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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Collect, Clean, and Store Mushrooms

Respect for nature is essential among people with a healthy thinking attitude. However, sometimes when I'm hiking into the nearby forests to hunt for mushrooms I can easily notice that someone has been there before me by inspecting the picked up and then thrown away mushroom fragments (no matter if they're edible or poisonous). I suddenly realize that probably is someone without 'information on board'..someone without respect for nature.

How to Collect Mushrooms in The Wild
Some people are used to collect mushrooms by applying a sudden pull to the whole bouquet of mushrooms, a habit that has been proven to affect mushroom production in that certain spot. When hunting for mushrooms in the wild you should use a knife to cut their base or you may twist their stem slowly and then cover the spot with forest litter or soil. This habit is essential for the mycelium located at the base of the mushrooms stem to develop and to provide another round of mushrooms in the near future. You should collect wild mushrooms into a basket; this is important for ventilation purposes and to preserve mushroom fruitbody integrity during collection.

Basket full of Suillus sp. Photo:

How to Clean Collected Mushrooms
You should avoid to rinse them with water first and then to store them. Instead it's important to wipe them in order to get rid of impurities such as forest litter remnants or soil. Some people I know used to pill their skin off and they are doing this to all mushrooms they pick. I'm not doing this except when picking some species such as Suillus sp.

How to Store Collected Wild Mushrooms
Once collected, the mushrooms should be stored into a fridge within 2 to 3 hours from their collection. Under these conditions, you should prepare them within 24 hours because if you noticed during your mushroom hunting adventures, fruitbodies tend to heat especially when it's hot outside. This happens due to their intense enzymatic activity and metabolism. The button mushrooms resist at low temperature for several days without spoiling. However, there are some edible wild species such as Coprinus sp. (The Shaggy Cap) that must be prepared as soon as possible because their cap turns into a black ink even when stored into the fridge.

By contrast you should avoid collecting them into plastic bags, to store them outside over night at room temperature or to prepare them after 2-3 days especially because they tend to spoil fast and loose their quality.

Another storage option is to dry them. To cut them into thin slices and then put them on a paper upon direct sunlight for 2-4 days. This way, you may use your mushrooms whenever you need within 2 years.
A delicious and medicinal species suitable for this is Auricularia auricula (Ear Mushroom) that is able to re-hydrate when soaked into water. 

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The Author Recommends
Here are some of recommendations for books I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms -by Paul Stamets
The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home -by Paul Stamets Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World -by Paul Stamets
Shiitake Growers Handbook: The Art and Science of Mushroom Cultivation -by Paul Przybylowicz, John Donoghue
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