Wild Mushrooms

Yes, wild mushrooms are food, if you find and know the right ones. I just read recently that there's a Czech saying that all mushrooms are edible, some only once. For gathering wild mushrooms, the trick is clearly to know the difference, but that difference is worth knowing. 

Mushrooms in nature are mysterious living things, seeming to appear unpredictably. When we moved into our house in 1971, there were some parasol mushroom (Lepiota procera) in our back yard. I photographed them, had them as a fine meal, and looked forward to more. They never appeared again.

<=  Boletus edulis: A real find that was one of the best for eating, Boletus edulis (aka Steinpilz, cèpe, or porcini).  Books call it "edible and choice", and it's next to impossible to mistake it for another. The picture at the left was taken after I brought it home and does not represent its natural habitat. 

Boletus edulis is very firm and dense, and barely shrinks during sautéeing. Some butter and salt, and a sprinkle of parsley, and this mushroom about 5" in height made a substantial side dish. 

Boletus frostii: The carmine color of cap and pores, the veins on the stem, and the droplets on the pores make it unmistakable.

Agaricus placomyces:  When I saw a couple of these mushrooms growing in front of our house, I had high hopes for edibility because they looked like some kind of Agaricus, most of which are really good (Agaricus includes the ubiquitous white store mushrooms).  Alas, no such luck; all the mushroom books gave it a thumbs-down. 

Bondarzewia berkeleyi: A real nuisance, we've had these huge mushrooms growing at the roots of one oak tree for years. They grow fast and then envelop the branches of ground cover around the tree, which makes them hard to remove. I've taken out ones that must have weighed thirty pounds. The one in the picture is still fairly young, and is at least 18" across.
It's former name is Polyporus berkeleyi.

Cantherellus cinnebarinus: Rather small, this red chanterelle is edible and good. A number of these    grew in various spots around our garden and woods;   the picture is of a small dish after picking and a bit of cleaning.

Grifola frondosa: Well-known as "hen of the woods", this is not only edible but very good. It's firm and can last a long time with some refrigeration. Two of these grew at the base of some oak trees. Sautée in some butter and sprinkle a bit of parsley.

They were also served in a very fine restaurant at the same time as I had found them on our trees.

Updated Nov. 19, 2018