Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wild and Poisonous Mushrooms Identification Myths

Wild and Poisonous Mushrooms Identification Myths

My favourite mushroom quote would have to be “you can eat all mushrooms, some only once.” It is amazing how true this is.

With 10,000 known mushroom species in the world, and only a handful of them being edible, I wonder why people still take the chance and pick their own mushrooms.

Well let’s clear up some of the mushroom identification myths that I have heard over the years, as many of these “fool-proof” ways of testing are just not true:

Myth: Cook a mushroom and put a silver spoon into it. If the spoon is tarnished black, then the mushroom is poisonous.
Truth: Some poisonous species will not turn the spoon black.

Myth: Feed mushrooms to small animals like chickens or squirrels; if they eat it, it is not poisonous.
Truth: The toxins may be harmless to other organisms. Evidence that something else is eating the mushroom does not mean it is safe for humans to eat.

Myth: If you can peel, you can eat it.
Truth: Even poisonous mushrooms can be peeled.

All white mushrooms are safe to eat.
Truth: The most common deadly mushrooms are white (Amanita Group).

Myth: Poisonous mushrooms smell and taste awful.
Truth: Even the poisonous mushrooms have a pleasant taste. You might not know they were poisonous until the symptoms start to appear.

Myth: Poisonous mushrooms can be detoxified by boiling, drying, or pickling.
Truth: Neither cooking, canning, pickling, boiling, freezing, or drying a mushroom will change the chemical structure of the toxins.

Now let’s talk about some of the more true facts about mushrooms:

Fact: There are many mushrooms in the wild that are deadly. Even one bite can make you seriously ill.

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning are sometimes delayed by hours or even days after eating, when the toxins have begun to attack the liver and other organs.

Fact: Certain species can cause hallucinations, dizziness, drowsiness, dilated pupils, or muscle spasms. Other species cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, and sharp abdominal pain.

Fact: If you think that you have ingested poisonous mushrooms you should contact your local poison control center as soon as possible (Canadian Poison Control Centers).

Fact: Canadian Mushroom Farmers put out a great product that is available in all your local grocery stores.

This is why I never take any chances and buy my mushrooms from the local grocery store, they always have every mushroom that I need, and are always safe and delicious.

The Mushroom Lady takes no responsibility for the picking and consumption of wild mushrooms based upon the information stated above.

1 comment:

Iamcuriousblue said...

Actually, its a myth that wild mushrooms can never be consumed safely. Wild mushrooms can be consumed safely, as long as one has taken the effort to learn to distinguish edible species from poisonous one. The best way to learn this is from an mushroom pickers – your local mycological society is a great place to meet such people.

Furthermore, wild mushrooms are often a great deal tastier than cultivated ones, which is why people seek them out.