Saturday, 20 October 2012

Fungi Foray Fun

   Saturday 13th and Friday 19th October blessed us with beautiful Autumnal sunshine, combine this with the idyllic setting of the Helford Passage and you have a perfect setting for some fun in the woods, finding mushrooms.
   We all met at Gear Farm (they do amazing pasties) where Justin, the Head Ranger, gave an enthusiastic and engaging talk on the variety of fungi to be found in the area, what to eat, what to leave and useful ID tips to find out what you’ve picked. Armed with our new knowledge, we set off into the woods to explore.

Justin talking about the varied Fungi in the area
   Unfortunately, the wet weather has meant a bad year for a lot of mushrooms but we still found a large variety of edible ones including chicken of the woods (tastes like chicken!), beefsteak fungus (aptly named- it looks just like a raw steak and sometimes oozes red ‘blood’), and the amethyst deceiver (a beautiful, bright purple mushroom), unfortunately the much sought after Chanterelle eluded us.
   We also found a range of others including the shiny, pure white porcelain mushroom which grows high up in beech trees, bright yellow sulphur tufts (named for their colour), false deceivers, giant funnel mushroom, yellow club fungus, bright red Russulas and a false death cap.
   We came across a deadly poisonous destroying angel. This is one of the deadliest mushrooms known to man, and can cause kidney and liver failure within 24 hours. Needless to say, we left this well alone as when handling deadly fungi, there isn’t mushroom for error!
The fruits of our forage (plus a pasty)
   At the end of the walk, everyone tucked into a Gear farm pasty and enjoyed the sunshine on the banks of the Helford. We cooked up the mushrooms that we collected and had a taste, they were lovely and no-one on the walk has died to my knowledge.
   I feel a lot more confident about mushrooms after the walks, Justin knows a huge amount and is a good teacher. With just a few simple rules, you can collect edible mushrooms in confidence, the number one rule being that if you are unsure of the species, leave it! There are only about four or five deadly mushrooms in the UK and the vast majority are inedible but not dangerous, especially in small amounts.
   If you wish to find out more, keep a look out for our future fungi forays. The best times of year for fungi are autumn and spring, don’t be afraid to pick them, mushrooms are great an d you never know what you’re going to find, just make triple sure that you know what you are picking.

Happy foraging!


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