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If you go down to the woods today, you'll do well to go armed with a trusted guide and a sense of adventure. If you're lucky, your reward may well be a basket full of delectable wild mushrooms, a gourmet's delight.
Be sure of your identification-eat only kinds known to be edible. Do not eat mushrooms raw. Eat only mushrooms in good condition. Eat only one kind at a time and do not eat large amounts. Eat only a small amount the first time; even morels, generally considered to be excellent, may cause illness in some persons. Don't experiment. There is an old saying, "There are old mushroom hunters, and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters." Obtain a copy of one or more books or publications on mushrooms and/or join a mushroom club.
How to Select Wild mushrooms grow throughout the year, but autumn offers the most abundant and varied seasonal eating. It is only a minority of mushrooms and fungus that are good to eat, and there are several varieties that are potentially deadly. When collecting, avoid using plastic bags; the lack of air will accelerate the decomposition process and make the mushrooms mushy. Use a basket instead. When trying any fungus for the first time, only eat it in small amounts to make sure the body can cope with it.
" When you get them home, have a good look through them and discard any that are soggy, maggot-infested or that have a musty odour.
" Do not wash them, but use a soft brush or a damp cloth to remove any debris and use a sharp knife to cut away damaged or soiled bits and to cut off tough stems.
" You'll only need to peel them if the skin is slimy. Some recommend separating stalks and stems and quartering the caps to ensure there is no infestation. Once they're prepared, mushrooms should be cooked and eaten as soon as possible.
" Sautee in butter with garlic and parsley and serve as a side dish, or add to omelettes or pasta dishes.
" They have an earthy flavour that works very well with wine-based and creamy sauces. Dries well.
" Poached eggs with wild mushrooms on toast
" Good, clean, young specimens can be served raw, with a drizzle of olive oil or truffle oil.
" Inspect older mushrooms carefully; you may need to discard the stems.
How to Store
Store wild mushrooms in your refrigerator crisper where they can benefit from cool air circulation. Keep partially covered to prevent them from drying out, but never store packaged fresh mushrooms without venting. Paper bags are a good storage alternative. Use fresh mushrooms within three days.
" Wild mushrooms provide the best non-animal source of vitamin D.
" Some species provide B vitamins, and a few even contain vitamin C.
" Mushrooms are also good sources of polyphenols, antioxidants that reduce cancer risk and may slow aging.
" Some wild mushrooms contain unknown toxins. And some people experience allergies or other adverse reactions after eating mushrooms that are harmless to other people. This is why you should eat small quantities the first time you consume it.