5 of the most common edible mushrooms
The modern man has lost the connection to nature. Before, you had to grow your food, hunt it or forage for it. Now, if you’re hungry you call the pizza joint down the street and order. This constant reliance on others for food is what will get most people killed when a catastrophe hits.
But we aren’t most people now are we? Survivalists are aware of the imminent dangers that we’re facing and we’re taking steps in ensuring that we don’t become victims.
Foraging is one of the key skills you need to master if you want to live off the land in case of a life changing disaster. Nature can provide you with a wide variety of foods, plants and herbs that will prove vital to your survival.
Mushrooms are among the most common food you can find when you’re out and about, but as you might know, it can also be the most common source of death. Telling which mushroom is safe to eat and which is not takes some practice and one big rule : Do not eat any mushrooms until you are 100% sure their safe.
To get you started on finding out what different poison mushrooms look like you can check out this link. Some basic info regarding these mushrooms is that they normally grow in the ground and tend to have specific shapes and coloring, but unfortunately this is not always true. So if you want to make sure that the mushrooms is safe to eat, pick it, put it in a separate bag (so that you don’t accidentally mix it with mushrooms you are 100% sure they’re edible and take it to your local biologist or check your field guide.
Another piece of advice I give you is that the first couple of times you go foraging for mushrooms you bring an expert with you.
But before you set out on a quest to find mushrooms, you need to know where to look for them. From backyards to forests, mushrooms grow everywhere. Most grow from rotting tree stumps or composting plant concentrations. Sometimes it may be hard to find them on the ground as brush, grass and scrub might hide them, but don’t despair as many grow in the knots of tree branches, so remember to look up as well.
So now that we know where to look, I’ll show you what to look for. These are 5 of the most common edible mushrooms you can find in the wild.
These appear in early to mid-spring after the first wildflowers begin to emerge. They are considered an absolute delicacy in many parts of North America. They tend to grow in groups and can be dried for later use, or used within a few days to a week after harvest.
Morel has a lighter color cap and more distinctive honeycomb ridge folds. They often have hollow insides when cut vertically and the stem stops at the beginning of the cap. Most true morels have taller caps than the stem.
When gathering this specific mushroom pay close attention not to pick false morels (poisonous mushroom), which look like this:
As you can see the cap is distorted with no ridges, looks like a dark orange/brown brain and if you were to cut it vertically you will find that it has a solid inside and that the stem goes all the way to the top of the cap.
- Golden chanterelles
Another very popular mushroom that grows across North America and appears from June to September is the chanterelle. They’re usually found in the woods, often in pine stands or under stands of oaks and maples.
- Black trumpets
Black trumpets are related to chanterelles, but have a distinctive, trumpet shape. When you see it all black like that you would think to avoid it, but don’t, as they are very tasty. You’ll find these mushrooms growing out of rotting stumps and deadfalls in deciduous forests.
- Porcini mushrooms
Porcini tend to emerge from compost in the ground and can be found in fields and forests. Their color varies from a light red to shades of brown. Remember to always use the field guide in order to properly identify these mushrooms.
- Hen of the woods
These mushrooms have a wonderful flavor, keep well, and grow in bunches up to 50 pounds. They appear in the fall and grow on the trunks of deadfall trees and the base of stumps.
In order to properly gather mushrooms you’ll need several items:
- 1 to 5 gallon plastic bucket
- Knife for slicing stems from the ground or deadfall trees
- 1 gallon plastic bags if you want to separate species of mushrooms
- A Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms
If the mushrooms in your area grow mostly up in the trees, you might need a tree pole as well.
Mushroom foraging can be fun and educative, but also dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. So always make sure to learn as much as possible about the different types of poisonous mushrooms in your area and how to tell them apart from the edible ones. These list above can prove as a starting point in your journey of mastering this crucial skill.
What other edible mushrooms you know of? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.