When I was a kid, I never liked mushrooms, and I never understood what purpose they have in nature. Now I love them!
They actually don’t have the use of sun; they use only the energy of the soil to synthesize their food. For field mushrooms they grow in manure, worked land. In the forest there is the micorrhizal symbiosis principle. To grow a mushroom “connects” its roots to the ones of another tree. They play a determinant role in the biodiversity of forests.
Sounds crazy? Mushrooms have many skills aha: some of them are toxic and dangerous… But some other are simply delicious!!
As mentioned before some mushrooms are delicious, even though identification is always a bit hard when you are not used to it some mushrooms are easy to identify!
But before identification there is the “harvest”: nothing easier than this, take a knife, a basket and a book about mushrooms and you’re off! Choose a day that comes after rain or humid weather in spring or autumn and you have lot of chances to meet with mushrooms.
Here in Boževce we try to gather information about what kind of mushrooms we have around. As being aware of what’s around us is part of permaculture logic and principles (Principle 1: Observe & interact/ Principle 3: Obtain a Yield) it is for us important to collect data, and mushrooms for eating around!
We realized that we have mushrooms growing in the garden beds, even though we realized that they might be deadly (Deadly cap, Amanita Phalloides)…
But some we found were edible, and good!! Like the field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) the shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus) or the Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus).
But rule number one with mushrooms is: if you are not 100% sure, if you don’t know, you don’t eat. Don’t collect everything you find. It can be dangerous and every time you find a new mushroom, take only one and check it through books, pay attention if there is not look alike specie. Some of them can be toxic, deadly.
I really enjoyed cooking mushrooms we found, it’s great to be able to cook with what grows right beside and does not need human interference at all, and plus it’s delicious!
The chicken of the woods has no look alike specie and is really easy to cook: cut it from the tree, wash it and cut it in slices, fry it in a pan with olive oil until it’s getting golden and then add cream, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs (rosemary, parsley…). You can eat this with pasta or even directly from the pan. Keep also in mind that’s it’s always better to overcook a mushroom!
However, we still have a lot to learn about them, but for sure we’ll not stop now!
Alex, June 2019