The Magpie’s very favourite forager Alex Richards from Island Wild Food gives us her take on looking for late autumn mushrooms…
🍄 Mushroom foraging tips 🍄
🍂November is still a pretty good month to get exploring your local woodland or nearby grassland to see what wondrous mushrooms can be discovered. It’s a little like participating in a treasure hunt with mystery prizes!!
🍁Get to know what mushrooms you might expect to find in what environment (field or forest) and then break this down further (eg types of trees). Also consider the specifics of the season (eg early v late autumn). This helps you know where to start..
🧺If you’re new to mushroom foraging go out looking for ‘easier’ mushrooms to identify (these are the ones with few poisonous lookalikes and very distinctive features!) For late autumn, consider starting by looking for the black trumpet, hedgehogs, blewits, amethyst deceivers, oyster, winter chanterelles, jelly ear and parasol mushrooms You may still even find some ceps if you’re lucky.
👍🏻When identifying a mushroom pick the whole thing for further exploration (this won’t effect the mycelium- the underground growth network) and is essential to help check against all ID points – definitely don’t be afraid to touch them!
👀 👃 Consider the clear visuals: stem, and cap (what colouring and size is it?), what’s the underside of the cap like? (has it got gills, pores or spikes 🦔?) Is it growing on wood or from the leaf litter? (On a tree as a bracket or is there a stipe?) What does it smell of? (Some smell like apricots, and almonds and others TCP!!🤔)
🦠A fab (and pretty cool way) to fully support you to know what mushroom family you have is to do a spore print by leaving the mushroom cap on a piece of paper (under a glass) for an evening to see what colour the spores are.
📚 Finally avoid mushroom ID apps (😲) and get a good few mushroom books (obviously Roger Phillips is up there along with the River Cottage Mushroom Book). Always cross reference finds and use reliable web guides such as first-nature.com and @wildfooduk).
🌲 Don’t go out with the intention to necessarily pick and eat but rather to explore initially. Obviously, if in in the slightest bit of doubt – don’t eat.