Mushroom Foraging

Parasol Mushroom - you can see how they get their name...

Doug and I went for a long walk yesterday evening in the woods behind Outwood Common Road in Billericay and stretching up towards Crays Hill. I wanted to see the pigs and hens which the farm near us keeps – the footpath goes through their farm and their Rhode Island Red hybrids are such characters – and it’s a lovely walk anyway. Just in case, Doug, who loves to go foraging for mushrooms, brought a bag with him. In the past we have found some parasol mushrooms in one stretch in the woods about this time of year, although perhaps closer to October. But we didn’t hold out much hope of finding anything this year as we thought, despite all the rain we’ve had lately, that it might be a bit early.

However, we were wrong to be so pessimistic because we did in fact stumble across quite a number of big parasol mushrooms which were largely untouched, although somebody (maybe a rabbit?) had taken a small bite out of one of them. Doug collected four large specimens, carefully arranged them in a tupperware box which was bursting at the seams by the time we left and took them home to eat. Parasol mushrooms, which are edible, are relatively easy to identify because they have a large parasol-like head and tiger stripes on the stems. There are so many species of mushroom and a number which are poisonous so we always find it best to stick to the ones we know and, if in doubt, leave other ones alone. Some mushrooms will just give you a nasty stomach upset while others can kill you and there’s not always an antidote so it’s not worth taking chances with these things.

On our travels we also saw an abundance of sloes, hawthorn berries and some rosehips too. We’ve never tried making sloe gin before but I think we’ll be returning to the scene of the crime soon to collect some and make a stash of sloe gin for Christmas. Many of the sloes looked ripe but when we checked the internet last night it said that it was best to pick them in late October after the first frosts, so I guess we’ll be doing that. Do get in touch if anybody has any good recipes for this or rosehip/hawthorn berry jelly as I’d like to try making that.

Reading through an old copy of the Telegraph from last Tuesday, I was surprised to see none other than Prince Charles out foraging for mushrooms around the Balmoral estate. It must be trendy now!
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2 Responses to Mushroom Foraging

  1. Organic Dad says:

    Sounds like you both had a lovely day! I came across this post which caught my attention I must confess to knowing little about mushrooms, that is apart from enjoying eating them! But picking wild mushrooms does interest me just the worry of picking the right ones though! Will have to do some good homework if you have any ideas would love to hear..

    • piperterrett says:

      Thanks. We had a great time 🙂 It’s hard to become an expert on lots of mushrooms – and believe me, my other half Doug is the one who is the knowledgeable one of the two of us! So the best thing to do is to get to know one or two edible species really well (and perhaps also to recognise the poisonous ones so you can avoid them) and stick to those. Parasol mushrooms, for example, are widespread and fairly easy to identify. But it’s also a good idea to go on an organised mushroom foray in your area too to learn more. We’ve been on a few and you get to recognise how the mushrooms look, smell and feel which you can’t always get from a book. Wildlife rangers often run them in the autumn – check out your local wildlife society or nature reserve. Hope that’s some help! If in doubt, don’t eat it.

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