Are you ready to hunt for wild mushrooms… safely?
Since I’ve gotten on a mushroom kick, I’ve been doing a LOT of fungal reading and have acquired a good number of new books for my library so I can ID mushrooms, especially edible mushrooms.
Below are some of the ones I’ve been enjoying thus far, along with their Amazon links (remember, if you decide to buy anything on Amazon… click through one of my links and I’ll make a few pennies).
All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
Though I’m in Florida there’s a lot of bleed over in mushroom species from the west coast. Even if that wasn’t the case, this book is worth buying just because David Arora is brilliant and hilarious.
You wouldn’t think that a mushroom guide would be funny, but this one is a scream. I was laughing out loud and waking my wife up.
Here’s the more in-depth book from Arora that’s a must-have for serious wild mushroom aficionados:
Mushrooms Demystified is a hefty book with a ton of information in it. Very worth having, if somewhat unwieldy. It’s also packed with snarky jokes and visual gags, despite its scientific pedigree. I really like David Arora’s writing and endless enthusiasm.
For the person just interested in getting started with edible mushrooms, here’s another option:
100 Edible Mushrooms
Micheal Kuo isn’t nearly as fun as David Arora and some across as a little persnickety after the wild exuberance of “All That the Rain Promises,” however, 100 Edible Mushrooms is in-depth and thoughtful, plus it’s easier to dive into than a tome such as Mushrooms Demystified. It also has recipes. I own it and have been enjoying picking my way through it.
Now if you’re ready to hit the field, I’ve found this guide to be the best so far:
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides)
This guide was actually written by the brilliant mushroom hunter Gary Lincoff and the expertise shines through. It’s well-organized and contains excellent photographs in color, unlike the black and white of most of the photos in Mushrooms Demystified. Gary Lincoff also wrote this book, which I own as well:
The Complete Mushroom Hunter: An Illustrated Guide to Finding, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms
The Complete Mushroom Hunter will fill you with excitement for the hunt. It was the first book I read after Paul Stamet’s must-read book Mycellium Running and it really pushed me out the door.
Speaking of Paul Stamets, here’s a link to his book:
Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World
Finally, don’t forget to get a copy of Common Florida Mushrooms from the UF bookstore!
Over the last week I’ve eaten boletes, chanterelles, puffballs, three Lactarius indigos, plus I picked an “Old Man of the Woods” yesterday which I’ll be eating for breakfast today.
I’m feeling rich – I’ve never been able to afford to eat as many mushrooms as I’d like… and here they’ve been growing under my feet all the time and I was too scared. Armed with lots of reading material and guides I’m no longer afraid – and it’s not like I’m taking risks! None of the species I’ve eaten has any dangerous lookalikes that can’t be weeded out with a cursory examination of the mushroom in question.
Grab some books and give it a go yourself!
David's Arora's book cover gave me a good laugh. No doubt, he found a mother lode of mushrooms with such glee. I love mushrooms myself but, they are expensive here, too. Wonder if there is a way to grow them here on my farm? Enjoy all the good finds you can get, David!
You certainly could grow them. What you want to find is the "oyster mushroom." They'll grow on wood, straw, sawdust, probably even on sugarcane wastes. The trick would be getting the first ones to start with.
Wonder if I could successfully mail you mushroom spawn…
Couldn't you make a spore print and mail that?
I liked your list of suggested reading. We have been learning about mushrooms in our homeschool. It has been fun. I read a book called Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares by Greg A. Marley that you might enjoy. I found it to be a very interesting read. He talks about edible mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, mushroom history and lore, and even bioluminescent mushrooms.
Sounds like a lot of fun.