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Questions on "tasting" mushrooms to identify fungi.


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I should have thought to ask this months ago (or years ago if I took this more seriously) and I certainly should have asked before my trip today (where I found large amounts of many species), but better late than never.

Okay so I know many mushrooms have a specific taste even if they aren't edible and even if they're poisonous (you have to consume them to have adverse effects).  This is a good additional trait to test to help identify what you find.  However I've never done it and I'm thinking like many things there are "tips and tricks" both to help someone and avoid mishaps.

I have to ask is it certain you can taste a mushroom and if it's poisonous as long as you don't eat it you'll be ok?  I would like to think you have to at least wash out your mouth (which I'd do just to ease my mind and eliminate the flavor anyway).

Is there ever a problem where a strong flavor can get "stuck" in on your tongue and you have problems tasting other samples?

I'm not looking forward to how some of what I find will taste, but I'm eager to have another procedure to help determine the identity of what I find.

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I usually stay away from tasting anything that could be deadly poisonous such as Amanita, unknown yellowish mushrooms growing on logs, etc. I usually taste boletes, lactarius, russullas and a few others. I usually bite off a small piece and chew it between my front teeth and spit it out. Some bitter and some hot tasting mushrooms will leave a bad taste in your mouth for a few minutes. I would recommend some liquid to rinse your mouth out or some gum to chew on. Both of which I usually forget to take. It's always fun to introduce beginning mushroom foragers to lactarius piperatus by having them taste it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with John. Lactarius, Russulas, and boletes often have a taste that's a useful ID feature, and there's no really dangerous species in these groups (as long as you stay away from actual consumption). With genus Tylopilus, tasting the flesh is a must for learning the various species. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ya do not taste a mushroom until after you think you know what it is and then only if you are sure that a taste will actually help with an ID. If there is any chance at all that the mushroom might be deadly you dont want to be tasting even a little bit. There really arent a lot of mushrooms where a taste will help with an ID so I wouldnt be madly tasting everything I found. Taste helps with some boletes. With some Russula as well although I know only one person who cares enough about Russula to bother tasting them.

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Tasting without swallowing is perfectly fine even with deadly amanitas. It doesn't hurt you one bit to take a piece in your mouth between your front teeth, taste it with your tongue and then spit it out. It is necessary to identify many mushrooms and just plain won't hurt you if you don't swallow it. Just like handling deadly poisonous mushrooms won't hurt you.

One other thing, some of the best tasting mushrooms I've ever eaten were Russula's! 

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Just saw this topic. Pretty sure ladyfish is correct and Dufferinshroomer brings up a valid point. My favourite is to have a new forager try T. felleus, cause that bitterness lingers. Maybe a tad sadistic but the point gets across, when it comes to identifying a bolete type.

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