Sunday, November 18, 2012

Top 10 Mushroom Mistakes

Autumn is the best time for mushrooms in the Pyrenees. Those that are edible like the girolle are a great addition to omelettes or sauces. Those that are poisonous, like the Fly Agaric, can cause health problems and sometimes death. It is obviously important to distinguish between the two groups.

There are several falsehoods regarding mushrooms that don't help pick the edible from the poisonous. Here are my top 10.

1. All black mushrooms are poisonous. The Horn of Plenty, which is black and is called The Trumpet of Death in French, is in fact edible.

Horn of Plenty (Photo: Wikipedia)

2. All white mushrooms are edible. The mushroom below which is all white and resembles the commonly eaten button mushroom is in fact poisonous.

Destroying Angel

3. Slugs only eat edible mushrooms. Slugs will eat any mushroom.

4. Cooking a poisonous mushroom will make it edible. Poisonous mushrooms remain poisonous even after cooking.

5. Edibel mushrooms only grow in pine forests. Edible mushrooms grow in a variety of terrain.

6. All edible mushrooms can be eaten raw. Morels are edible but must be cooked first.

Morel (Photo: Wikipedia)

7. Mushrooms that grow in circles are poisonous. Edible mushrooms like the field mushroom also grow in circles.

8. Mushrooms that grow on trees are poisonous. There are several mushrooms that grow on trees that can be eaten.

Ear of Judas (Photo: Wikipedia)

9. Panther Caps and Fly Agarics are only poisonous when the cap is covered with small white growths/marks/specks. The white marks are absent from young specimins and are sometimes washed off by the rain. The mushroom remains toxic.

Fly Agaric

10. 'Magic' mushrooms are poisonous. They are not. According to research in 2006  the active ingredient in 'magic' mushrooms (Psilocybin), can cause 'spiritually significant moments' that lead to sustained 'increases in well being.'

'One-third of the participants reported that the experience was the single most spiritually significant moment of their lives and more than two-thirds reported it was among the top five most spiritually significant experiences. Two months after the study, 79% of the participants reported increased well-being or satisfaction; friends, relatives, and associates confirmed this. They also reported anxiety and depression symptoms to be decreased or completely gone. Fourteen months after the study 64% of participants said they still experienced an increase in well-being or life satisfaction.'

Although not poisonous, 'magic' mushrooms remain illegal in the US (Class 1) and in the UK  (Class A). In France it is illegal to pick, transport and sell them.