Friday, August 20, 2010


Mushrooms galore!

My four mile morning hike took a lot longer than usual because there is a profusion of mushrooms. Its really hot and humid in my neck of the woods and with all the rotting vegetation a more perfect environment can not be found.

We have a great reference book on mushrooms. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
a 926 page leather bound work with color photos has caught my attention more than once. Earlier this spring I used it to identify and taste some shelf mushrooms, nearly all of which are edible.

Now, there are a lot of mushrooms out there. Its like being introduced to an auditorium of strangers. Its impossible to remember every ones name and home town when presented with such a huge group all at once.

Mushrooms have all sorts of names: Deadly Conocybe, Destroying Angel, Yellow Patches, Slimy-veil Limacella and many more. These names give me a clue that I better just take one at a time, get to know it by sight, feel, smell, and if safe, taste. Taste is the very last thing where mushrooms are concerned.

The above, white mushroom, looks suspiciously like the Destroying Angel. and its cousin the Cleft-Foot Amanita. Further research states that it is one of the most strikingly beautiful , found alone , shining white against a brown background . Very poisonous, the symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and cramps. Kidney and or liver dysfunction follow and without treatment can result in death.
Humm, this is why I research what I eat. Better to go hungry.

This mushroom looks like the Smooth Chanterelle, which is considered choice eating. If I was going to taste it, I would look for the following next time I see one: size 1-4 " cap, flesh thick at center, fruity odor,stalk 1-4 inches long and 1/4-1 inch thick. I would be sure the flesh was white, solid and becoming hollow.

I would take the field guide with me to read everything just to be sure. Mushrooms can be hallucinogenic or poisonous.

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