Foraging for mushrooms is so much fun. 🙂 However, as with anything, do be safe and smart about your choices. There is a bit of a learning curve and it’s important to rely on the wisdom of those who are more experienced.
Be Safe, Be Smart!
I’m still something of a newbie, so I’m going slow and learning to identify one or two new kinds each year adding to my repertoire of mushroom identifying skills.
1. Don’t Forage Alone
Foraging for mushrooms generally takes you out and about. It’s easy to get lost when you’re wandering around looking down around your shoes or up into the trees. Buddy up and take a friend. Take your phone with a GPS app. (Some folks pack a whistle.)
2. Be Legal, Play Nice
It’s impolite to hop a fence and start looking for mushrooms. Find out who owns the land and ask permission. Research local and state laws as well. Most states allow foraging for personal use but may have limits on amounts you can gather. Tread lightly and don’t leave any trash about. You may also want to consider whether an area might be polluted or treated in any way. Avoid these.
3. Take Drinking Water and Appropriate Gear
Sip on a water bottle as you go (maybe pack a couple of snacks). Wear a hat and good hiking shoes. Since you will likely be walking about in fields and forests, it’s a good thing to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts (protection from tree limbs, brambles, poison ivy, and such). Bug spray is another bit of useful gear.
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Mushrooms need to be cut off at ground level and tucked in a breathable bag or basket. Some folks like mesh bags because as you walk along, your mushrooms are dropping spores for next year’s foraging.
It’s a good idea to take along a field guide as well. If you pick up something you’re not quite sure of, tuck it in a paper bag separate from your other mushrooms until you can identify it (don’t want to cross-contaminate).
4. Be Kind and Leave a Bit Behind
It’s tempting to take everything you find, I know. However, you can only eat so many mushrooms and it’s kind to leave a little for others and leave something for nature to use to make more mushrooms. Take a few nice mushrooms and leave the rest.
5. Don’t Eat Anything You Are Not 100% Sure Of
There are a bazillion different kinds of mushrooms and there is a learning curve to finding the edible kind. Read good books. Join a mushroom identification group on or offline. Hang with experienced foragers. Learn. Learn. Learn. And don’t eat anything you are not 100% sure of. (Mushrooming Without Fear is one of the best books for newbies.)
Related Reading: Morel Mushrooms - Easy to identify and yummy to eat!