Mushroom Harvest

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An hour and a half in the woods around little nearby lakelet Knipträsk garnered us a fine harvest of mushrooms. The last time I blogged about a shroom-picking expedition we had ten kinds. Today we had eleven, most of them hedgehogs and boletes:

  • Terracotta hedgehog, Rödgul taggsvamp, Hydnum rufescens

  • Birch bolete, Björksopp, Leccinum scabrum
  • King bolete, Stensopp/Karl Johan, Boletus edulis
  • Velvet bolete, Sandsopp, Suillus variegatus
  • Slippery Jack, Smörsopp, Suillus luteus
  • Gypsy mushroom, Rynkad tofsskivling, Rozites caperata
  • Common puffball, Vårtig röksvamp, Lycoperdon perlatum
  • Black trumpet, Svart trumpetsvamp, Craterellus cornucopioides
  • Shrimp russula, Sillkremla, Russula xerampelina
  • Red russula, Tegelkremla, Russula decolorans
  • Slimy spike, Citronslemskivling, Gomphidius glutinosus

A funny thing about mushrooms is that they didn’t really have names in Swedish before the dawn of mycology in the 19th century. The serious-minded and practical farmers of the past didn’t eat mushrooms and so had no reason to name individual species. With their almost negligible nutritional value, mushrooms are for pleasure only.

Author and comedian Jonas Gardell once said (and I paraphrase), “Nobody in my family has ever been gay or depressed or a poet or a junkie, because they have always been too busy picking mushrooms”.

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Comments

  1. #1 Larry Ayers
    August 31, 2008

    Oh, lucky you! Elias Magnus Fries would be proud if he heard about your comestible finds from another mycological ghost.

    Although we’ve had ample rains this summer, I have yet to find any substantial fruitings of boletes, chanterelles, etc. That’s part of the appeal of mushroom-hunting, though — you can’t predict fruitings!

  2. #2 Rosie Redfield
    August 31, 2008

    Fresh little puffballs (we never get big ones here) in the lawn beside the Office of Research Services yesterday.

  3. #3 Strider
    August 31, 2008

    I’m jealous! I don’t know enough about mushies to pick any non-morels but I always await the advent of the season here with great anticipation.

  4. #4 Pär
    August 31, 2008

    I tend to ignore the hedgehogs altogether, since I find them a tad bland. Mostly nice fillers if you’re unable find enough good ones. This year seems to be an all-time high for the king bolete, my home woods are really infested with them. I’ve had better chanterelle years, though.

    No saffron milk caps (blodriskor)? I really like them – intense and interesting flavour. Also, I would like to find some matsutake to see what it is about them that makes the Japanese tick.

  5. #5 Martin R
    August 31, 2008

    Strider, you pick the poisonous morels but know no shrooms that you can eat without leaching them first!?

    Pär, nope, saw neither bloody nor bearded milk caps. The former are indeed great, though often wormy. Matsutake is goliatmusseron. I’ve never had the pleasure. But I like blåmusseron and riddarmusseron.

  6. #6 Pär
    August 31, 2008

    I’ve always steered clear of the wood blewits (blåmusseron), since there is something inherently perverse about blue food. Maybe I should give them a try next time.

  7. #7 Björn
    August 31, 2008

    I have never picked mushrooms, even though I love chanterelles. I have however stumbled along in cold, mosquito-infested bogs trying to find cloudberries (hjortron).

  8. #8 The Scarlet Tree
    August 31, 2008

    They were always growing in cow dung on our farm so I din’t pick them much. But they are very high in selenium, thought to fight cancer also, Bvitamins and potassium. Very good for you! Even better when cooked in lots of butter :)

  9. #9 Ingvar
    September 3, 2008

    Amusingly, Karl-Johan is also called “cep” in English.

    Martin, there are false morels and true morels. The false morels are usually called “stenmurkla” (Gyromitra esculenta) in Swedish and are indeed poisonous, but can be rendered safe by simmering and drying multiple times.

    The true morel (“Rund toppmurkla”, Morchella esculenta), is not poisonous.

    Due to not having found any other source of translations of mushroom names between Swedish and ENglish, I did actually sit down and prepared some cross-references (keying on the Latin name), here (and given a suitable pairing of other language / latin, other languages can be prepared).

  10. #10 Dunc
    September 3, 2008

    Amusingly, Karl-Johan is also called “cep” in English.

    Technically, it’s a “penny bun” in English and a “cep” in French, but the French name has caught on in Britain.

  11. #11 Bill Poser
    September 4, 2008

    I am struck by the idea that one should avoid morels for fear of eating false morels. I actually recommend to people who don’t know much about mushrooms that they start with morels because the only thing you can mistake for a morel is a false morel, and eating a false morel will just make you a bit sick, it won’t kill you. In contrast, make a mistake with some other kinds of mushrooms and you might eat an Amanita, which may kill you.

  12. #12 Ingvar
    September 4, 2008

    Bill, I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re likely to make you “a little bit sick”.

    Quoting from http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/may2002.html, we can see:

    Gyromitrin is a hemolytic toxin (i.e. it destroys red blood cells) in humans, other primates, and dogs. It is toxic to the central nervous system and damages the liver and gastrointestinal tract. It may act by interfering with transaminases, particularly those having a pyridoxal phosphate cofactor. Vitamin B6 is used in the treatment. As in cyclopeptide poisoning, a relatively long latent period ensues (6 to 12 hours) between ingestion and symptoms. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, distention, weakness, lassitude, and headache; if the condition is severe, these may develop into jaundice, convulsions, coma, and death. Methemoglobinuria and very low blood sugar are found in laboratory tests.

    It is also (from the same page) implicated in 2%-4% of all mushroom-related deaths.

  13. #13 Melissa G
    September 6, 2008

    The false morel and the true morel are actually strikingly different in appearance. I have never even been tempted in passing to mistake one for the other.

  14. #14 Martin R
    September 7, 2008

    In Sweden, the most sought-after morel and the kind Swedes think of when you mention morels is a species of false morel, stenmurkla, Gyromitra esculenta. We have only one species of true morel, toppmurkla, Morchella conica, and it is far rarer.

  15. #15 owlfarmer
    September 11, 2008

    Wow! This brought back memories. My Swedish former daughter-in-law used to rave about how much fun she and her family had foraging for mushrooms near their country home. I’ve become something of a fungus fiend over the years, not so much for eating but for the sheer beauty and strangeness of their varieties. One of the best treats in the world (not gastronomic, unfortunately) is watching the various manifestations of the death/decay/rebirth cycle that appear in my woodpile.

  16. #16 Bill Poser
    September 13, 2008

    Ingvar,

    Interesting about the false morel poison, but, at least in North America, the false morels have the reputation of being much less dangerous than, say, the Amanitas. Perhaps this is unjustified, or conceivably the concentration is different in different regions?

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