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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Ted goes viral


.. oops make that fungal as in fungi as in one of the most diverse of nature’s wonderful autumn bounties … mushrooms. They come in all shapes and sizes, colours, textures, and tastes. Nowadays many varieties of mushrooms are commercially grown but lots of others are still collected from their “wild” preferred habitats, ranging from meadowlands to woodlands and pretty much everywhere in between.

In the wild however they are not always that easy to find as they blend in with their surroundings. Hunting successfully for mushrooms calls for the same set of disciplines and skills that you need to apply in order to overcome “fridge blindness”. What on earth is “fridge blindness Ted?” I hear you ask (you know I did) well ... it’s when you go to the refrigerator late at night and you discover that when you open the door the bright fridge light temporarily renders you unable to find the item you are looking for. No sooner have you shouted out “where has that jar of curried seagull eggs gone?” than your eyes get accustomed to the light and you can suddenly see all the things before you, all hidden in plain view … and that’s what it’s like hunting for mushrooms.


You have to stand very still until your eyes can adjust and unearth them from their camouflage. Some
of them are very clever, little yellow and brown chanterelles for example like to hang out with birch trees under cover of the fallen yellow and brown birch leaves. I found this little clump of mushrooms in Hyde Park the other morning under an oak tree, where they were originally nestling under lots of fallen oak leaves. I sent the picture off to Daniel Butler mushroom hunter extraordinaire in Wales and he said that they looked like very young honey fungus (Armillaria melea), were edible, but should be well cooked – I left them in the park to grow up.

Had I been in France or Italy I could have taken my mushrooms to the local chemist/pharmacy where they are trained to identify the edible as well as the inedible (cos they just don’t taste good or are tough) and the dangerous poisonous varieties ... like wait for it … “Death Cap”.

What's really nice is that edible mushrooms are really low in calories, you can even eat them raw (think thinly sliced with fresh strawberries in a strawberry vinaigrette) safe in the knowledge that you’re getting loads of B vitamins and trace elements like selenium, copper, phosphorus and potassium … yippee …

6 comments:

Stefan Jansson said...

I can't eat them, but I sometimes photograph them in the forest.

Sharon Anck said...

You are making me hungry again! I have a great recipe for a spinach salad with fresh sliced mushrooms and bits of tasty bacon. I haven't had it a while so I might have to fix one today.

Jenny Woolf said...

I am always concerned that they will be over harvested. I love to see mushrooms growing and feel as sad to see them picked as I do when people pick wild flowers. I wonder if I am alone in this.

William Kendall said...

I'd have no idea which were edible, so I would never pick them. I don't like mushrooms on their own, but as part of pizza or a pasta dish, they're good.

Jack said...

Ted, you are so well-informed. Still, I would rather find my mushrooms at the grocery store.

Angie said...

Mushrooms on the menu tonight (bought from shop!)

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