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best edible guide in print  RSS feed

 
Leah Sattler
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I admit. I have always been intimidated by the idea of either collecting or cultivating outdoor mushrooms. but I am trying to get over my irrational fear. my garden is producing 100's of mushrooms from the old hay I laid down as mulch and I suppose the layer of 1/2 composted stall cleanings underneath is part of the factor also. I can't help but wonder why I couldn't try my hand at getting something edible.

I love mushrooms and will eat them in practically anything. but I would only feel comfortable knowing for 100% that what I am picking is what i wanted to grow there (or at least is safe) and not some wild 'who knows what' that made its way into my patch. 

so, in addition to really looking into what it takes to cultivate mushrooms I want  to find a good in print (not online) book for identification. something concise, user freindly and with excellent photos. any reccomendations?

our woods is loaded with all kinds of fungi right now also and I would like to know what is out there now even if I am too chicken to to try them. with the incredible variety it all seems overwhelming. 
 
Jami McBride
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Leah you may have better luck than I have with mushroom identification books, I'd recommend you try some out from your local library - unless you to far out.  I haven't found one yet that made me feel sure enough to pick and eat.

Most books I've seen have little pictures and/or black and while images making one very insecure about identification.  Also I found that the mushrooms can change as they grow.  Changing their shape and colors making things that much harder.

A friend said the best way to go is to take a class on edible mushroom identification in your area, this may be true.

I will be watching to see what recommendations others might have.

 
paul wheaton
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fungi perfecti has a deck of cards that might be of great use.  Pictures of 54 different mushrooms.  I think all of the clubs are edibles, hearts are medicinals, spades are toxic and diamonds are "psychoactive".

 
Fred Morgan
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In the North, I used to collect mushrooms. I knew a few and I would go for those. Boletus are pretty safe, those are the ones without gills, but pores where the gills should be. Very tasty to me. I could also recognize the ones that make up fairy rings that are edible, since I knew where they normally spawned.

Oyster mushrooms pretty easy to identify as well as chicken of the forest.

Tree ears are pretty easy to identify as well. No taste, but interesting texture, especially in Chinese cooking.

I used to hike miles and miles every weekend through forest, and usually come back with enough for a couple of meals. It was a great excuse to explore. 

I agree, it is best to go with someone knowledgeable. Many areas have mushroom clubs.
 
Leah Sattler
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thanks! i will check out the cards!

it is also good to have a bit of a list of things that are easily identified and not easily confused with others. gives me somewhere to start! thanks treedude!
 
Fred Morgan
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Leah Sattler wrote:
thanks! i will check out the cards!

it is also good to have a bit of a list of things that are easily identified and not easily confused with others. gives me somewhere to start! thanks treedude!


Just so you know, the easiest mushrooms to get confused by are the gilled. Be very careful with them. I once harvested some gilled and ate them and then came down with the flu. 

Let me really wondering for a bit I can tell you. Someone else had the same symptoms who didn't indulge, so I was able to figure out I hadn't poisoned myself.  ops:
 
rose macaskie
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    Isn't there a boletus called satanas that is deadly, maybe its european and not north american. I think i would like a class on the deadly ones so i really new what not to eat.
    i think looking up plants and things is just hard and you need several books and lots of time may be it will take a few years to get good at it, unless you have masses of time now. Strangely it is when you are older that it does not seem so bad taking up things that will take some time to accomplish . if a young person starts now they might be real experts at say fiifty or sixty or seventy and that wil lbe fun for them.
  I find it so much easier to identify things if a real person shows them to me than through a book. So the classes must be great.

  I have a tremendous article about woods in South America and how the pesticides used by the forestry comission have spoilt the lands of small holders and how they ate mushrooms they had eaten all their lives and got poisoned by them because, they believe, the mushrooms had absorbed the pesticides, so another reason to whatch out with fungi. agri rose macaskie.
 
Jami McBride
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All this is why I'd like to buy some spores and plant my own.  Then I could put my energy into harvesting and saving my own spores to continue the cycle. 

Maybe a on book how to farm mushrooms would be nice too. 

Okay all this talk about mushrooms and I have to post this little dity of a video -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIB2tg1pif4  What happens if you eat wild mushrooms and drink swamp water.
 
Fred Morgan
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rose macaskie wrote:
     Isn't there a boletus called satanas that is deadly, maybe its european and not north american. I think i would like a class on the deadly ones so i really new what not to eat.


Possibly. Though I got comfortable collecting mushrooms in the North, I have yet to do the same here in the tropics. A bit nervous still, and I don't have a book yet on identification.
 
                          
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I am enjoying my 100 edible mushrooms by M  Kuo but admit it is just part of my EOTWAWKI library.  I certainly have some- the book cover mushroom (can't find the specific name) grows in my woods- but I am too skeered to risk it.  Maybe when I am older- kids grown up enough.  The 'keep a sample in a plastic bag in the fridge for the ambulance crew' directions sealed my fear.
 
Erica Wisner
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I don't eat anything fungal unless 3 independent sources confirm a positive ID.

That usually includes my husband Ernie (he has a good sense of which are the "easy" ones to ID, and what the signs are of an easily-confused "toadstool" like Death Angels).

I have a couple of books I use, neither is reliable for eating (one is too encouraging, the other is too limited):
the Smithsonian guide to North American mushrooms (great pictures including different stages of growth) and Some Edible Mushrooms (and how to cook them) by N. Faubion (Her rule of thumb, like Ernie's, is "Never eat any Amanita."  But her mycologist father's willingness to try mushrooms new to science frankly unnerves me.

I'd like to get Mushrooms Demystified, or All the Rain Promises and More.  Both have extensive info, keys, growth info, and cross-reference to toxic look-alikes.

I also use websites with ID keys: they often link to good pictures from different sources.  mushroomexpert.com is the one I use most often.  It's not complete, but it's pretty open about which mushrooms are easy to get a positive ID, and which ones are too similar for the novice to be confident about.

If at least 3 sources agree (and there are no disagreements), based on
-examples at different growth stages,
- ecology (dirt, moss, disturbed ground, wood, symbiotes, etc),
-and spore print,
-and they all agree as to the characteristics of toxic look-alikes so I can eliminate them as possibilities,
then sometimes I will try a small amount. (I'd rather allow my expert friends to have the first crop, and wait a few days). 
If the ID requires a microscope or chemical tests, I enjoy them visually but don't taste.

The next time I find them I ID them again using the same references, and try a larger amount.

I'm up to the point of using our backyard Birch Boletes as dried mushrooms (the toxic boletes in my area have distinctive orange to red pores, or stain blue; some edible ones also stain blue, but I'm happy to treat it as a warning until I learn different).

I harvest a few Shaggy Manes each year; I'd like to bring in more, but our neighborhood sources are roadside or lawns, and that's not safe.  So I pass by a lot of them each year.  I'm not sure whether they concentrate toxins like arsenic or copper.  A little copper is nutritious; a lot is toxic; and I don't know an easy way to measure residual Miracle Grow in mushrooms.

I have also had Chicken of the Woods (aka sulphur polypore?  it's orange-and-yellow striped on top, and bright yellow below; only the tips are tender enough to be good eating, and I've heard they'll keep growing if you trim instead of removing them).

I've found and almost-positively ID'd a few more edible species, including morels, but I have not eaten them yet because I wasn't 100% sure, or it was my first time.  Maybe in a few more tries, I'll be ready to eat them.

So it takes time.

Even if you plant spawn, you can't guarantee that they will be the only thing that comes up.  Spores travel on the wind.  And our wet season is a great time for fungi to grow.

They propogate themselves pretty effectively. 
If you have the right species for your environment, it will prosper; and if you don't, something else will take over. 

  But I suppose you could grow some spore or spawn in a sterile "starter" kit, and then transfer established spawn to the garden, the way we do with seedlings.

If you're going to all that trouble, you might be happier just growing "spawn-bags" indoors.  If you have a growing room with anti-contamination airlocks, or even a vent-hood with a filtered intake, you could be sure that your captive edible mushrooms were the only thing you grew.  You can chuck the used filters from your hygenic growing room on the garden, for free-range mycoflora.

Just my two cents, and based on hearsay - we've only tried outdoor spawn, and haven't seen any results yet.  (Well, the garden spawn did help our old dogwood tree perk up, and our veggies seem happy with it.  But we don't harvest edible mushrooms we've planted.)

I put some pictures up at http://picasaweb.google.com/eritter/naturalistnotesOct2009
of a recent myco-exploring in town and on Mt. Hood.
Try ID'ing them based on pictures, and put your best guess in the comments, if you like.  I'll put my best guesses there, and encourage other hunters to comment too.

Thanks,
Erica
 
Leah Sattler
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jenn wrote:
The 'keep a sample in a plastic bag in the fridge for the ambulance crew' directions sealed my fear.


uhm...yeah......that doesn't exactly help one ease into finding edible mushrooms does it   
 
Laura Sweany
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I'm a newbie in mushroom i.d. and the book I use most often is Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.  It's a big book, but has a wonderful key and is delightfully readable.  I've discovered we have boletus edulis in our back yard, and that was way cool!  I agree that the boletus family is easy to identify, what with the sponge-like pores on the underside of the cap, instead of ribbed gills.  There is a lawn at my son's school that has a patch where shaggy manes erupt this time each year; they are also very easy to identify.  It's becoming a tradition to watch for them and harvest them each fall. 
Not only do I like the feeling of security knowing I can find (at least some) wild foods reliably, but I find it really helps anchor me in the wheel of the year.  Now I have found something else to anchor me in early fall - pumpkins, colored and falling leaves, and finding my welcome mushroom friends.
Another great book is Paul Stamet's Mycelium Running.  It's an amazing general do-it-yourself guide to all kinds of mushroom cultivation, and also highly readable and entertaining.  Good luck to all of us mushroom hunters!
 
Joshua Chambers
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Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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I have "All That The Rain Promises And More" and it's pretty good.  With a nice flow-chart of identification and lots of pictures.
 
                                      
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nice, another cool thread.
i keep discovering something new everytime i surf here.

too bad there's not more people from my (European) region here.

anyway, since a friend who does collect wild mushrooms (and anything else he can digest) always advises to go for a course (or come along with some-one you know, who knows to ID for some time), and then use books to help you on your way, i haven't had the guts yet to go out and collect.

he really always insist on real-time practice with some-one who knows what he/she does...

drawing are just drawings, and according to him often not specific enough.

I still didn't go along with him so gathering wilds will have to wait.

we did start growing our own, on wood-chips, straw and logs.
first ones to come up are Hypsizygus ulmarius, i think the English name is elm oyster.

(check out the rest of the pics here: http://ttpijp.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/zelf-paddestoelen-kweken/ )
We also have a bunch of other types, but we all grow them small scale indoors since we live in an urban area. so we put out the mycelia (we get the mycelia, dint grow that ourselves yet) in pasteurised straw chips etc, and wrap them in little packs. Nice for indoor, but it just struck me;

so i wonder:
elm oyster grows on living trees, mostly on their wounds, (after the tree is dead it keeps on feeding on the dead material) but still i guess its at least mildly parasitic. and growing them intentionally in lets say a shady place in your food forest on woodchips does break down the woodchips to nutrients in your soil, it can also spread to your living trees, cause harm those.

so i guess when introducing stuff outside you have to choose the micorhizzasymbionts, and the strictly saprotrophic types... are there any edibles that really shouldn't be encouraged?

or are the effects of necrotrophic (parasitic) types negligible since most of them will only take avantage of the weak or sick trees...?
 
                    
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Location: N.W. Arkansas
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Get a good fieldguide, and go mushrooming, take small paper bags to collect into.
Select one of each type of mushroom.  Carefully preserve it and keep each type separate in its very own bag.  Take your loot home, don't eat any at all.  Wash your hands well.
Now, get your guide out and try to sort out what you found.  Take photos and date these photos.  But, still don't eat them! You want to get so that you can pick up a mushroom and at least guess the family that it belongs to and gradually get better acquainted with exactly what is growing in your area, whether it is good or bad.  At home you can do a spore print, dissection, whatever it takes to identify what you found.

I memorized the ones, that were deadly.  Then, I also looked for the ones that have no deadly look alike's.  I went mushroom hunting with folks who ate them regularly.  And gradually I got so that I was confident in eating a few wild mushrooms.  It would be pretty hard to confuse a morel, oyster, coral, and bear paw with other mushrooms.

My self imposed rules:  1: what is it growing on?  If soil, only take 1 specimen to identify.
2:  What shape is the base?  If a bulb, only take 1 specimen to identify.
3:  Is there a veil?  Or rough edges where a veil was?  If so, only take 1 specimen to identify.
4:  Is it fresh, or bug infested?  If overripe or bug infested, I take a photo of it, and leave it there.
5:  Never put questionable mushrooms in the same bag with your edibles!

Once I get home, I check over the mushrooms again.  With the obviously good ones getting cleaned first.  Then, I look over the others one by one.  And set them on paper overnight to get a spore print.. no I won't be eating these, I just want to know what they are.

Various field guides will give you mixed information.  For instance, a friend recommended coral mushrooms, and served them at dinner.  They were good.  When I looked them up they were listed as poisonous in one guide, unpalatable in another, and as good mushrooms in a third.  We found them tasty and not poisonous. 

This shows why you need more counsel when selecting mushrooms.  We had 2 said good, 1 said tastes bad, and the 4th said poisonous.  Based on this, I mainly memorize the deadly ones.  You would be amazed how many are listed as poisonous, that should be unpalatable, not poisonous.  And here we have preferences... there are foods that I find unpalatable that others love to eat.  Some references will say... upsets your stomach.  Again this is personal, many foods upset one person and not another!  But, if it says deadly, I believe them!  Especially if several say deadly.

An easy to identify mushroom is the puff ball.  Some references say it is good to eat and some say unpalatable.  But, and here is the kicker, you have to slice it top to bottom, because the button stage of a deadly mushroom, is identical to puff balls.  I found that I didn't care for the taste of puffballs.  But, if you wait until they age, the stuff puffed by puffballs is good for wounds etc.  So, you can use that if injured in the woods.
 
                          
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Location: Northern California
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I had All the Rain Promises... and because of how much I've liked it, when I saw Mushrooms Demystified in a bookstore the other day my greed for it overcame my desire not to spend money and I took it home. It is a 900 page book, not including the glossary or index. I have now perused it, not to say read it, from front cover to back, skimming those individual entries that weren't particularly interesting to me (neither edible nor poisonous). Still it took me about four days to get through, and I was never tempted to stop reading and consign it to merely a reference; it takes either a genius or a truly weird person or both to start writing a field guide and end up with something so engaging. I really recommend both David Arora books, starting with ARP for the photos and continuing on to MD if you're still curious--especially for people on the West Coast of North America between Santa Cruz and Vancouver. One of the other things I like about it is that Arora isn't at all reticent about admitting "I don't know if this mushroom is edible or not; different sources say different things and I haven't tried it myself."

I have yet to gather and eat any wild mushroom, but having read ARP, I distinguished a false morel (G. esculenta or possibly infula, I think) before an acquaintance could eat it. From what I gather that was a good move. I would feel safe eating a morel I found, after checking with two other knowledgeable and experienced mushroom hunters; others I might consider would be sulfur shelf fungi and the hericiums (eg. coral hericium or lion's mane hericium)--fungi that are really hard to confuse with anything poisonous.
 
Brenda Groth
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i also agree finding a good field guide is difficult..they don't want the liability to tell you something is safe to eat and then you die.

i collect morels in the yard..we have inky caps..there are several types known as brainies and i don't eat them as i am not a believer that they are safe..but i love love love morels..

i would also like better information on those that grow around our yard and in our woods
 
Wj Carroll
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The National Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Mushrooms: https://www.amazon.com/National-Audubon-American-Mushrooms-Hardcover/dp/0394519922
 
Lance Svenson
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For a guide focusing on edible mushrooms, I would suggest Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada by David Spahr. Even if you're not in the northeast, it probably has plenty of mushrooms in your area. The author is also very cautious, and only recommends the safest mushrooms.
 
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