The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms

Pocket Guide to Wild
MushroomsMy publisher sent me a copy of The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms to review, and I'd highly recommend this book to anyone hunting for edible long as you live in the right area.  The authors, Pelle Holmberg and Hans Marklund, chose fifty of the best edible species, then broke them down into categories based on how easy they would be to confuse with poisonous mushrooms.  Each species description contains two photos, one of the mushroom in the wild, and the other a very well-done studio shot containing various stages of the mushroom's life cycle.

The down-side of the field guide is that it's probably not useful to most of my readers.  The authors don't come out and say this, but I'm guessing from context that they're from Sweden, and most of the mushrooms Pelle Holmbergare listed as living in coniferous northern forests of North America and Europe.  In other words, if you live far enough south that your dominant trees have broad leaves instead of needles, you're mostly out of luck.

While The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms won't be finding a permanent spot on my bookshelf, the book did provide a bit of interesting information.  Did you know that most of the flavors in mushrooms are fat soluble, so your mushrooms will taste much better if you saute them in butter than if you boil them in water?  And that, in the era before farmers provided mineral blocks, cows used to rush into the woods at certain times of the year to consume large quantities of mushrooms, presumably as a mineral boost?

I'm still hunting for the best guide for foraging edible mushrooms in our area, and am open to suggestions.  Mushrooms Demystified and the Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms are good, but the former has a western focus and both are general field guides without an emphasis on edibility.  Do you have a better field guide for finding edible mushrooms in the wild?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm not at all good at harvesting mushrooms (though I'm good at eating them!). I've always been told that it really is best if you can spend some time with a mushroom hunter, that it's a hard skill to pick up on your own. I know it would be a drive for you, but if you can get into any of Alan Muskat's classes, it would be well worth the effort. He's in Asheville, NC
Comment by Karyn Sat Jul 27 15:22:55 2013

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