Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mushrooming, by Jamie

Jamie, better known as Itinerant child recently posted an article on Expat web site Anglo Info about mushrooming, foraging is something I'm keen to learn more aboun.  if you read on my blog you know I like free foods but I'm not a gardener, I must try harder, I'm always keen to learn about foraging but nervous about doing it. So I'm going to learn, initially I will be posting other peoples articles, as I learn and experiment you will see my articles appear. Both Jamie and I would point out that neither of us are experts, if your not sure don't eat it, here in France you can take any suspect mushrooms to the chemist to be checked.
Over to you Jamie;
Picking wild mushrooms-some advice to help you start I keep coming across people all the time who say that they would love to try the experience of picking wild mushrooms whilst here in Brittany with its many woodlands and forests,but dont know where to start as they know nothing about it. Don't worry,for we all start from exactly the same place.I can recommend a couple of different varieties that you can look into,that are quite easy to learn and will give you good reward and a foothold in the gateway to mycology.

The best time to go out is in a rainy period,especially between 24 and 36 hours after a good downpour. Near the full moon is generally not a great time,as most wild mushrooms are like normal mushrooms in the sense that they grow far better in the dark,so you are better going out foraging when there is less moonlight.

Here are a couple of sorts to be getting on with-

Hydnum repandum,and two of its cousins are easy to recognise and cant really be mistaken for anything else,you just need to know what you are looking for.
These absolutely delicious autumnal woodland mushrooms ( both evergreen and deciduous) are small,creamy coloured and have the most distinctive characteristics on the underside of the mushroom head,in that they do not have gills,such as most mushrooms,or tubes like the bolette family,but lots of tiny little fleshy needles,hence them earning their name in English as hedgehog fungus.
Check them out in a guide book and on the internet so to get a good idea of them,and once you are comfortable with recognising them,you will of open up a new doorway to a taste sensation. In France you can take any wild mushrooms to the chemist,where they will identify them for free.If not then try and find someone in your local area who you can ask from time to time.
Kuo, M. (2003, August). Hydnum repandum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:
The bolette family has some of the finest mushrooms in,with the most renowned mushroom around the world-The king bolet or penny bun,or boletus edulis in latin,which is commonly known as the cepe
There are some 54 different types of bolette that commonly exist in western Europe,with only a few of these being toxic and easily recognisable due to the red colouration that appears upon them,or under the head.There are also a couple of edible red bolettes,but I always recommend that if you can easily confuse it with a toxic one,then dont risk it. Wild mushrooms are great,but not worth dying for.
(Picture from Photo: © Michael Wood)

Amongst all the other bolettess there are quite a few very tasty ones,that are quite easy to recognise,and you would have to be well off the mark to confuse them with anything,and if you did,then it would only be with a bitter tasting one,but not a toxic one.
There is only one that the true king bolette can really be mistaken for,and that is the boletet fiel,which is very bitter in taste,but if you look at the top of the stem(more like a trunk),you will see a very small grid pattern known as rectangulation which you will find on the king bolette and on most of the edible bolettes but not on this bitter tasting counterpart,however you have to look hard at this,as it is quite hard to see from a few feet away.
Do get to know boletus aereus and boletus badius too,as these are very distinctive with their dark brown colouration,and can only be confused with other tasty ones.

The bolette family or boletai is a very good family to learn about and gives you a good chance of finding a few when out walking in woodlands.

There are many more that you can learn about,but its best to start off when one or two types and then build your experience levels and knowledge over time,and I would say that these are two of the most common collections that you may come across and the best to be starting off with.

Do not just pick every mushroom you see,as some will be toxic and are best not touched.

Do take a wicker basket,as this allows air to get to the mushrooms,whereas any long period of time in a plastic bag can make them sweat,and sometimes even turn a good mushroom sour,however short spells in a bag generally are OK.

Only put the ones you are sure with in your basket,and dont mix uncertainties with them,as you could get toxic spores on your treasures. Always get on your hands and knees to check out mushrooms,rather than just breaking them all to get a good look at them as they are a part of the eco system all the same. its always worth taking a couple of bags as well,one to put your uncertainties in,and one to bring back any litter you find whilst you are out there.

Take a guide book with you and you can have hours of fun stopping and figuring out which different ones are,but try and touch only the ones that you are fairly certain about.

When checking out various sites on the internet for verification,always try a few sites,so you can compare the info with others,at least then you know that the article hasn't been written by a nutter.
I am pretty knowledgeable with my mushrooms,and have come across a few bad articles,but look around and compare and you will soon learn very good sites to use.
My favourites are in French,so probably only helpful to a few of you.

DO check out which ones are the most fatal and become familiar with them,so you know never to touch them when you see them.

Most of all do remember that you are walking around a natural habitat so in respect for all that live there,keep the noise down,try not to damage plants and take your rubbish home with you,even though I doubt I need to mention that here.

mushrooming can be great fun,mentally stimulating,great exercise but most of all a very very tasty experience,but I will yet again remind you to always treat this subject with the great caution that is required and never ever try or touch anything that you are not sure about.

Feel free to ask me any questions on

Happy mushrooming

love,light and luck

Update from Jamie
Something that I forgot to mention,which is very relevant to the larger mushrooms such as the bolettes,is that as they age they may often get worms eating into them,as you do in apples and veggies,so the best way to find this out is to look at the base of the foot,where (this I forgot to mention too) you will off cut your mushroom near the base (never pull them out of the ground,as it severely risks the chance of them growing back in the same place next year) have a look at the bottom and see if there are holes in it,where the worms may of travelled up. cut your mushroom in slices every few centimetres and check if the holes continue,and keep cutting till you get to a hole free part of the mushroom.

Slice the entire head of the mushroom in half and you will see if there are any holes in there,and if so,methodically cut out the sections with worm,until you get pieces without puncture marks.

sometimes you can find bolettes of a kilo without one worm,but this is something that happens with age,as they are not only delicious for us,but for other creatures too,so often enough a smaller specimen will have more chance of being worm free,and are often tastier.

More updates from Jamie
The bolet satan(in french) or in latin boletus satanus is the most toxic of the boletai but is extremely rare in Brittany,and is often confused with the pied rouge(red foot),but as pre mentioned,steer clear of any bolets with red on them.

The bolets Satan and the pied rouge are two of the largest examples of this family and can grow to over two kilos in size,but trust in nature and except red as danger.

If you have learnt about pied de mouton ( hedgehog fungus ) Then I shall take you a step further with this family by telling you about another version that exists around these parts.

What you can also find here is Hydnum rufescens which mycologists in the uk also refer to as the terracotta hedgehog (yet again with the fleshy needles underneath,which is common with the hydnaceae family),which is in general in its full grown state,much smaller than the well known hedgehog fungus,and is more of a rusty colour instead of beige,this mushroom tastes delicious after a fairly long fry,and then put to simmer in any creamy sauce,yum yum.,but noticeably not as nice in omelettes as its big brother is.
They are a little less common,but do grow in some of Brittany's woodlands,but are more prolific at higher altitudes near the mountains.

One thing that I have learnt this year is that there are various different colour changes and shape changes of the same type of mushroom depending on what part of the country you are in,but also in the alpine regions you must have your wits about you even more as there are many thousands of different species,that you do not come across in Brittany,as well as all the ones you find here.

Bon appetit

Hydnum rufescens, commonly known as the Terracotta Hedgehog, is an edible basidiomycete of the Family Hydnaceae

Another update

Another mushroom that just popped into my mind that is sure thing which you can sometimes come across out in the middle of a field,is the giant puffball or Calvatia gigantea in Latin which very much resembles a white football,if not a little bigger.If you find one of these and you give it a bit of a squeeze and it feels really firm then it is in its edible state.

I like to slice them into half inch steaks and shallow fry them in garlic butter and onion and serve them as an entrée,but you can also use them by dicing them and using them in stir fries in place of tofu,or by using them instead of eggplant in any eggplant recipe's.

Make sure that they are still very white and solid though,as when they start going soft and turning brown its for the release of the trillions (no exaggeration) of spores. You may well of kicked one at some stage in your life.

Quite a nutty come earthy taste to this one.

 Jamie was asked about this mushroom.
Fuliginosa ou lépiote élevée ou coulemelle – Crédit : René Chalange
Straight away I thought that I knew,but was a little confused by the pinkish colouring,which I had doubts about being on the mushroom,and more so being on the photo,so was going to say that I cant be certain,then realised that there were others underneath which went on to confirm that my instant reaction was correct.

It is in latin a lepiote elevee,in French coulmelle,and in English a parasol. There are two types of field parasols, one being this one, the other being the shaggy parasol (which If I remember correctly is a lepiote procera) which is similar, but must be cooked a bit longer or can lead to digestion, but as with any wild mushrooms you are always better leaving them in the pan just a little longer than you would with normal mushrooms.

When they grow to this size,they cant be confused with anything else,and you will find them in fields, gardens and hedgerows and occasionly in woodlands.
There is a much smaller version that grows in woodlands which is toxic,  but does not grow anywhere near the size of these two.

Very edible,and mix well with other mushrooms and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

I'm starting my education here

Keith of "A Taste of Garlic" fame has a mushroom blog, loads of photographs and videos of his mushrooming, its not been updated for a while but still worth a look if only to admire Keiths hat.