Renowned wild food forager James Wood runs wild food cookery and foraging courses throughout the UK. This month he gives Live Ribble Valley readers his favourite recipe using porcini mushrooms
For this issue I’ve taken the bold decision to briefly discuss fungi. There’s something magical about this time of year and about mushrooms in general. Although totally different in other areas of the world, fungi in the UK is typically left solely to the specialists and it’s believed that anyone who isn’t a specialist should strictly not pick them to eat – and in some cases not even touch them.
I think this idea may start to change, however I would advise you to accompany a forager on a fungi walk to ensure total safety. I’m going to start with a mushroom and mushroom family I believe that foragers can be safe eating from the wild. However a good fungi guide is always essential when out picking and don’t eat anything you’re not 100 per cent certain on.
Porcini or Penny Buns (Boletus Edulis)
Instead of describing specifically the Penny Bun, as a professional forager I’m going to give you an overall guide to safely eating mushrooms in the Boletus family.
All mushrooms in this family have stalks, but on the underside, where you would find a set of gills on store-bought mushrooms, you will find a spongey surface.
There are three rules to safely eat only the Boletus family of fungi – follow these three rules and foragers can eat any fungi from the Boletus family. Please note – these rules can only be used to secure safe eating from the Boletus family of fungi and cannot be used as a rule for all wild mushrooms.
THE THREE RULES:
• If there is any red colouring on either the cap or underside of the fungi discard it
• If you cut the mushroom and it stains blue discard it
• If you taste some of the mushroom and it tastes intensely arid and bitter then discard it
If it passes these three tests then it’s good to eat. If you are unsure do not eat. Alternatively buy some from a specialist supplier, join a forager on a fungi walk or buy them dried on the internet.
Don’t eat any mushrooms if you’re not 100 per cent certain of their species and whether they’re safe and good to eat.
James Wood and Live Magazines hold no responsibility for your safety while picking and eating wild mushrooms.
James Wood’s The Forager’s Cookbook is available through Amazon