While I always encourage people to take an interest in fungi for their scientific and aesthetic merits I know that most people who look for wild fungi are looking for something  to eat. This is perfectly safe if done with great care (I have eaten over 120 species and never suffered so much as hiccups), but with at least 20 species known to be deadly, a hasty decision could easily be your last. Every year I talk to people who have managed to poison themselves and it is always through lack of knowledge and lack of care.

So, before you eat anything you find here is some advice.

1. Never eat any fungus if you are not absolutely sure of it name.

2. Never take any notice of old wives tales about silver spoons, or whether or not you can peel it, or if it grows on wood it’s OK and so on. These are all complete rubbish.

3. Familiarize yourself with the poisonous species such as the Death Cap and the Yellow Stainer.

4. Use your books carefully, making sure that the descriptions and the photographs (and the key, if it has one) all agree with each other.

5. Always use more than one book.

6. Always gently lever unknown mushrooms out of the ground and handle them with care. This will preserve important characters for identification.

6. Always try a little of a fungus the first time you eat it to check if it agrees with you.

7. In general you should cook wild fungi as some are quite poisonous raw.

8. Don’t mix up your known edible finds with your unknowns in the same basket.

9. As with fireworks on 5th November, only one person in any kitchen should be in charge of which mushrooms are cooked - free-for-alls or committees can be disastrous.

Foraging Courses with John Wright

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Mushroom foray in the New Forest
New Forest mushroom foray
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Mushroom foray in the New Forest
New Forest mushroom foray
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