Foraging for wild mushrooms is an activity that is gaining in popularity amongst foodies and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It is a great way to spend a relaxing day with friends, hiking in the woods, carefully combing the forest floor for these camouflaged culinary treats. There are over 20 edible varieties that grow in the Northeast though less than a dozen are harvested regularly with some effort. The prized mushrooms in this area include the morels, chanterelles, black trumpets, maitake and king boletes.
In terms of taste and flavor, wild mushrooms are in a class of their own. Celebrated by Master Chefs all over the world for their distinctive taste and sought after by epicureans, wild mushrooms have held a special place in Haute Cuisine for generations. Versatile and easy to prepare these gastronomic gems enhance almost any dish by adding an earthy refinement.
Wild mushroom varieties have several counterparts that are poisonous (and some deadly), so proper identification is crucial. When first starting out, it is best to be accompanied by an experienced forager and have your harvest properly identified by a mycologist. Education and preparation is essential to a good mushroom hunt from wearing the proper attire to carrying a field guide and compass, as well as packing plenty of water and food.
- Respect nature
- Leave no trace behind
- Pick only what you need
- Identify properly and with certainty
- Be prepared; track your route,
pack properly, bring a companion
- Do not pick where prohibited
- Educate yourself
- Sample new varieties in small amounts
- Always cook your mushrooms
- Share your bounty and knowledge
There are risks to consuming wild mushrooms and it is recommended that they not be eaten raw. Always purchase these from a reliable source. Should you suspect that you may have eaten a poisonous mushroom, take the following action:
- Call your local hospital or physician immediately.
- If possible, bring a sample of the mushroom that you have consumed to your doctor or hospital.
- Contact a local mycologist that can definitely identify the mushroom that you have ingested.
- Contact your local poison control center 800/222-1222