What kinds of mushroom can I find?
There are many different types of mushroom, each with their own unique look. However, most mushrooms are identifiable by their stem and cap. Under the cap are either gills or pores. Pores are small holes, and gills look like strings going from the outer rim of the cap to the stem. Generally, mushrooms with pores under their caps (boletaceae) are edible and tasty, and there is virtually no risk in picking and eating them. You need to be more careful with gilled mushrooms: they can be delicious, but a lot of them have a foul taste, and some are poisonous. Many other mushrooms don't look like mushrooms at all, but can be eaten—if you know how to handle them.
What kind of equipment do I need to pick mushrooms?
A small knife, a brush, and a capacious basket are the most important tools for a mushroom hunt.
How do I pick the mushrooms?
Any mushroom with a thick stem (such as boletaceae) can be cut at its base. Mushrooms with more fragile stems should be picked by hand. Before putting it in your basket, carve open the mushroom to make sure it is not infested with worms.
How do I clean mushrooms?
Use your brush to remove leaves or dirt from the mushrooms before putting them in the basket. When you get home, you can clean them more thoroughly with the brush, but rinsing them in water should be a last resort: mushrooms soak up liquid, turning the springy meat dull and soggy.
Do I need to be careful of anything when foraging mushrooms?
Both the death cap and the European destroying angel are common, and potentially deadly. Less toxic mushroom varieties will give you stomach aches. In sum, only eat the mushroom if you are certain which type it is. If there is any doubt, there is no doubt: leave unidentified fungi alone.
How do I store mushrooms?
Fresh mushrooms should be stored in the fridge, in a paper bag or similar container that lets them breathe. Most mushrooms keep for three to four days when stored this way, but boletaceae quickly become flaccid and rubbery, thus demanding immediate consumption. A lot of mushrooms can be frozen or dried if you want to extend the mushroom season in your kitchen. Thawed or macerated mushrooms might not be as interesting as their fresh kin, but they are perfect in stews and risotto.
How do I dry mushrooms?
Not all mushrooms tolerate being dried, so first be sure their type is amenable to the process. Quick drying takes four to five hours at 50C in a fan-assisted oven. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices before putting them in the oven. Open the door once in a while to let the steam out. You can also dry the mushrooms on a heater for about 24 hours, or simply put them on a paper towel in a room with a draft for a couple of days. Dried mushrooms can be stored in an airtight container for about a year, and can be macerated in water in a couple of hours.
How do I freeze mushrooms?
If you want to freeze the mushrooms you should cut them into smaller bits and blanch or fry them for a couple of minutes. The frozen mushrooms will keep for up to a year, if you haven't used any fat in the frying pan. If you fry them in fat before freezing them, they only keep for half that time; the upside to using fat is that you can take them from the freezer and pour them directly into your dish.