FAR away. I do eat them, but they're domesticated and sold in the grocery store. Just to err on safety's side. I hear mushroom-death is gruesome.

                                                                1. I've been picking wild mushrooms my whoe life. As a child I'd pick w/ my Russian father, dad and uncles. Both side of the family picked. I'picked in NJ, Maine, Finland, Norway (took a course in norwegian on picking) and now in New mexico. I died once but arose the third day. Bad joke. I only pick abour 5 species, that I'm dead sure about.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    I stick with morels. They have a very distinctive appearance

                                                                    1. re: marymac

                                                                      there is also a false morel that is poisonous. While living in Helsinki, I learned that one can boil tor 10 min. or dry false morel to remove the toxins. In Maine I pick both. I also have a great chanterelle pstch behind the house. Check out the diff between the morel and the false morel.

                                                                  2. Gifted to me by my brother, who goes tick collecting, er... mushroom foraging almost every weekend.

                                                                    1. This was my neighbor's lawn about 3 weeks ago. My backyard looked the same, before the Squirrels discovered the Mushrooms. They munched on them like crazy and they ate every little bit down to the bare stumps. Haven't seen a dead Squirrel after that, but I am still not eating them.
                                                                      Growing up, one could pick up regularly baskets of wild Mushrooms in season from the "Vegetable lady" and my mother would buy some every so often. But, she always reinspected every Mushroom and pitched those which looked suspicious. I do remember when I was about 10 years old, a whole family in our town died as a result of Mushroom poisoning.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: RUK

                                                                        RUK, do you have a maple tree, stump, or previous stump anywhere near those mushrooms?

                                                                        1. re: yarmo

                                                                          Yes, my neighbor does have a Maple tree stump and it is right next to the border between the yards.

                                                                          1. re: RUK

                                                                            True mushroom experts never poison themselves w/deadly mushrooms. They no more do this than a gardener accidentally eats a deadly weed that ended up in the garden, because they know the unique characteristics of what they planted....

                                                                            True mushroom experts can tell you what tree (when applicable) is/was* near the mushrooms in a photo, what they do for/to the environment, why they fruit in the pattern they do, etc.

                                                                            The photo shows what I believe to be, IMHO, saprophytic (*not* parasitic) edible healthful honey mushrooms. Verifying with a white or nearly white spore print, we have an answer. Though, the eater should still cook them well and try a small piece 1st and wait 24 hours before eating them in plenty.

                                                                            Sam Schaperow
                                                                            Blog: Foraging.Posterous.com
                                                                            Yahoo! Mushroom Group Moderator: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mu...

                                                                            *such an expert can look at a mushroom photo, if it contains sufficient identification characteristics, and tell you if there was a stump in the area (when applicable to certain mushroooms) with a root system the mushrooms are growing around, even in lawn w/o any other evidence of a tree.

                                                                            1. re: yarmo

                                                                              Honey Mushrooms! Thanks for identifying! Next time I will take a much closer look!

                                                                      2. coll.....people go into liver failure and can expire quickly from ingesting poisonous mushrooms.NOT worth the risk especially because this is not Poland and there are a lot of poisonous mushrooms here in the States.I can only speak for myself of course but I would never risk ingesting anything that could kill me.

                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                          No one should take such a risk. But avoiding what lacks the risk (e.g., picking an apple from a tree w/o pesticides, or picking a mushroom w/o poisonous lookalikes...) can be limiting. Maybe limiting is good? Maybe many wild mushrooms are healthful and extend our lives? Should we make fear-based decisions or goal-based decisions when the goal is in reality safe?

                                                                          Also, Poland has a similar # of poisonous species last I knew. What they do there, however, is to stick to those mushrooms that are easily identified and safe, plus cook them thoroughly. No, it isn't the location, it is the culture that determines eating practices.


                                                                          1. re: Lillipop

                                                                            OK, caution is one thing, irrational paranoia another. Yes, there are some deadly poisonous mushrooms out there, but as with other risks it can be avoided. I get the impression from many of these posts that people believe that EVERY wild mushroom is potentially dangerous, that every time I eat a chanterelle or a honey mushroom or a king bolete I am taking a risk. This is not true. It is like saying that because grocery stores contain bottles of deadly poisonous liquids (like drain cleaners) we are taking a risk every time we buy a carton of milk or a bottle of orange juice. There are many good edible wild mushrooms that are more difficult to confuse with poisonous ones than than it is to confuse Drano and orange juice. (As an aside, fear of wild mushrooms was intentionally inculcated into the American mind by commercial mushroom growers after WWII, who even managed to get anti-wild mushroom material included in school curricula across the country).

                                                                            People die from mushroom poisoning every year. Far more people die each year from eating improperly cooked or stored food. The difference is that the chanterelles I collect I positively know will not kill me, while I can't be quite as sure of the leftover I just took out of the fridge or the next meal I eat out.

                                                                            There are some good edible mushrooms that do closely resemble poisonous ones. These are best avoided altogether unless they can be positively identified (ironically, supermarket button mushrooms-- young Agaricus bisporis, are one of these). There also are a number of wild plants that closely resemble deadly water hemlock. There is no more reason to avoid the good, easily identified wild mushrooms because of this similarity than there is to avoid wild strawberries or raspberries.

                                                                            1. re: Hematite

                                                                              Hey you all can eat whatever you want.NO need to justify your choices to me:) As I stated I can only speak for myself and I did and may I add that as an experienced ICU RN...liver failure is NEVER pretty whether it be from the novice who unknowingly ingested a poisonous mushroom or the chronic alcoholic who knowingly ingested years of alcohol. Eat and drink as you choose. But I am discriminating about what I ingest:)

                                                                              1. re: Hematite

                                                                                The problem is lack of education! I really wish one of you experts takes me by the hand and shows me exactly which one is safe and which one i should avoid. I would mark the location. Identifying with the help of a book is simply not sufficient..
                                                                                Every year I look closely, enjoy looking at them very much and take pictures as here in this link
                                                                                but I am just not that hungry to risk it. ( I had used the picture of the juvenile Amanita muscaria for some time as my Avatar here) Of course I would never mix up Blueberries and Viburnum berries, I know better. And I will certainly pick and eat wild Raspberries and similar.

                                                                                1. re: RUK

                                                                                  RUK, many of the mushrooms you pictured are very very very tasty edibles (depending on cooking method!). Look up this, for example: Lycoperdon perlatum

                                                                                  If you don't have someone near you, you can travel to an expert to hire for a nature walk. Or, combined books with yahoo groups: ForageAhead and MushroomTalk, for instance. Subscribing to my blog should prove helpful in time, too. Foraging.Posterous.com

                                                                                  1. re: yarmo

                                                                                    Ahh, the Puffball!
                                                                                    Thanks for the links. Your blog looks very interesting, I will spend more time visiting! :-)

                                                                                    1. re: RUK

                                                                                      "Ahh, the Puffball!" indeed.

                                                                                      Unfortunately, some folks pick what they think are immature Puffballs, but turn out to be poisonous varieties just blooming.

                                                                                      Yet so many supposed online mushroom "experts" tell folks that "Puffballs" are automatically harmless & delicious.

                                                                                      Something looking like a blooming "Puffball", may not be an edible "Puffball".

                                                                                      Again - PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't just arbitrarily pick & cook mushrooms from your backyard without identification outside of the internet.

                                                                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                        Bacardi, trust me I won't. I do like to live!

                                                                                        1. re: RUK

                                                                                          Thank you. These threads on wild mushrooms always give me the heebie-jeebies because all too many many people get all warm & fuzzie over picking wild mushrooms when they don't have a clue.

                                                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                            Well, for me - I can look at a thousand pictures in books and on the internet, examine Spores over a white piece of paper etc etc - one realizes that so many mushrooms have similar and for me very confusing characteristics. Knowledge like that really needs to be passed along expert-person to person, I think. But I enjoy looking at them and imagine the taste.
                                                                                            I am still dreaming about that wonderful large Schnitzel with a heap of the freshest Chanterelles, accompanied by a glass of Beer as we had a few years ago in Leipzig. Those Chanterelles were brought in from Poland.

                                                                                2. re: Lillipop

                                                                                  Of note: a :skilled forager" who also worked as a cook for a convalescent hospital, just recently shares the "fruits" of his latest finds w/ some of the residents @ the hospital. Score @ this time: 2 residents dead; 5 hospitalized and their conditions critical.

                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                    Yes - I saw that news item as well. The "skilled forager" also happens to be one of the folks hospitalized. I can't believe a nursing home would allow someone to pick, cook, & serve wild mushrooms to elderly residents. Even if the mushrooms weren't deadly, many non-toxic wild mushrooms are dicey to consume if one has any sort of compromised immune system, & many cause allergic reactions & should just be "tasted" first rather than served as a meal.

                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      If you read my first comment upstream http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2997...
                                                                                      about the family dead after Mushroom consumption - the offender came from the same group of baskets/same source my mother bought. Except, my super careful mother always inspected them again singly and threw out those which she deemed suspicious.

                                                                                  2. Yesterday 11-13-2012 on Yahoo News there was an item about a California nursing home caregiver who lovingly gathered mushrooms from the nursing home grounds and made them into a mushroom soup as a special treat for a some of the patients. Four got sick and two died.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                      Very sad news, of course. It is unfortunate when people pick mushrooms practically at random and serve them. I hope if I'm in a nursing home that no one will go to the garden and pull a deadly root from a plant in the hemlock category, thinking it a parsnip, then cook it and kill me.