Have you ever wanted to go foraging for mushrooms? Well, what if I told you they aligned with a sustainable lifestyle!? Allow me to show you and tell you how.
Firstly, I want to clarify that I’m going to be talking about foraging mushrooms typically cooked in a dinner meal, not the other kind. Ha!
WHY FORAGE MUSHROOMS
An amazing reason to forage Mushrooms is that it’s absolutely exhilarating to find your food, it’s like it awakens our natural instincts.
Also, the hunt for it can have the same excitement as a scavenger hunt. It’s so much fun!
Plus, mushrooms are full of nutrients and flavors. One of the most beautiful things about foraging mushrooms is that there are so many beautiful types, varieties, and aromas out there.
For instance, there is a mushroom that tastes like lobster, shrimp, maple syrup, chicken, or sometimes even tastes bland but picks up whatever flavor you give it, and more!
The possibilities are endless!!!
After foraging mushrooms for the last few years, I’ve come to realize that foraging mushrooms is also a great way to get connected back to nature, embrace fall, and enjoy the rain.
HOW FORAGING MUSHROOMS IS SUSTAINABLE
A great myth that people often think is once they pull a mushroom, that it won’t grow back.
This is, actually, completely untrue, mushrooms come back year after year. The mycelium (mushrooms) roots go deeper than tree roots do, and are not anything we can simply remove by a simple pluck. Although cutting keeps the mushrooms cleaners!
Plus, each mushroom is capable of releasing over 1 billion spores per day. A spore is like a mushroom’s version of a seed!
I found this out after attending one of David Arora’s speeches, he is one of the famous authors I recommend near the end of this article.
♻ Sustainable Tip/Highlight: Guess what?!? Mushrooms grow in abundance and can offer a whole new flush after every rainfall. Not only that, they come plastic-free, cruelty-free, and naturally come pesticide-free if foraged! Seriously, there is nothing better or more sustainable!
WHERE TO FORAGE MUSHROOMS
Typically, mushrooms grow best in a very moisture-rich environment around fallen trees or in pastures. (Not all mushrooms but most!)
Over time, once you’ve found the areas that offer the abundance you’re looking for, you’ll quickly start to take note of the environment.
Especially because mushroom flourishes come in waves and a whole new round could be back in as little as a few days.
For example, if you’re looking for chanterelles, you’ll want to look in mixed hardwood forests, in the late spring through late summer or early fall.
This variety is very hardy and incredibly vibrant with a slightly sweet smell.
PS: They are my favorite mushrooms!! They are so delicious and not mushy.
Also, there are mushrooms just about every season, depending upon where you live and what that climate is like.
WHAT TO USE FOR FORAGING
When foraging mushrooms, it’s important to note that you’ll want to be prepared for finding the mushrooms, of course.
Here is some great foraging equipment:
- A Pocket Knife
- Basket or Produce bag
- A Permit (where necessary): If you’re hunting on government land—and especially U.S. Forest Service land—chances are you’ll need a permit. These permits are usually free for noncommercial use. Also, Forest Service ranger stations will provide you with maps highlighting which areas are okay for picking, as well.
- A Laminated Black and White Paper– For Spore Prints
Truthfully, you really don’t need much. Just something to cut and something to hold.
Although, I must say that a knife with a little brush is absolutely perfect for wiping the dirt and debris off of the mushrooms!
Also, the basket can be any basket, but the one I linked above is an incredibly popular and beautiful one, made by people in Africa!
Fair warning, don’t store mushrooms in plastic at all, because mushrooms are primarily made up of water and will turn to mush. This can be said for foraging or even storing in the fridge.
An example of something better to carry the mushrooms would be a basket or even a reusable produce bag, both of the options offer breathability and allow the mushrooms to spread their spores!! Yay, more mushrooms!!
MUSHROOM FORAGING RESOURCES
Each variety of mushroom/mycelium has a different environment where it thrives. If you’re looking for a specific variety, check out these mushrooms resources I recommend:
- All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
- The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
- The Complete Mushroom Hunter Book — This is a fantastic introductory guide to mushroom foraging. This book gives some basic history, collections, as well as a general guideline for mushroom foraging. Perfect for someone just beginning. This book isn’t meant for cross-referencing and identifying variety, though.
- Also, there is a mushroom-identification app, called iNaturalist. However, it’s not the best to completely rely on and is typically good for just giving a general idea of the variety.
- Mycology Societies — these are local groups of individuals gathering from all over that general area to forage together, share their knowledge, and promote the science of mycology. Often times there will be hosting events, talks, classes, and forays (foraging groups).
HOW TO PREPARE WHAT YOU’VE FORAGED
First and foremost you’ll want to follow the recommendations given in these resources. Some mushrooms require cooking outside in an open environment, I typically opt out of those just for the safety of my digestive system.
However, not all mushrooms are like that, and most can simply be enjoyed with a little oil or vegan butter and salt, and pan-fried.
Especially that lobster mushroom, oh my goodness, that was one of the most delectable mushrooms that I’ve had!
If you’re eating a foraged species for the first time, try thoroughly cooking and sampling a small piece.
If a day or two passes, and you still feel fine, it should be okay for you to incorporate them into your diet.
*Even if the resources say it’s edible, we could still have an unknown allergy to them, and it’s best approached with caution.
In the books you’ll learn how to identify the differences and similarities between the cap, stem, volva, spore color, smell, bruising and much more.
⚠️ Warning ⚠️
There are thousands upon thousands of varieties of mushrooms. Please make sure to take the time to cross-examine and fully be able to identify, if there is any doubt in your mind about being able to identify a specific mushroom do not eat it!
Some mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes and fully being able to identify each of the poisonous and edible mushroom varieties will allow for you to build confidence and knowledge.
Just please go through the steps of identification to ensure safety, when in doubt, don’t eat it
Disclaimer: Please forage responsibly, this book is merely a recommendation. Serenity Lesley cannot be held responsible for any allergy, illness, or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of information on this website.