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Protocol for learning new edible mushrooms

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Hello to the board!

I'm curious how you guys here go about identifying and then eating a new mushroom for the first time. It should be noted, I am not an experienced mushroom forager, I have only been doing it on anything more than a very casual basis since this year. Here is my 'protocol', which kicks in when I become aware of a new mushroom which I would like to add to my repertoire:

-once I have found a mushroom which I think is an edible which I want to learn, I observe them closely in their habitat, probably photograph them, and pick one or two of the FULL mushroom (ie including all parts, eg base, maybe even mycelium) and take them home

-I then study the specimens carefully with reference to my resources, which currently means a good mushroom book, and other online resources. This includes all features, such as smell, measurements, often taste (a very small piece, which is not swallowed)

-I would nearly always do a spore print at this point

-I may also post pictures in a forum, but not until I am already pretty sure (about 98%!) sure of my identification

-if everything checks out and feels right, I cook and eat a relatively small amount, say one cap for a medium-sized mushroom

-if everything is good after 24 hours, I cook and eat a larger portion

-if everything is still good, I feel ok about eating them again, and giving them to other 'consenting adults', eg my girlfriend

This is all bearing in mind the following:

-I am learning common edible mushrooms which do not pose any serious identification issues

-I learn new species one by one, somehow as I become confident with one species, another new one seems to come onto the radar; to illustrate, the species I am confident with to now are Beefsteak Fungus, Chicken of the Woods, Porcini, Bay Bolete, Red Cracking Bolete, Chanterelle, Winter Chanterelle, Amethyst Deceiver, Wood Blewit, and the species which is on my radar for study and learning to identify is Honey Fungus.

-To learn a new species, it seems it is not enough to see a mushroom which I strongly suspect is edible; there needs to be some kind of instinctive step, where I strongly feel I know what a mushroom is and want to add it to the list. For example, I have seen plenty of Parasols this year, but so far have no desire to formailize my ability to identify them and then cook with them.

Any views, comments or suggestions received with gratitude!


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    I'm new to this as well and looking to 'dive in' next summer when mushrooms will abound in this area.  Until then it's all about education!  Appreciate your post and will follow to see what the more skilled have to say!

Thank you!

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I like being outdoors.

I like cooking.

I really like eating mushrooms.

I also really like living.

Your approach is sensible but….

I want more than 98% probability that a mushroom is identified correctly.

When I am 100% certain, then I will have a single small bite. When I am OK in a few hours, I will have another. When I am fine the next day, I will have a lot more.


This year I tried four new mushrooms:

Deer Mushroom… Pluteus cervinus…tasteless, slimy and not worth eating.

Fairy Ring…. Marasmius oreades….sweet, tasty and easy to harvest all summer on neighbouring yards. But, I studied numerous books and websites and spore printed many time for Three Years before trying it. LBM’s in lawns can be difficult to ID.

Suillus brevipes…easy to identify, OK to eat but a lot of prepping to remove the dirty stem bases and the slimy cap.

Guepinia helevelloides...easy to identify, mostly tasteless. Significant lower bowel action the next day...almost as effective as a colonoscopy prep.

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12 hours ago, JOHNY said:


I want more than 98% probability that a mushroom is identified correctly.


Many thanks for the comment.

When I am 98% certain, I seek a second opinion. When I am sure, I try it. That said, there is no way of being 100% risk-free in anything. I am not a mushroom expert, so my 100% certainty is not the same as a qualified mycologist's 100% certainty.

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