back to article Need an internet antidote? Try magic mushrooms

Autumn has wrapped its frosty claws around the Special Project Bureau's Spanish mountaintop headquarters, and as we prepare to hunker down for the winter, there's a final opportunity to spend some quality time away from the internet, and stock the larder with nature's bounteous harvest. This year's cornucopia verily runneth …


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  1. bill 36
    Thumb Up

    Boletus edulis

    Looks to be what's called Steinpilze in German.

    Every year we get marauding hordes of Italians into the Austrian mountains in search of said fungus.

    This year, because of the hot summer, they were in very short supply and were reportedly changing hands for 50 euro/kilo in Salzburg.

    But i can confirm that they are indeed an Emperors dinner especially when simmered in a shallow pan with a veggie soup base,,,ie; a knorr cube...some garlic and salt and pepper. Leave for 20 mins.

    Deelish :>)

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Boletus edulis

      Called "White Mushroom" in Russia (as it does not change colour and the flesh remains white when cut) and is considered the culinary "king" of mushrooms.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Boletus edulis

        Probably best known to foodies by their Italian name, porcini, or their French name, ceps. Readily available dried.

        Now if you'd found morels...

  2. Ben Rosenthal

    Careful with the Fly Agaric, I believe they need to be dried out correctly or they can make you pretty poorly instead of flying you to the moon.

    Well that's what I heard :)

    1. Dances With Sheep

      Fly Agaric

      > Careful with the Fly Agaric, I believe they need to be dried out correctly or they can make you pretty poorly

      Is correct.

      Even if dried out properly, you will likely have an upset gut. Other 'shrooms are prefered.

      Safety note: Always save a sample of any wild mushroom you eat. This might not be of any use at the hospital, but at least they will know what to put on the death certificate :-)

  3. EddieD

    No Chanterelles?

    I've found them in the Pyrenees and across Mallorca - yummy!

    Shaggy Ink caps - fried in butter with garlic...

    Young puffballs..slice, to ensure it's not a young something else...delicious with eggs

    Cepes...'nuff said.

    Also tonnes of wild rosemary, thyme, occasionally marjoram..

    Dang - I'm in scotland, and our 'shrooms have been a hurried lover - came and went...

  4. Khaptain Silver badge


    Great article

    Reminds me of my Mother In Laws "Croute aux champignons"

    Chanterelles ( Cantharellus in English)

    Bolet ( Commonly known as Cepes in France)

    Morilles ( Which I think are known as morels in English)

    Cream, White wine, butter, flour, salt and pepper.

    It is normally eaten alone or on toast as a starter and it is simply delicious....

  5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Poisonous fungi

    Death caps and the other commonly found deadly species 'destroying angel' can both be easily distinguished by the fact that they have a white cap and white gills. As a rule of thumb, NEVER eat any mushroom with white gills. It's a pretty bad idea to go eating Amanita Muscaria too, as although it can be hallucinogenic, it's likely to cause you a serious and unpleasant digestive complaint.

    If you're serious about picking and eating any wild mushrooms, make sure you have a good identification guide that details things like the shape of gills and colour of spore print, and which has good illustrations and lists other species that a mushroom can be confused with. If in any doubt at all about the identity of a fungus, do not eat it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poisonous fungi

      Very good advice, but down here in the French pyrenees I was told to go to the local chemist shop and they would sort any I found - they do, at no cost.

  6. Nick Porter

    And in exotic Surrey...

    We've had a bumper crop of Boletus edulis - I've had some absolute whoppers - 400g plus, no maggots or slug damage.

    And no, I'm not saying where.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: And in exotic Surrey...

      Same up here in sunny Yorkshire, although in the case of the 'shrooms near our office the maggots, slugs and assorted other wildlife evidently got there first :-(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And in exotic Surrey...

      These used to grow in abundance in parts of Windsor great park.

  7. Nick Porter

    Boletus edulis although properly called Penny Bun in English is often referred to as Cep or Porcino (the Italian name for it). They are awesome.

    Best book to avoid self-poisoning is:

    1. Slartybardfast

      I agree about Roger Philips book, it's definitely the best. It is quite big though and too big to be be used as a field guide. I've found the MacDonald Encyclopedia of Mushrooms and Toadstools a handy field guide. I don't think it's still in print (pub 1985) but it is available secondhand at Amazon. It has a half page per mushroom and contains "real" photographs rather than illustrations. It also states edibility and has a handy identification key at the front.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        If you can find a copy at a reasonable price, this book, which is now sadly out of print, has the type neatly split up into sections (gill fungi, boletes, etc.), with good quality half-page photographs, full details of spore print, gill shape, and where applicable odour and colour when cut, as well as details of commonly confused species. It also has a list at the front of the deadly and seriously poisonous species for easy elimination. I have no idea why it is out of print, but I have seen second-hand copies for £250 or so, so it is clearly still valued by those in the know. Maybe the publisher should be encouraged to re-print it.

  8. DaneB
    IT Angle

    South Wales harvest

    I suggest the foothills near Cardiff to be rather ripe for your own yield of finest hallucenogenics.

    One halloween party I will never forget.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: South Wales harvest

      Garth Hill was particularly productive a few weeks back, until my mate allowed half of them to go mouldy whilst drying out :(

  9. Sandpit

    Bigger risk than you think

    i used to forage a lot (30 years ago) and regarded myself as a bit of an expert. One day I had an upset stomach and fearing that I may have made an error I did the thing that all responsibile advice recommends. Packed myself of to hospital together with what remains of the mushrroms I had eaten. Well it's a good job my ailement was unrelated because you will get absolutely NO help from our NHS if you do poison yourself. The attitude is "silly hippy go home".

    I now never advise anyone to do this and rarely eat anything myself. Any mistake you make and you are on your own, there will be no medical help.

    1. Slartybardfast

      Re: Bigger risk than you think

      Not wanting to criticise but your experience of the NHS 30 or so years ago may have little bearing on what they would do today.

      Mind you given NHS funding at the moment, maybe it would be worse.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bigger risk than you think

        "Mind you given NHS funding at the moment, maybe it would be worse."

        I think your magic mushrooms have clouded your judgement, since the NHS Confederation report: "NHS net expenditure (resource plus capital, minus depreciation) has increased from £57.049 billion in 2002/03 to £105.254bn in 2012/13."

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    pArasole mushrooms

    Found 5 in my field - you can only get one in the frying pan at a time and they're pretty good too. I have had one that was over 15" across.

    But the best fungi are those around the roots of trees - I do hope my puppy can be trained to find them

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: pArasole mushrooms

      Had some very good ones of those in Norfolk a month ago. The larger ones we collected were the size of dinner plates, and they are pretty much impossible to confuse with anything else (other than shaggy parasols which are also edible) due to their size and appearance.

      The seem to grow at the edge of woodland and in hedges, we didn't find any in amongst the trees

  11. Jon Green

    Welcome to the ranks of foragers!

    Hey Lester - delighted that you decided to give foraging a go, after we'd nudged you a bit. :)

    A few years ago now, my wife and I were visiting some ancient monument in Derbyshire when we spotted a gap in a chain-link fence nearby. Well, you've got to explore, haven't you? So we did, and ended up in a narrow defile of a valley. It looked like one of those improbable pictures in a mushroom textbook! All it needed was little numbers next to each clump of mushies. We counted about 35 different varieties, of which six were definite eaters, and a couple were delicacies. Oh, and one or two that would have sent you to your own private world for a few hours...which is why we reckon the chain-link was beaten down...

  12. David Given

    Not so magic mushrooms

    The school where I grew up (long story) was in the country in Perthshire; its playing fields were apparently reckoned to be one the the best sources in Scotland for magic mushrooms. During the season there used to be all sorts of weird people lurking in the undergrowth, not all of them pupils.

    Eventually the school started patrolling the place with big dogs to try and keep them out. Yeah, that was... strange.

  13. Peter Revell

    Edible Mushrooms

    My field bible is 'Collins how to identify Edible Mushrooms' by Hardin, Lyon and Tomblin published in 1996 in a waterproof sleeve. It cost £9.99 then and I don't know whether there have been later editions.

    It is crammed to the gills (sorry) with much sound info for every edible mushroom so no one should make a mistake.

  14. Austhinker

    Are there any guides in electronic format?

    With seemingly every second person carrying an Ipad or similar, an electronic guide would be ideal - no extra weight, and could use electronic indexing (links) to simplify searching for the mushroom you've found.

    Pretty soon it should even be possible to have an app that recognises mushrooms from a picture taken with the device's camera - although it might be wise to double-check the description in case the app made a potentially fatal mistake.

    1. Jon Green

      Re: Are there any guides in electronic format?

      I'm afraid it doesn't work quite like that, Austhinker! There's a number of groups of fungi types that are visually very similar, and can only really be distinguished by spore print, and microscopic examination of spores. (To get a spore print, leave a cap, minus stipe, on a piece of card that's half-black, half-white, under an upturned bowl, overnight. Then carefully lift away the bowl and cap, and you can see the spore print on one half or other of the sheet - so long as you've made sure there's no breeze to disturb the spore pattern.) The problem is that, in several of these groups, there are both eaters and deadly poisonous mushrooms.

      A portable guide would be handy to help novices identify the most easily distinguished eaters - the ones that can't be mistaken for harmful fungi - but it would be no good for taxonomy of the majority of look-alikes, and could lead to tragically incorrect identifications.

      In France, every pharmacist has training in mushroom identification, and provides a free service, checking trugs of fungi for safety. Sadly, here in the UK, we're not so blessed.

  15. Osgard Leach

    Very nice SPB but the young lady looks less convinced, you sure she likes mushrooms?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. shrooms

    Has anyone ever seen the glowing variety?

    I read an article that suggests a way to harvest the glowing compound from these for making DIY OLEDs.

    Turns out that it is chemically similar to DPA and glows green when dissolved in a very mild alcohol such as IPA and suspended between two electrodes with a few volts applied.

    Google "electrochemiluminescence"

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