A fungus lover’s foray        into fun foraging

March 6th, 2021A fungus lover’s foray into fun foraging

INTEREST in foraging for wild food is on the rise, and magnificent mushrooms are very much on the menu. But if you’re gathering your own, you’ve got to get it right. From the right knowledge and equipment, to following a forager's Code of Practice.

With fungi being incredibly diverse, delicious (and sometimes deadly) a new book from CSIRO Publishing, Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers, delivers expert advice on the best ways to go about finding, identifying and collecting the right mushrooms…as well as a mouth-watering selection of recipes to enjoy, too.

The book is co-authored by leading experts, Daylesford resident, Alison Pouliot and Tom May and has been a collaborative project five years in the making. It includes sections on where, when, and how to find fungi and guides the forager in the identification of a selection of edible species.
“We advocate what we describe as a ‘slow mushrooming’ approach,” say the authors.
“We encourage foragers to learn a few species thoroughly, rather than many superficially. This means slowing down, taking your time and being an astute observer of both fungi and their surrounds.”

The publication is an extensively illustrated guide which melds scientific and cultural knowledge, equipping the reader with the knowledge to find the right mushrooms while encouraging ‘ecological foraging’ to minimise environmental harm.
There are also checklists of features for both edible and toxic species to enable the reader to differentiate the desirable from the deadly. Hints on where, when and how to find fungi enhance the reader’s ability to recognise targeted species.
Armed with the right knowledge, there are many rewards to savour and the book includes a large section of recipes. From omelettes to pies, and curries to risotto and pasta, you’ll be enticed by 29 mouth-watering recipes that can be adapted for both foraged and cultivated fungi.
Alison Pouliot is an ecologist and environmental photographer with a focus on fungi. She is active in Australian and international fungal conservation and her writing and images appear in both academic and popular literature. Alison’s fungus forays, which she conducts across both hemispheres, attract a range of people from foragers and philosophers to rangers and traditional owners.
Tom May is a mycologist with more than four decades getting to know Australian fungi. He has published widely on fungal taxonomy, ecology, and conservation in scientific and popular literature, including checklists of Australian fungi and a key to genera of Australian mushrooms (FunKey). He is active in international mycological groups and in community natural history organisations, founding Fungimap in 1995. He was awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2014.

Forest cooked mushrooms on sourdough bread
From Florian Hofinger, Mt Franklin Organics

Mushrooms have wonderful flavours and the best way to bring them out is to keep the recipe simple. This is a favourite recipe from my childhood days in the Austrian Alps.

Serves 2 / preparation & cooking time: 20 minutes

100g butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
300g wild mushrooms, cleaned & chopped, or left whole if small
parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
big loaf of sourdough bread

Make a little fire. Once you’ve got a good coal bed, put frypan on top. When hot, add butter and chopped garlic. Stir so it doesn’t brown. Cook for a few minutes.

Throw in mushrooms and parsley. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until they are soft. You need to test them as it is hard to estimate an exact time as it depends on the heat of your fire. Season to taste with pepper and salt and a good splash of white wine. Reduce a little. Use thick slices of bread to scoop out mushrooms and mop up juices. And don’t waste the rest of the wine! Drink the remainder to wash them down.

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