Country Corner


Isn’t this a fine harvest of Shaggy Ink Caps?

I use the word harvest literally as most of those you see here were on my dinner plate later that day. I love them!

In fact Shaggy Ink Caps are second only to Giant Puff Ball in my favourite wild fungi foods. Both are also among the safest for the amateur forager to harvest, as they have no poisonous lookalikes.

On the subject of poisonous ‘confusion species’, the common Field Mushroom, the one you are used to buying in the supermarket, should not be gathered from the wild unless you are certain of you identification skills.

Field Mushrooms have numerous very similar cousins,some good to eat, some not good to eat, and some deadly!

Some fungi are safe cooked but poisonous raw. Other fungi are safe to eat so long as there is no wine (or other alcohol) on the table.

My best advice to the would be ‘free food forager’ is this. Learn from an expert. Fungi walks are now popular events, allowing the chance to learn to identify fungi in safety.

Of course, even if you are not as keen on ‘eating Nature’ as I have always been, fungi are worth seeking out purely for the interest. The variety of form and colour is amazing. Many are nothing like the familiar umbrella shaped mushrooms and toadstools we all recognise as fungi.

More Country Corner in this week’s paper