When we asked experienced mushroomers what advice they would give the beginning mushroom hunter, the top five items were:
- Buy and use good field guides.
- Join a mushroom club.
- Take a mushroom identification course.
- Go out hunting with an experienced mushroomer.
- Keep a good journal in which you take good notes on what you find.
They also offered these nuggets of wisdom:
Look for specific edible mushrooms. When you go berrying, you collect blueberries or blackberries. You don’t pick every berry in sight, mix them in a bag, and then expect some ‘expert’ to tell you which are edible.
– Walt Sturgeon
If you wouldn’t buy it in a grocery store because of its condition, don’t eat it from the wild.
– Nancy Weber
Mycology is not easy. You don’t start with any guideposts. A birdwatcher starts out knowing a sparrow from a duck, but a beginning mycologist doesn’t know a bolete from a clavaria.
– Moselio Schachter
Go mushrooming as often as possible.
Every day if possible. If not, then every other day.
If that’s not possible, then at least once a week.
– John Cage
Don’t poach on my patches.
– David Arora
Some Dos and Don’ts
Don’t put mushrooms into plastic bags. Plastic bags condense moisture inside them and this will rot your mushrooms very quickly. To prevent decay, carry your mushrooms in individual paper or wax paper sandwich bags, loose in a basket, or in twists or newspaper, wax paper, or aluminum foil. On a sweltering day, mushrooms will survive better in a cooler.
Don’t get lost.
Do take along a whistle and a compass to use when you get lost. Some people also use the whistle as a mushroom call.
Don’t ever serve mushrooms raw – some people will have allergic reactions. Raw morels will send many people to the emergency room. The common button mushroom seems to be an exception, but why take chances?
Do join a mushroom club and take advantage of the willingness of more experienced mushroomers to share advice and information. To find the mushroom club nearest you, search our national listing of mushroom clubs.
Don’t ask successful mushroomers to pinpoint where they found their morels.
Do ask successful mushroomers about the habitat and elevation where they found their morels. Then get out the maps.
Don’t worry about how you pronounce the scientific names of the mushrooms. Those names are Latin, and are pronounced differently by American, British and other European mycologists. Your way is bound to be close to one of them.