In: food, foraging. Also: health.


Edible fungi for beginners

A long list of mushrooms above:

Amethyst deceiver (laccaria amethystina) 🍴 Autumn

Very common and beautifully coloured
Mushroomy taste and keeps its colour when cooked, a bright addition to any meal

Artist’s conk, artist bracket (ganoderma applanatum) 💊 all-year

Artist’s Conk is a close cousin to the most famous mushroom in the world asian reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), the eastern reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) and northwest reishi (Ganoderma oregonense).
Artist’s Conk has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and its use spans multiple continents, from Asia to Africa to North America. Other polypore mushrooms have been used in Europe historically.
The bitterness of this mushroom is due in significant part to chemicals called triterpenes, which are extractable by alcohol. The mild sweetness is due to fungal polysaccharides, which largely dissolve in water. This means that a tincture will taste more bitter, and a decoction (strong tea) will taste sweeter, relatively speaking. A double extract, containing both preparations, will be both bitter and sweet: the best of both worlds!

Bay bolete (imleria badia, boletus badius) 🍴 Aug-Nov

A fairly common and widespread species in Britain and Ireland, the Bay Bolete is found throughout temperate parts of Europe and North America.
One large Bay Bolete makes a splendid meal for 2, because these mushrooms are usually big and chunky.
Good when fresh with the pores removed, better when dried.
Can look like other Boletes but if you stick to the simple rule of avoiding any Bolete with red on the stem, pores or cap, you will only pick edible Boletes.
The stem is one of the most obvious defining features of this edible mushroom; it is neither smooth nor reticulate (covered in a net pattern) but lined vertically with shallow brown ridges on a paler background.
Bay Boletes don’t often host maggots.

Beefsteak fungus, ox-tongue fungus (fistulina hepatica) 🍴 Aug-Nov

Beefsteak mushrooms provide many benefits, including medicinal properties. For example, they’re antioxidant, antibacterial, nematicidal, which means it kills nematodes (a kind of parasite), and provide anti-tumor benefits.
Beefsteak mushrooms are in their most edible state when they’re really young and fresh because they’re tender.

Birch polypore, razor strop (piptoporus betulinus) 💊 Aug-Nov

Mushroomy taste, little bitter
Antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour.

Chanterelle 🍴 May-Nov

Cantharellus cibarius, Cantharellus amethysteus, Cantharellus pallens
Chanterelle mushrooms contain significant levels of amino-acids, riboflavin, fiber, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and potassium. This combination of nutrients and minerals can be useful in cases of anemia and physical or mental stress.

Chicken of the woods, crab of the woods, sulphur polypore, giant canary fan (laetiporus sulphureus) 🍴 May-Aug

Mushroomy taste and said to taste like chicken, it has the same texture as chicken and is good in stews as a veggie ‘meat’
Best eaten young as the older specimens become woody and acrid to the taste. Should be cooked before consumption.
Chicken of the woods mushrooms have a long history in European folk medicine. They were used to fight infection; it is antioxidant, antibacterial, and has anti-carcinogenic properties. It can promote hormonal balancing and dental care, it’s anti-inflammatory, has antimicrobial properties and it help treat diabetes.

Clouded agaric, clouded funnel (clitocybe nebularis, agaricus nebularis) 🍴 Sep-Dec

Autumn mushroom, pretty common throughout Britain and Ireland, sometimes found in large fairy rings.
Can cause alarming gastric upsets in a number of people (meaning at least 2 days stuck on the toilet). Must be cooked before consumption.
I have personally tasted it with butter and garlic and it’s super tasty!
Somewhat similar to the Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda), but it has pale lilac sinuate gills.
Also similar to Entoloma sinuatum, but it has yellowish gills at maturity and its spores are pink rathet than white.
Video: – blewits & clouded agaric

Common bonnet (mycena galericulata, mycena rugosa) ? all-year

Small and insubstantial, not worth eating.
Common in Britain and Ireland, where it is widely distributed.

Death cap (amanita phalloides) 💀 Jul-Nov

DO NOT eat any part of this mushroom. Half a cap is enough to kill a human.
The roman Emperor Claudius was believed to of been poisoned by his wife with the death cap, she made him a meal of Caesar’s mushrooms and added some death caps. Emperor Charles the VI died due to death cap poisoning. The death cap has been the weapon of many poisoners through the centuries especially by ancient Greeks and Romans.

Destroying angel (amanita virosa) 💀 Jul-Nov

A beautiful, but deadly mushroom. No known antidote.
Some small mamals rabbits and squirrels have been seen to eat this mushroom.
In northern Europe it usually appear in July, August and September. A similar species, Amanita verna, commonly known as Fool’s Mushroom, appears in springtime.

Field blewit, pied violet, blue leg (lepista saeva) 🍴 Oct-Jan

A safe mushroom for the novice forager as there are no look-a-likes in the UK.
Keeps growing into winter and only a really harsh frost will finish them off.
Tastes perfumed and mushroomy. Must be cooked before consumption.

Fly agaric, shamans gift (amanita muscaria) 🍄 Aug-Dec

Considered toxic but not deadly
Has hallucinogenic properties which the Lapps have used traditionally in ceremonies and even to round up reindeer who seem to love them
Forms a symbiotic relationship with many trees, most specifically pine, spruce, fir, birch and cedar, so can be found in many woodlands

Grey spotted amanita, false panthercap (amanita excelsa, amanita spissa) ? Jul-Oct

Not a safe mushroom for novice foragers as it can be difficult to distinguish it from the toxic Panthercap and other deadly Amanitas
Quite a frequent find in many parts of Britain and Ireland.

Hedgehog, wood urchin, wood hedgehog, pied du mouton (hydnum repandum) 🍴 Aug-Oct

Excellent taste, sweet, nutty and with a crunchy texture, a gourmet mushroom
Hedgehog mushrooms are amongst the easiest mushrooms for beginners to identify

Hen of the woods, maitake (grifola frondosa) 🍴 Aug-Nov

Has a good mushroomy taste that is strengthened by drying
Fairly uncommon

Honey fungus (armillaria mellea) 🍴 Sep-Nov

Must be cooked before consumption, can cause slight gastric upsets in a small number of people
Experts recommend that you pre-boil them first before cooking to deactivate any toxic compounds, 5 minutes of boiling are enough. Once you pre-boil them, you can then enjoy them as they are with a bit of oil, lemon and salt, or use them in stir-fries, soups and stews.

Horn of plenty, black trumpet, trompette de la mort (craterellus cornucopioides) 🍴 Aug-Oct

Very easy to identify for newbies.
Excellent taste. Can be easily dried and stored for a long time.

Jelly ears, wood ears, tree ears (auricularia auricula-judae) 🍴 all-year

This fungi helps to decompose dead (and dying) Elder trees
Soft taste, but good if used in Asian style cooking or dried, ground to a fine powder and used as stock
It has no flavour on its own and absorbs pretty well any character of the ingredients it is cooked with, making them a perfect vehicle for all your favourite flavours, like you would use tofu
Wood ears do not have any poisonous look-alikes which is handy when foraging
Video: – Wood ears, cloud ears, auricularia auricula-judae

Liberty cap, magic mushrooms (psilocybe semilanceata) 🍄 Sep-Dec

Midl magical mushroom
For some stupid reason, illegal in some countries
Video: – All about the liberty cap – Finding liberty caps and comparing to the common lookalikes

Morel (morchella vulgaris, morchella esculenta) 🍴 Mar-May

One of the first mushrooms of spring.
All Morels are highly prized of all edible mushrooms. Very good taste, but requires thorough cleaning to remove mud, debris and insects.
Must be well cooked before consumption. It’s a good mushroom to dehydrate.
All Morels are poisonous when raw or undercooked causing gastric upsets and other alarming symptoms
Even as an “easy to identify” wild mushroom, they still have four common look-alikes, some of which are toxic ☠️
Most morel mushroom look-alikes can be eliminated simply by cutting the mushrooms in half. They should be completely hollow from the tip of the cap all the way down through the stem base. This alone eliminates most of the morel look-alikes.

Oyster mushroom, hiratake, tamogitake (pleurotus ostreatus) 🍴 all-year

One of the easiest fungi to identify and it’s fairly common in deciduous woods. Appreciated by foragers, Oysters are very versatile for culinary use and prized by its meaty texture
Really tasty and mushroomy
They help decompose dead wood and recycle nutrients

Panther cap, false blusher (amanita pantherina) 💀 Jul-Nov

These mushrooms contain the psychoactive compounds ibotenic acid, muscimol, muscazone and muscarine so should be considered toxic. Some field guides list it as deadly.
Quite a rare find in Britain, the Panthercap is much more common in southern Europe.

Parasol (macrolepiota procera) 🍴

Quite a popular choice for cooking, especially in Europe and the U.K. and their big fleshy cap is ideal for producing creative twists to famous foods like pizza or pie crusts
When young, this mushroom looks very similar to some of the deadly amanitas, due to the fact it emerges from a sack-like structure and can have a similar looking cap
Frequent in southern Britain and Ireland, Parasols are less common in northern England and Scotland except for sheltered coastal locations.

Penny bun, cep, porcini, king bolete (boletus edulis) 🍴 Aug-Oct

Excellent raw or fried in butter when fresh. Very mushroomy, one of the best species to dry where the mushroom flavour is enhanced.
No poisonous mushrooms look similar, all the poisonous Boletus such as the Satans Boletus are either very red in the flesh or sponge, or stain blue immediately on cutting.
Fairly frequent throughout Britain and Ireland as well as on mainland Europe and in Asia.

Pheasant back, dryad’s saddle (cerioporus squamosus, polyporus squamosus) 🍴 May-Aug

When they’re large they can get tough, so it’s best to harvest them young
This is the largest capped mushroom in the UK and can until become so heavy it can no longer support itself and will fall from it’s position and be found unattached at the base of the tree
It would be difficult to confuse this mushroom with any other
Dryad’s Saddle is high in antioxidants, which is why it can help your body fight free radicals and help prevent cancer and tumors. Antioxidants can also boost your immune system a boost.

Porcelain fungus (mucidula mucida, oudemansiella mucida) 🍴 Aug-Nov

The Porcelain Fungus, is specific to beech wood. It appears in autumn on dead trunks and on fallen branches, and occasionally it also grows on dead branches high up in living trees.
Common and widespread in Britain and Ireland.
It is not really possible to confuse this mushroom with any other with its porcelain look and slimy top
Good mushroomy taste when the slime is washed off and the mushroom cooked. Should be cooked before consumption.

Puffballs 🍴 Jul-Sept

Giant puffball (calvatia gigantea), Common puffball (lycoperdon perlatum)
Found on grasslands, pasture, lawns, commons and roadsides, either in rings, troops or individually
Can be sliced and fried like a steak or breaded and fried for a better texture

Scarletina bolete (neoboletus praestigiator, boletus luridiformis, boletus erythropus) 🍴 Jul-Oct

This mushroom is a great edible, but great caution should be taken in distinguishing it from any toxic Boletes, not a mushroom for the novice forager!
Similar to a Penny Bun. Must be cooked before consumption.

Shaggy inkcap, shaggy mane, lawyer’s wig (coprinus comatus) 🍴 Apr-Nov

The “ink cap” name derives from the fact that, once they have spored, these mushrooms turn into a thick black ink

Snowy waxcap (hygrocybe virginea, cuphophyllus virgineus) ? Sep-Dec

Care should always be applied when foraging for mushrooms with a white cap, white gills and a white stem as some of the most poisonous mushrooms in the UK are white all over!

Spring cavalier (melanoleuca cognata) 🍴 Spring

Similar to the “clouded agaric”, but grows in spring.

Tawny funnel cap ((para)lepista flaccida, clitocybe flaccida) ? Jul-Nov

A very common mushroom to find in Autumn. Considered edible, but not tasty

The prince (Agaricus augustus) 🍴 Jul-Nov

Excellent taste. Mushroomy. The flesh smells of bitter almonds. Should be cooked before consumption.

Turkey tail (trametes versicolor) 💊 all-year

Inedible, without distinct taste or smell
It is a medicinal mushroom with all kinds of amazing benefits
Video: – Turkey tail mushroom, its look-alikes, & medicinal benefits with Adam Haritan – How to identify turkey tail mushrooms and distinguish from lookalikes

Wavy caps, blueleg brownie, potent psilocybe (psilocybe cyanescens) 🍄

Potent magical mushroom.

White saddle, elfin saddle, common helvella (helvella crispa) ? Aug-Dec

No members of this family are considered edible so are not really of interest to foragers

Wine cap stropharia, burgundy mushroom, king stropharia (stropharia rugosoannulata) 🍴 spring-autumn

Winter chanterelle, trumpet chanterelle, yellow foot, yellow legs (cantherellus tubaeformis) 🍴 Aug-Dec

Super tasty. They work particularly well in pasta dishes.
Does not have true gills, they are more like folds or ridges

Wood blewit, pied bleu (lepista nuda, clitocybe nuda) 🍴 Oct-March

A commond & lovely gourmet mushroom.
The cap is smooth, almost suede-like appearing lavender purple if there is humidity. It will have leaf litter stuck to it from time to time, but it will NEVER be slimy or viscid.
It is rare to find just one blewit and they will often pop up in loose arcs or rings, in leaves. Blewits do not grow in bunches or on dead wood.
The wood blewit has been cultivated, but the cultivated blewits are said not to taste as good as wild blewits.
They have a strong flavor, so they combine well with garlic, leeks or onions.
Considered NOT a beginner’s mushroom, can be easily confused with other bluish mushrooms growing in the fall, so you should be prepared and able to make a spore print for positive identification of this mushroom.
Video: – wood blewit – blewits & clouded agaric


Edible wild mushrooms for beginners
Beginning mushroom foragers are often told to start with the “foolproof four” or 4 types of mushrooms that are tasty supposedly incredibly easy to identify
They include:

Keep in mind that just because these are “easy to identify” it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do any work to positively ID them. That said, if you put in the time and verify their characteristics in the most basic way, you shouldn’t have a problem.
There are a lot more than four easy-to-identify mushrooms out in the woods. By my count, there are more than a dozen.
Some of them, such as pheasant backs and chicken of the woods mushrooms actually have no close look-alikes at all and are pretty hard to mess up.
These are all easy to identify edible wild mushrooms:

The best wild mushrooms to forage for beginners
5 easiest to ID edible mushrooms found in the UK:

Edible wild fungi

The different types of mushrooms

Deadly and toxic mushrooms UK

How to make a mushroom double extraction

Fill a quart-sized glass jar halfway with dried mushrooms
Fill jar with alcohol, making sure it completely covers the mushrooms, but leave about a 1/2-inch space at the top of the jar. Place parchment paper between jar and lid to prevent the alcohol from corroding the lid.
Let jar sit on the counter for a month. Shake daily.
When ready, strain mushroom-infused alcohol into another jar. This is your alcohol extraction. Set aside both alcohol extract and mushrooms while you prepare the next step of the double extraction.
Bring half a gallon of water to a simmer in a stock pot. Add the mushrooms from the alcohol extract to the simmering water.
Simmer the mushrooms for about 2 hours, until the water has reduced to approximately 8-16 ounces. Make sure to keep an eye on the water level, as you don’t want it to completely evaporate. You may need to add water to the stock pot throughout the process.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Strain and compost the mushrooms using a funnel and cheesecloth, reserving the mushroom-infused water. This is your water extract.
Combine the water extract with the alcohol extract. Now you have a mushroom double extract that’s shelf stable!

Introduction to the the Amanita family of mushrooms

There are some good edible Amanitas but it’s also the family that contains some of the world’s most poisonous mushrooms such as the Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides,) and the Destroying Angel (Amanita Virosa)

Foraging for Brittlegills (Russula’s)

Identifying mushrooms correctly/ how to identify mushrooms

Three serious english poisonous mushroom incidents in 3 weeks
There has been a spate of poisonings and near-poisonings involving wild fungi in England this August.
This year the main fungi season has started early, and some species have been fruiting very abundantly, and this includes some of the most dangerous poisonous species. Combined with the ever-increasing number of people foraging for fungi in the UK, a spate of incidents involving poisonous varieties was probably inevitable.
However, these incidents expose a persistent myth - a hangover from our long-standing mycophobia. The impression given is that fungi foraging is a dangerous pastime and even “experts” can get into serious trouble. This is simply not true, as anybody who really does know what they are doing will confirm.

Ways to consume amanita muscaria

How to prepare amanita muscaria

A beginner’s guide to Amanita muscaria mushrooms

The red mushroom with white spots is a fixture of psychedelic art, but is it psychedelic?
It’s a fairly large and hard to miss mushroom, usually measuring around five to 20 centimetres wide.
It’s got quite a rich history. In parts of northern Europe and Central Asia, it was often used in old folk and shamanic traditions, and, according to the US Forest Service, pre-Christian cultures used it during Winter Solstice celebrations.
A good starting dose of Amanita muscaria is said to be one small mushroom cap or less than five grams. If it’s your first time, definitely start slow - the level of active ingredients in each A. muscaria cap varies wildly depending on rainfall, geography, host tree species, and more, so you never truly know what you’re getting.

Eating Santa’s shroom
Caribou will seek out Amanita muscaria just for the high - or at least it looks that way to us humans. So it’s not too far a stretch to conjure up an image of a jolly, roaringly drunk, fat, bearded dude all dressed up for the North Pole - in a red suit with white trim - chillin’ with flying reindeer.
The Japanese around Nagano eat Amanita muscaria as pickles, as do the Lithuanians, Finns and Russians.
The key to boiling seems to be time and water volume. You need enough water to leach out all the toxins of the mushroom, so it follows that the more muscaria you boil, the more water you’ll need. As for time, it seems 15 minutes is a pretty good interval, according to my sources.
Fly agaric is one of the easiest mushrooms in the world to identify. Even though it has some color variation, like the yellow-orange one below, if you stick to the red and orange color phases Amanita muscaria is unmistakable.
Fly agaric appears to be attractive to dogs and cats and can kill them if they eat it, so keep it away from your pets!

Amanita Muscaria is edible if parboiled

Parboiled, it is a prime edible mushroom. Uncooked, it can be an inebriant and can make you vomit.

Magic Mushrooms: The complete beginner’s guide

Written by Natalie Saunders, B.A., LicAc, medically reviewed by Lynn Marie Morski, MD, Esq.
Updated on 23 Sep 2020

Jamie Pybus designs Fungi Factory kit for growing mushrooms in coffee grounds

By Augusta Pownall, posted 8 August 2019
Northumbia university graduate Jamie Pybus has devised a household system for cultivating edible mushrooms using leftover coffee grounds as a growing medium.
Called Fungi Factory, the kit provides a use for the increasing number of coffee grounds that are currently discarded by UK households.
Rather than throwing coffee grounds away, users can repurpose them as a bed for growing oyster mushrooms in just four weeks.
“The concept helps to highlight possibilities of waste recycling within the home by bringing the often unseen, circular economy into the hands and control of people,” said Pybus.
The system comprises four products, a storage container for grounds, a vessel for mixing the grounds with mycelium, a domed fruiting environment in which the mushrooms grow, and a grinder.
Loose coffee grounds are put into the storage container with mycelium spores. These spores germinate and starts the process of forming into mushrooms.
Coffee grounds are a good fertile medium for growing mushrooms and the kit offers an easy way to do this in a domestic environment.
“Shrinking space-intensive processes into a home-sized product is vital to the success of local manufacturing and food production,” said Pybus.

Growing products from fungus could be the start of a “biotechnological revolution”

By Benedict Hobson, posted 21 January 2015
Amsterdam designer Maurizio Montalti explains how biological organisms such as fungi could be harnessed to create new sustainable materials in this movie filmed in Eindhoven.
Montalti’s studio Officina Corpuscoli is researching how fungal organisms can be used to produce alternatives to plastics.
“It’s about envisaging a completely different paradigm in relation to production,” Montalti says. “It’s a paradigm based on cultivation”
Biologically produced materials can be “completely non-harmful,” he claims. “Once disposed of they just become new nutrients for new life”
With the right nutrients present, mycelium will grow in a range of different organic materials, such as straw or other forms of agricultural waste. When baked, the network of thread-like filaments is transformed into a very durable and waterproof material.
“It is able to hold great stresses when it comes to compression or tension,” Montalti explains. “But one very interesting property relates to hydrophobicity. Most of these fungal organisms produce a membrane that renders them completely hydrorepellent”

Fungi Mutarium turns waste plastic into edible treats

By Dan Howarth, posted 10 December 2014
Austria-based Livin Studio has created a process to cultivate edible fungi that digests plastic as it grows.
First presented in Eindhoven last week, the Fungi Mutarium incubator was created as a prototype to grow the edible fungi around the plastic, breaking down and digesting the material as it develops.
They began working with two widely consumed types of fungus: Pleurotus Ostreatus, more commonly known as Oyster Mushroom and found on Western supermarket shelves, and Schizophyllum Commune, colloquially named Split Gill that is eaten in Asia, Africa and Mexico.
“We mainly cultivated the ‘mycelium’ rather than the typical ‘mushroom’ fruit bodies,” Livin Studio founder Katharina Unger told Dezeen. “Both fungi show characteristics to digest waste material while remaining edible biomass.”
The cultures are grown within egg-shaped pods made from agar - a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed - to simulate the natural surfaces that the fungi traditionally grows on.
Plastic is placed within the pods along with diluted mycelium cultures - which are stored in a holding tank on one side and delivered into each agar case via a large pipette.
These cultures develop over the agar as they slowly digest the waste material, filling the space inside the pod.
“It can take several months until the plastic is fully digested by the fungi,” said Unger. “This is the part of the project that is still ongoing research. Our research partner [Utrecht University] expects that the digestion will go much quicker once processes are fully researched and optimised”


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