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General News · 24th October 2011
Mushroom Picking…

I love them. Even the ones I can’t eat. I love the strange and diverse forms, colours and even scents of them. And this is the season for discovering new species and bringing home a harvest of the delicious mushrooms that you know from past years.

To keep the harvest coming in future years there are a few things that we can do in our picking practice to give the fungi the best chance of success. I would like to share a few tips that all of us can use to keep the fungi growing…

- Use a basket of some sort with to collect mushrooms in. Something with air flow though it rather than buckets or plastic bags. Mushrooms reproduce and spread though spore distribution and if you are carrying edible mushrooms through the forest anyway you might as well spread the spores while you are at it.

- Use a knife to cut your mushrooms. Some mushrooms, like russulas, will sometimes grow back from stem butts left in the forest and others like chanterelles will often grow in “twins” so if you leave the stem butt in the ground another mushroom may form from the same place. Even if you don’t plan on returning to that spot, the next mushroom will be able to mature and sporulate.

- Cover your divots. Some mushrooms, such as matsutake and cauliflower mushrooms will often leave a bit of a hole in the ground after you harvest them. This provides a pathway for bugs that like to feed on the mycelium. Covering these holes back up can keep some of the bugs out.

- Don’t pick any old, soggy, unappealing mushrooms. Oddly, this can be a bit of a challenge. When out picking, those old floppy chanterelles can look fine against the moss in the forest, but when home on the cutting board they can look less than yummy and end up in the compost. If you leave these in the forest they can complete their life cycle and go back to the forest. Besides, many cases of “mushroom poisoning” are actually from bacteria growing on old mushrooms. Unless you fancy eating rotten meat, I would suggest steering clear of rotten mushrooms – and lobster mushrooms rot quickly.

- Don’t over-harvest. Do your best to leave some mushrooms out there. Some people suggest different percentages of the patches. This can be hard especially when finding individual mushrooms. Just try to leave some for the next person, deer, squirrel, or slug that comes behind you.

Happy Fall everyone!