Mushrooms can be divided into edible and non-edible species, being able to distinguish between the two being essential for survival whenever you forage mushrooms to take them home to prepare or to prepare them on site, by the fire, next to your tent in the forest. The distinction might seem simple to make – after all, you would only need the right type of knowledge to be able to differentiate between edible varieties and poisonous ones –, but unfortunately, the situation is more complex, as even edible varieties can cause damage when harvested from the wrong place. To make sure that your mushroom picking trip to the woods is as enjoyable as it is safe, here are a few important questions to ask before eating your mushrooms.
Is This Mushroom Edible?
A company that provides researchers with psilocybe spores, affirms that mushroom species are not all very distinguishable, in some cases, an edible variety is different from a poisonous one in just one tiny feature, so whatever mushroom you are looking at, the question is never easy to answer. This means that you should only pick mushrooms that you are 100% sure when it comes to identification. To make you more confident, you can take with you a mushroom identifier in book form or you can download an application that identifies mushrooms based on pictures. If you are not perfectly sure, think about the old saying: “When in doubt, throw it out”.
Is This Mushroom in Good Condition?
You should never touch mushrooms that do not look fresh, not even if you are completely sure that the fungus you are looking at belongs to an edible species.
Do I Know the Area?
Some types of edible mushrooms tend to absorb heavy metals or other toxins from the areas where they thrive, so knowing where your mushrooms come from is always important. Some varieties, for example, should never be picked in coniferous forests because they tend to soak up chemicals that we should not ingest in these areas.
Has My Mushroom Come into Touch with a Poisonous Fungus?
In some cases, mushrooms can become contaminated – if you pick a large basket of edible mushrooms, but then you pick a poisonous one by mistake and put it into your basket, the best and safest way to proceed is to toss the entire basket of mushrooms.
Do I Know How to Prepare My Mushroom?
Some types of mushrooms should never be consumed in raw form because they are too difficult to digest for the human stomach if not treated with heat. Before you decide how to process your mushrooms, find out what is the safest and healthiest way to prepare them.
Do Not Experiment with New Varieties While Camping
Each type of mushrooms has a different effect – while you might think that your stomach has no problem digesting the mushrooms that you have tried so far, you might still be severely affected by a variety you have not tried before. To avoid having digestive issues while out camping, cook only with mushroom varieties that you already know and leave new experiences for when you arrive home.