Picking, buying and cooking wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms

We are entering into the mushroom season and whether you are planning on going into the woods to pick your own, or buy them from your local supermarket, we have some hints and tips for you as well as a mouth watering recipe - Open Mushroom Lasagne.

Open mushroom lasagne

When certain conditions are right, wild mushrooms appear virtually overnight in woodlands from September to November. Enthusiasts will spend hours foraging in the darkened depths within the trees with their special knife and a basket - but their whereabouts is often a close guarded secret.

You need to be sure that you are allowed in certain areas to pick mushrooms as those on private land belong to the owner.Your local Mairie will be able to advise you.

There are over 300 different varieties of mushroom in France and only a few of these are edible. Even armed with a good book, it is not always easy to identify the edible ones from those that will make you very ill with sometimes fatal consequences. There are approximately 3 deaths each year in France caused by eating poisonous mushrooms. The best thing is to go down to your local pharmacist with your precious find and get them to tell you which ones are safe and which ones are not.

Wild mushroom

If you do become ill after eating mushrooms and fear poisoning, then call the Emergency Services and if possible, take some of the mushrooms or the remains of the dish eaten with you.

Be a caring and considerate mushroom picker
Etiquette requires that you pick mushrooms that have reached a certain size (not too tiny) so that they have had a chance to release their spores so that more will grow next year.You should also use knife to cut them at the base, rather than pull them out of the ground as this damages the underground part of the mushroom, and you should put them into a wicker basket so that the spores can fall onto the ground as you carry them back and thus aid propagation.

Basket of wild mushrooms

If all of this seems like too much effort, you will often find a variety of wild mushrooms for sale in your local village market or supermarket, which also takes out the worry of picking the wrong thing.

However you acquire your mushrooms, sometimes just a simple omelette is the best way to enjoy their texture and taste, but if you want to try something a little more adventurous, then try our recipe here. This very simple and easy recipe makes a great lunchtime treat or a stylish starter for a dinner party.

Useful sites are www.atlas-des-champignons.com in French and www.rogersmushrooms.com/gallery/visualkey.asp in English (many of the mushrooms are found in France as well).