Wild Mushrooms.

I really like wild mushrooms!

My history with wild mushrooms goes way back. I earned the very first money, I made in my life, by selling wild mushrooms.

At the end of World War II, we were very much into foraging. Besides raiding the local farmers gardens, we also gathered mushrooms, wild berries, hazelnuts and beach nuts.

In August of 1959, my brother, a friend and I arrived in Canada. Our first stop was Truro, Nova Scotia. A very nice landlady put us up for the night. The next morning, we decided to explore this new place.
We found a nearby park and there in the woods, right alongside the trail grew the biggest bunch of chanterelles, I had ever seen before. These things were very highly prized were we came from and nobody seemed to pay any attention to them here. We picked a bunch and earned our first free lunch in Canada.
Since then, Canada has started to pay attention. Commercial mushroom picking has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. The species most sought after are Pine mushrooms and Morels and to a lesser extent King Boletus and Chanterelles.

How to get to know about mushrooms.

Gathering mushrooms is not as easy as it sounds. First, you need to become familiar with the kind you are after. The simplest way to do that is with a field guide and I don't mean a book (though a book will help). Find a person or a group who will take you into the woods on their mushroom hunts. Not only will they show you the edible ones, they also show you how to identify them and where to find them.
Mushrooms don't grow everywhere in the bush. They all have their little niches and then they don't grow in everyone of those. You just have to find them and remember the place, because they will be there the next year.
The next thing to know, is when to look. Mushrooms need water to grow. 6 to 7 days after a good rain in the summer and fall is usually a good time to go after them.
There are some poisonous mushrooms out there. A few of these are deadly, others just give you a bad bellyache. So get very familiar with a handful of the most sought- after species and 2 or 3 of the most poisonous ones, so you know them when you see them, and then just ignore the rest to begin with. You can increase your knowledge as you go.
Mushroom picking is a lot of fun, especially when you find some. Its like an Easter egg hunt in the woods and can turn an ordinary hike into something quite special.

I will go into a little more detail on the different species, starting with my favorite: the King Bolete or Steinpilz, like we called it in Germany.

Whether you have a life mushroom mentor or not, you will need a guide book to help you with this. Get one at the store - here.


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