The weather has now turned cold but until a few weeks ago, we were experiencing a very mild autumn and so mushrooms of all kinds were popping up everywhere. But as amateurs, we only picked those that my husband was entirely sure were safe.
Apparently, if you are not sure whether or not your mushrooms are edible, you can take them to a pharmacy. French pharmacists are trained and ‘typically able to identify whether your pick is safe’. But once when we tried that, the 3 pharmacists we consulted were not 100% sure themselves and we had to toss out our bounty.
Given that there are around one thousand intoxications per year, we were not going to take any chances.
There is another risk when looking for mushrooms and that is getting shot while foraging: Hunting season and mushroom season can over-lap (3 of the 13 people killed from hunting during the 2017-2018 season were not hunters.)
Pickers are advised to:
- use a wicker basket – plastic bags accelerate the deterioration and the baskets allow the spores to fall out whilst foraging and thus replanting for next year.
- Separate the different types – incase some are poisonous
- Pick the stem as it helps with identification
- and perhaps wear bright clothing so as to not be confused with a wild animal.
There are over 3,000 varieties of mushroom in France. Some of the favorite edible finds include: Girolles, Cèpes, Morilles, Bolet, Chanterelles, Mousserons, Oronges, Coprin, Sanguins, Pleurote, Coulemelle, and Pied de Mouton.
We were happy to unexpectantly find some Coulemelles and Coprins whilst walking in the forest – because you can never expect anyone to ever reveal where to find these fabulous fungi – It’s a competitive ‘sport’ mushroom picking.
Delicious mushrooms! Simply fried in some butter with freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.