Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wild About Mushrooms

Fern Glen Inn • www.ferngleninn.blogspot.com


Do you know your wild mushrooms? If you do, then this is the month for you. Our woods are liberally dotted with a wide array of mushrooms and, if you know what you're looking for, you can pick basketfuls to take home to eat or preserve. 


Over the years we've had mushroom-savvy guests come to forage for fungi. They show us their haul, explaining which varieties can be eaten raw, which must be cooked, which ones need to have their caps peeled, which ones have the best flavour (the "king of mushrooms"!).


Two of our regular guests, Pavel and Elena, are experienced and knowledgeable about wild mushrooms in Ontario. They've been coming to the inn for six years, often timing their visits for late summer or early fall when mushrooms are plentiful. Every year they return—alive and well—we are more and more convinced they know what they're talking about!




Elena says about 50% of the mushrooms in our woods are edible. That means 50% are not. I don't like those odds, so I don't even attempt to pick mushrooms. Plus there's the fact that I don't actually like eating mushrooms so I'm not willing to risk my health for them. Now if we were foraging for wild chocolate, I might take my chances...


Some wild mushrooms are edible, some are toxic. Mistaking the two can cause serious illness (such as permanent kidney damage) or even death. So if you don't absolutely know your mushrooms, don't even attempt to pick for consumption. 


Instead, you can simply admire their whimsical shapes and colours and their incredible tenacity to live and thrive in the dark damp corners of the forest.



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