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Fabulous Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine

Fabulous Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine

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Fabulous Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine

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Mar 30, 2010


Fantastic Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine guides you through the best way to prepare 22 species of wild edible mushrooms. The book offers over 200 recipes and hundreds of tips on when and where to find the different species, identification guide-lines, preserving your harvest for future use. Pen and ink illustrations of all 22 species.

Mar 30, 2010

Informazioni sull'autore

Darcy Williamson, an award-winning author, is a Rocky Mountain herbalist, naturalist. During her fifty-year career, she has written over twenty books and taught more than one hundred and thirty apprentices the knowledge and preparation of backyard herbal medicine.She owns two alternative lifestyle teaching and learning facilities, From the Forest in McCall, Idaho and Mavens' Haven in Lucile, Idaho.Aside from eBooks, she currently has three books published by Caxton Printers, Ltd., (Basque Cooking and Lore; River Tales of Idaho and The Rocky Mountain Wild Foods Cookbook) plus several independently published titles including Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains, McCall's Historic Shore Lodge, and Medicinal Camino, Plant First Aid Along "The Way".

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Fabulous Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine - Darcy Williamson



Revised Edition



Fabulous Wild Fungi ~ Wildly Creative Cuisine


Darcy Williamson

Cover Artwork and Illustrations by

Marlee Wilcomb

Proofread by Linn Wallace

Dedicated to my mushroom hunting friend:

Marlee Wilcomb

Copyright © 2015 by Darcy Williamson

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

ISBN 978-1517512736



Mushroom Sense

Chapter 1 - Agaricus (Almond Mushroom, Giant Cypress, Agaricus, Giant Horse Mushroom, Horse Mushroom, Meadow Mushroom, Prince, Salt-Loving Agaricus, Tork

Chapter 2 - Auricularia auricula (Wood Ears)

Chapter 3 - Boletus (Admirable Bolete; Butter Bolete, King Bolete, Queen Bolete, White King Bolete)

Chapter 4 - Calvatia (Sierran Puffball, Giant Western

Chapter 5 - Cantharellus (White Chanterelle, Yellow Chanterelle)

Chapter 6 - Catathelasma ventricosa (Mock Matsutake)

Chapter 7 - Clitocybe (Blewit, Blue-Green Anise Mushroom)

Chapter 8 - Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)

Chapter 9 - Craterellus cornucopiodes (Horn of Plenty)

Chapter 10 - Gyromitra gigas (Snowbank False Morel)

Chapter 11 - Hericium (Bear's Head, Lion's Mane)

Chapter 12 - Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog Mushroom)

Chapter 13 - Lactarius (Candy Cap, Indigo Milk Cap)

Chapter 14 - Leccinum insigne (Aspen Bolete)

Chapter 15 - Lepiota (Parasol, Shaggy Parasol)

Chapter 17 - Morchella (Black Morel, Common Morel, White Morel)

Chapter 18 - Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster Mushroom)

Chapter 19 - Ramaria (Pink-Tipped Coral, Yellow Coral)

Chapter 20- Russula xerampelina (Shrimp Mushroom)

Chapter 21 - Stropharia rugoso-annulata (King Stropharia)

Chapter 22 - Tricholoma (Brown Matsutake, Man on Horseback, Poplar Tricholoma, White Matsutake)



I find Snow Bank False Morels in the receding wake of the snow. In the clearing beyond, the trillium is just poking its furled green leaves through the new spring earth and the trout lily has yet to open its golden buds. There, lined up along a deteriorating log are seven more of the mushrooms. Three have lifted up through the snow still fringed along the border of the log.

Calf’s brain is the local name for this early spring delicacy. Their wrinkled surface and rounded shape, combined with their burnt orange hue, is definitely cerebellum-like.

As I place the cool, moist fungi into my gathering basket I am experiencing my annual sense of elation and expectation. This is just the beginning of the harvest of forest delicacies. By the time the trillium has blossomed and its petals have begun to tinge purple, the Morels will be making their grand appearance. Oyster Mushrooms will flush along the surface of fallen trees. Giant puffballs will form snowball-like aberrations among the alders and buck brush lining mountain trails. And with each spring, summer and autumn shower Wood Ears will swell with moisture and hang rubber-like along surfaces of dead or dying birch.

In groves of aspen, when the trees have unfurled their pale green leaves, the Aspen Bolete will clash with its surroundings. Amid the blues and purples of the larkspur, the cream of the bistort and the gold of the cowslip, the Bolete will blaze bright orange. Its boldness will be unmistakable. It never blends nor disguises. Its large size and burnished hue are startling when surrounded by the pastels of late spring. Through its garishness the Bolete announces the arrival of summer.

Beside the mountain streams where cool currents of air pass over the rich loamy soil, the petal-like Chanterelles will push up through the forest floor. Some will stagger up the slopes, others will seek the shade of ferns and thimble berry patches. In nearby old growth forests of grand fir the timid Horn of Plenty will share space with the Hedgehog and the fragrant Clitocybe.

As the Western Larch turn flaxen and the rains of autumn dampen the forest loam a frenzy of fungus will appear. Bear’s Head will hang like clumps of miniature icicles from the ends of fallen trees, taunting the coming winter with their Jack Frost impersonation. Fried Chicken Mushrooms and Shaggy Mane will line the packed soils of mountain and logging roads offering themselves to hapless deer and elk hunters, hence they not return home empty handed.

When the snow falls once more I will have restocked my pantry with delicious dried, bottled and pickled mushrooms. Each jar will hold treasured memories of forest adventures—and the anticipation the coming spring. Meanwhile, should my palate be sated with nothing less than the sweetness of fresh mushrooms, the produce section of the local market will provide a variety of cultivated favorites.


What is a Mushroom?

It is a common idiom to use the term mushroom when referring to edible fungi and toadstool when referring to inedible or poisonous fungi. Personally, I have seen numerous inedible and some poisonous fungi, but their beauty and distinctive characteristics have never brought to mind toadstools. Therefore, I choose not to use the term.

Fungi are generally considered plants. However, they are quite distinct. They have no chlorophyll, roots, stems or leaves; plus, they have numerous features characteristic of themselves. If, as we are taught in school, the world is made up of plants, animals and minerals, I suppose we would have to classify mushrooms as plants.

Typically, fungi are composed of a compact tangle of fine filaments, which is called a mycelium. These filaments branch out into the materials from which they derive their nutrition. We seldom see the mycelium—what we do see is the fruit, which we call mushrooms.

Since the absence of chlorophyll prevents the fungi from accessing the carbon contained in the atmosphere, as green plants do, their mycelium must procure substance from other organisms. Some mushrooms are saprophytes, deriving their nutrients from dead or decomposing organic matter such as manure, dry leaves, and compost. Some mushrooms are parasitic, consuming living organisms such as trees and plants. Most mushrooms, however, are symbiotic, existing with another species, to the advantage of both. Tree roots, which often act as hosts for symbiotic mushrooms, can more easily absorb nutrients from material decomposed by the fungi. Agaricus, Russula, Tricholoma, and Boletus are examples of symbiotic mushrooms. All these fungi depend upon a certain kind of tree, shrub or bush for their survival—as do certain trees depend on the mushrooms for theirs.

Cultivated Exotics

Although a wide variety of cultivated fungi have graced the European markets for hundreds of years, it has only been within the last ten years that mushroom factories have sprung up in North America to meet the increasing demand for exotic mushrooms. Produce and farmer’s markets throughout the country now offer the consumer delectable alternatives to the insipid white button mushrooms that come in a box! But it hasn’t been an easy task.

The complicated connection between fungi and the medium in which they grow makes cultivation of mushrooms a difficult, and in some cases an impossible, project. The technique of growing cultivated mushrooms lies in injecting mycelium into a growing situation as similar as possible to the natural conditions.

After a period of incubation, the mycelium starts to spread in the form of whitish filaments. Months following inoculation the shapes of the fruiting bodies begin to appear. The entire process may take up to eight months, depending on the variety of mushroom being cultivated. Some of the cultivated varieties include Oyster Mushrooms, Wood Ears, Lion’s Mane, several Agaricus, and the King Stropharia.

Many of the commercially available mushrooms, including Morels, Matsutake, and Chanterelles are harvested in the wild.

Identification of Wild Mushrooms

Positive identification is essential when harvesting wild mushrooms. There are two time-tested ways of learning this. The first is to go out with experienced collectors and learn each mushroom on an individual basis until you are thoroughly familiar with its appearance, habitat and growing season. The second is to get a number of books on mushroom identification and learn to recognize the fungus based on their diagnostic features. Three books, which I highly recommend, are Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More... by David Arora (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA) and The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (Lincoff, Gary, Ed., Knopf, New York: 1981). There are additional books listed in the Bibliography section.

It is best to combine field time with an experienced mushroom collector and book research. You can never learn too much about the fascinating world of mushrooms; learning too little can have dreadful consequences.


Harvesting mushrooms as a hobby and as food is increasing in popularity. The commercial demand for wild mushrooms has increased, as well. This increase in mushroom-harvesting activity has taken its toll in many areas of the Northwest. Mushrooms have always been picked for the market, but the market previously was relatively small. In the past five years, an export market has developed and made mushroom picking a big business. This foreign demand is due, in part, to the effects of the nuclear accident in 1986 at Russia’s Chernobyl. Fall-out affected the prime mushroom producing forests of several countries, including Poland and Germany.

One mushroom, in particular, has seen a dramatic increase in commercial harvest. Between 1989 and 1990 the reported commercial harvest of Tricholoma magnivelare increased by over 4000%!

The increased use of federal lands for commercial mushroom harvesting has led to regulation of both commercial and recreational mushroom gatherers. In Oregon, most Wilderness Areas and all State Parks are now closed to mushroom harvesting. Many National Forests throughout the Northwest have regulations. Some allow limited harvesting by recreational gatherers while other require a use permit for any picking. It is best to check with the Forestry Department in the area that you wish to harvest for their current regulations.

Understandably, with the growth of the commercial industry, there has been an increase in concern about protecting our mushroom resource. Both over-harvesting of wild mushrooms and incompatibility with forest practices such as timber sales/logging could potentially impact this resource.

One important thing that the individual mushroom gatherers can do, is purchase Paul Stamet’s book, Mycelium Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. Once you have read the book, you can purchase mycelium plugs or mycelium treated sawdust and begin your own colonies of wild mushrooms. I have been doing this for six years, now, and each spring and autumn I visit my woodland gardens and collect my bounty.

It is the responsibility of the recreational mushroom harvester to do the least amount of damage to the environment as possible. Cut mushrooms cleanly at ground level so that you do not disturb the mycelium. Should you be gathering mushrooms which grow on trees, such as Oyster, Bear’s Head or Wood Ears, carefully remove the mushroom, leaving some of the stalk or flesh attached to the tree. Cut away as much soil or debris before placing the mushrooms in a bag or basket.

A flat-bottomed basket makes a good vehicle for carrying your mushrooms. Many mushroom harvesters carry a small note book and pen with them, listing pertinent field data such as the habitat of each type of mushroom harvested, type of tree each was growing on or near, and whether it was growing singly or clustered. These notes will help you make positive identification when you return home to consult your stack of reference books.

Since wild mushrooms tend to accumulate contaminants never gather them from contaminated areas. These include polluted area, such as old mining sites where chemicals were used to leach out the desired metals, chemically treated lawns, power line and road right-of-way (they are usually sprayed with herbicides to keep the area cleared of foliage), places close to landfills, toxic waste areas and crop producing fields.


While there are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and less than one percent is recognized as poisonous. Wild edible mushrooms provide the best non-animal source of vitamin D. Some species provide B vitamins, and a few even contain vitamin C. Mushrooms contain about 80 to 90 percent water, and are very low in calories (only 100 calories per ounce). They have very little sodium and fat, and 8 to 10 percent of the dry weight is fiber.

Additionally, edible mushrooms contain chitin, a non-soluble protein that precipitates bile in the large intestine so it is eliminated from the body, rather than being reabsorbed, forcing the body to make new bile. It does this by breaking down cholesterol, improving cardiac health. Traditional Chinese herbalists knew of this effect for centuries, saying that eating mushrooms cleans the arteries. Along with chitin, mushrooms are rich in beta-glutan, the heart-healthy carbohydrate that accounts for oats' well-publicized association with lower rates of heart disease.

In 2005, a new testing method found that wild mushrooms provide much more of the antioxidant ergothioneine than any other food. Additional studies show that two commercial species of Agaricus, (and most likely wild Agaricus as well) are also good sources of polyphenols, antioxidants that reduce cancer risk and may slow aging. Many of the Agaricus contain a variety of B complex vitamins, are an excellent source of riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin, and are a very good source of thiamine, vitamin B6 and a good source of folate. Selenium, lysine, protein, zinc, copper, manganese and iron are more benefits of eating this species of fungi.

Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke. One medium Horse Mushroom (Agaricus arvensis), for example, has more potassium than a banana or a glass of orange juice. Additionally, one serving of mushrooms also provides about 20 to 40 percent of the daily value of copper, a mineral that has cardioprotective properties.

Edible fungus is a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Male who consumed twice the recommended daily intake of selenium cut their risk of prostate cancer by 65 percent. In the Baltimore study on Aging, men with the lowest blood selenium levels were 4 to 5 times more likely to have prostate cancer compared to those with the highest selenium levels.

The protein quality of Oyster Mushrooms is nearly equal to animal derived protein. Low fat content is mostly of the good unsaturated kind. Also contained in this fungus are carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins B1, B2, plus minerals, especially iron and an antioxidant. This mushroom shows activity against cancer and high cholesterol. It has shown activity in the following areas: anti-tumor, immune response, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibiotic.

Chanterelle, Morels, Botetus as well as other popular wild edible mushrooms, contain protein, vitamin D and vitamin B, including riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. Minerals include potassium, copper and selenium. Wood Ear has shown anti-tumor and cholesterol-lowering properties. They contain Vitamin B, C, D and iron.

These health benefits, alone, should encourage consumption of wild and domestic edible mushrooms!

Cooking with Wild Mushrooms

Never eat a mushroom unless it is positively identified as edible, and then eat only a small portion if you are eating it for the first time. As with many kinds of foods, some people are sensitive or allergic to mushrooms commonly eaten by others. I, for example, cannot consume even small amounts of Boletus.

Thoroughly clean mushrooms with a mushroom brush or slightly dampened cloth. Never submerge them in water. Mushrooms tend to absorb moisture, making their flesh soggy and their flavor diluted. If you are squeamish about the small white larvae that inhabit some older specimens, leave the mushrooms in the field. Or dry them for later use, since the larvae have a tendency to evacuate their shriveling homes.


An average of eighteen pounds of fresh mushrooms are needed per pressure or dial-gauged canner load of nine pints—an average of two pounds per pint. Select only the finest of the specimens for canning. Trim the stems and clean the mushrooms thoroughly with a brush of dampened cloth. Place mushrooms in a steamer basket and steam them for 10 minutes. Reserve the liquid that has accumulated.

Fill hot, clean jars with the hot, steamed mushrooms, leaving one inch of headspace. Add ¼ tsp. of salt per pint. Divide the reserved liquid from steaming among the jars, then add fresh hot water, leaving one inch of headspace. Adjust the lids and process at thirteen pounds of pressure for 45 minutes.


Many mushrooms such as Morels, Oyster Mushroom, Wood Ears and Boletus are best stored dried. Small mushrooms may be strung using a needle and heavy thread, then hung in a warm, well-ventilated area until brittle. They are then placed in jars or zip-locked bags and kept in a cool dark place until used.

Most mushroom can be sun-dried, as well. Lay them on a screen that has been elevated slightly so that air can flow under it. Allow the screen to remain outdoors in a sunny area during the day, but bring them indoors at night so that they do not absorb moisture from the cool air. When they are brittle, keep them in a tightly sealed container out of heat and direct light.

To Soak Dried Mushrooms:

Dried mushrooms should be re-hydrated in twice their volume of warm water until tender (10 to 30 minutes. depending on variety), and then drained. The soaking liquid can be saved to add as liquid in the recipe or saved for soups or sauces. Pat drained mushrooms dry with paper towels.


Some mushrooms keep well frozen. The varieties that do are specified in the individual chapters. When preparing mushrooms to freeze, select those that are free from spots, larvae and decay. Brush as much soil as possible from the mushrooms, then rinse them quickly so that they do not soak up additional moisture. Trim off the ends of the stalks. If the mushrooms are larger than 1" across, cut them in quarters or slice them.

Place in a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes. Plunge mushrooms into a bowl of water containing 2 tsps. of fresh lemon juice per pint of water and allow standing for 5 minutes. Drain well, and then cool. Pack in freezer bags or containers, leaving ½" head space. Seal, label and freeze.

Instead steaming, you can sauté the prepared mushrooms in a little unsalted butter or olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes, cool and then pack into freezer bags or containers.

Pickled Mushrooms:

Pickling preserves many abundant mushroom harvests. Clean the mushrooms. Leave the small ones whole and cut the large specimens into 1 chunks. Place the mushrooms into a kettle and fill it half way up with water. Add salt and pepper to taste and a bay leaf or two, if desired. Simmer the mixture to 20 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a colander and pack into sterilized pint or quart jars. You may wish to add sliced onions and/or carrots for color and flavor. Add 1 tsp. of sugar and ¼ tsp. salt per pint, to each jar. Bring white vinegar to a boil and pour over the mushrooms, leaving ½ of headspace.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.


A favorite method of preserving mushrooms in Russia and Eastern Europe is salting. Certain thick-fleshed species such as Boletus edulis, Tricholoma caligatum and Stropharia rugoso-annulata are well suited to this method. Pack the fresh, dry mushrooms in a wooden barrel or crock in thin layers, with a layer of coarse salt between. To keep mushrooms submerged in the brine, which forms, cover the surface with cheesecloth and then place a wooden lid or plate on the top layer. Weight it with a brick or a stone. Wash both the lid and cheesecloth periodically to prevent mold from forming on top of the brine. You may add dried bay leaves, rosemary, oregano or other herbs to the brine if you would like your salted mushrooms flavored. Salted mushrooms are rinsed and used as hors d’oeuvres or added to salads.


A smoker isn't needed to enjoy the wonderful flavor of smoked mushrooms. All you need are untreated smoking chips, such as hickory; a 10 round metal rack and a 12 Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid.

Cover the round metal rack with aluminum foil and pierce it in several places with the tines of a fork. Spread a cup of the smoking chips in the bottom of the Dutch oven or skillet and top with the foil-covered rack. Arrange the mushroom caps, cap side down in a single layer on top of the foil. The best mushrooms for smoking include the milder flavored Agaricus, the Boletus, the Cantharellus, the Hydnum, the Lepiota, the Lyophyllum, the Morchella, the Pleurotus, the Ramaria, and the Stropharia. Mushrooms with large water content such as the Calvatia, strongly flavored mushrooms such as Clitocybe and mushrooms with chewy textures such as Auricularia are not good choices for smoking.

Place the Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat and cook until the wood chips begin to smoke, and then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the mushrooms smoke for 10 minutes, then remove the Dutch oven or skillet from the heat. Allow standing for 10 minutes longer. Repeat procedure until all the mushrooms have been smoked.

There is no need to further cook the mushrooms. They may be eaten as they are or added to other ingredients in recipes.

Mushroom Toxins:

It is a tragic reality that mistakes are made and mushroom poisonings occur. As interest in edible wild mushrooms increase, more and more individuals are learning to identify and gather their own supply. Much of the excitement is, after all, in the hunt.

As my mushroom hunting partner (and illustrator of this book) often admonishes as I nibble an unknown variety of fungus, There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters. But there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.

Poisonings occur for a number of reasons, the most common being misidentification. Another common occurrence, however, is individual intolerance. Different people are affected by different toxins. That is why it is extremely important to sample only a few bites of the cooked mushrooms when eating them for the first time. It is also wise to start each mushroom season the same way, even when eating familiar varieties. Some mushrooms may be eaten over a long period of time with no ill effects, then suddenly cause gastric upset.

Most so-called mushroom poisonings, however, are due to overindulgence. Resulting in symptoms one might experience when eating half a chocolate cake or a full box of bon bons. The rules of mushroom eating are positive identification and moderation.

The following information describes various toxins and symptoms of poisoning, followed by a list of mushrooms known to contain the elements.

Cyclopeptide Poisoning has four stages, the first being the long latent period between the ingestion of the mushrooms and the first symptoms, which is six to twenty-four hours but averages ten. The symptoms last for approximately twenty-four hours and include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Things seem to improve the following day. This, however, is followed by the final stage of poisoning, where the victim’s liver and kidneys begin to fail. Death can occur with this type of poisoning. Mushrooms which may produce Cycloepetide Poisoning include:


Amanita verna

Amanita phalloides

Amanita virosa

Amanita bisporigera

Amanita ocreata


Galerina autumnalis

Galerina marginata

Galerina venenata

Monomethylhydrazine Poisoning has symptoms which appear six to eight hours after ingesting the mushroom, but it can be as soon as two or are late as twelve hours. The symptoms include bloating, nausea and vomiting, watery or bloody diarrhea, muscle cramp and abdominal pain. Severe cases include liver damage, high fever, convulsions and coma.

Deaths have resulted in this form of poisoning, usually two to four days after ingestion.

Mushrooms which can produce Monomethylhydrazine Poisons include:


Gyromitra ambigua

Gyromitra brunnea

Gyromitra californica

Gyromitra caroliniana

Gyromitra esculenta

Gyromitra fastigiata

Gyromitra gigas

Gyromitra infula

Coprine Poisoning have symptoms which occur very quickly—usually within 5 to 10 minutes after eating the mushroom if alcohol has been consumed within the past 24 hours. Chemically, the compound in Coprine is very similar to Antabuse (used for the treatment of alcoholism). Symptoms include hot flushes, reddening of the face, rapid, difficult breathing, rapid heart rate, severe headache, nausea and vomiting. Though many cases have been reported, there have been neither dangerous reactions nor deaths. Mushrooms containing Comrine should not be eaten with alcohol and include:


Coprinus micaeus

Coprinus fuscescens

Coprinus insignis


Clitocybe clavipes

Muscarine Poisoning produces profuse and prolonged sweating, tearing, and salivating. In severe cases the pulse slows and blood pressure falls to dangerously low levels. Death, however, is rare. Mushrooms known to have Muscarine include:


Clitocybe dealbata

Clitocybe cerussata

Clitocybe rivulosa

Clitocybe truncicola

Inocybe sp.

Ibotenic Acid - Muscimol Poisoning has symptoms which include inebriation, hallucinations, manic behavior, delirium and deep sleep. Most of the poisonings reports in the Northwest are from the Panther Cap (Amanita muscaria) but very

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