The golden pop of orange surrounded by a the brown of woodland decay combined with a splash of a vibrant green indicated we had found the perfect habitat for mushrooms. This was the inaugural trip this season and while I was filled with the the excitement for the game of hide and seek, it was also just great to get deep into the mountains and smell that fresh air that is so indicative of this time of year.
Now, I’m not an experienced forager of mushrooms, but I’m learning. For the past two years I’ve been going out with some friends who have been at this a long time and grew up in a family that hunted mushrooms on a regular basis. They are great instructors and I now feel with confidence that I could safely identify a Chanterelle. There is something so liberating about being able to find free and healthy foods. Not only is the process of the hunting for the mushrooms a fun game it is a freedom & independence that is also deeply satisfying. While I would advise against just storming off into the woods to find mushrooms, I’d suggest that you check out a few of these reference likes below to begin your quest.
1) Mushrooms Demystified. This is the holy grail of reference books while it is not a great field guide to throw in your ruck due to its size and weight — it absolutely should be on your bookshelf.
2) The Mycological Society of America: This is a great organization and if you can find a local chapter then that is also a great way to start asking question and learning. Plus, it’ll off a more hands on approach if you find that you learn better that way. They also will be a great resource to help you know what kind of field guide to get for your particular location.
3) Your first 10 Mushrooms: A great site that highlights what should be your first 10 easily to identify wild edible mushrooms.
While these references are great to help get you started or aid in refining your existing skills. I would also add that I believe the best way to learn to forage for mushrooms is with a knowledgeable guide. I admit that we are lucky that we have some friends who have been doing this a long time and come from families who have been doing it an even longer time and were their teachers. Mushroom hunters can be an interesting breed of folks and they often times are secretive about their honey patches, which is no different than any other hunter who wants to protect their sacred grounds. Understanding that, there are still patches that are easy to find and some patches are also pretty public. Keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions, and you too will be well on your way to finding wild edibles.