Mushrooms are rather unpopular in gardens because they are difficult to get rid of. However, picking edible mushrooms is a real delight for foodies. In September and October, they literally shoot out of the ground. However, if you don't know where to start looking for these delicacies, the search often takes a long time and is not very successful. So here, we would like to introduce you to the most popular edible mushrooms, such as the edible boletus (Boletus edulis), bay-coloured bolete (Xerocomus badius) and the chanterelle (Cantharelus cibarius), and to give you a few mushroom picking tips.
The equipment you will need for picking mushrooms comprises a basket to put the mushrooms in and a knife to cut them. A mushroom identification book is, of course, a must. You should always take this with you when you go hunting for mushrooms. A magnifying glass in order to take a closer look at mushrooms which you might not recognise would also not go amiss.
If you are new to mushroom picking, it would be best to take someone who has extensive knowledge of mushrooms with you on your foray because it isn't easy to spot the right ones when you are a novice. Adult education centres often offer mushroom picking trips - and here you can also learn the most important things about starting to pick mushrooms and the right places to find mushrooms in your area.
Important rules when picking mushrooms:
- Never try mushrooms which you can't identify, even if they smell nice and look tasty. Appearances can be deceptive and your adventure may not end well.
- If you want to pick mushrooms which you can't identify so that you can look them up when you get home to see if they are edible, please take the roots with you. Otherwise, it doesn't matter whether you prise the mushrooms out of the ground or cut them off at the stalk.
- Never pick old or really small mushrooms or mushrooms which have been nibbled by animals or ripped out of the ground.
- It is best to eat mushrooms on the day you pick them as they spoil quickly.
- Never eat raw mushrooms.
- If you are new to mushroom picking, it is best not to go hunting for them on your own.
The most popular edible mushrooms to be found in German woods include ceps, bay boletes and chanterelles. Here are brief descriptions of these mushrooms.
The most popular mushroom among pickers is the cep, also known as porcino. The German name 'Herrenpilz' - the 'gentleman's mushroom' - is derived from the fact that traditionally, when this mushroom was found, it had to be given to the squire or estate owner.
The cep belongs to the boletus genus, which is known for its firm flesh. Its smooth cap reaches a diameter of 5-25 cm. The cap is light to chestnut brown. The tubes on the underside of the cap are whitish when young but age to a greenish-yellow colour. The stalk is shaped like a club and is covered in fine white reticulations. The cep can be found between September and November in coniferous forests, under spruce trees, and - as a rule - before the first frost comes and the ground freezes.
Do not wash ceps to prepare them, since they can become saturated with water. It is better to use a small brush to brush them off or to wipe them clean with some kitchen roll.
As the name bay bolete suggests, this mushrooms belongs, like the cep, to the boletus genus. Its cap is chestnut brown and only grows to between 5 and 10 cm. The tubes are initially pale white, but become a yellowish or greenish colour as the specimen ages. When bruised, it turns a greeny blue colour. The mushroom has a very mild to slightly sour taste. It is difficult for novices to differentiate between ceps and bay boletes.
Bay boletes grow primarily in coniferous forests under spruce trees and larches. Sometimes a few specimens can also be found in deciduous forests - generally from September to November.
Beware: Bay boletes cannot be eaten raw! They are poisonous and cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
Chanterelles are also known as gourmet mushrooms because of their tasty flesh and flavour. They are also known as golden chanterelles. Chanterelles are egg-yolk yellow or light yellow in colour. Their cap can reach a diameter of 10-15 cm. The cap is initially dome-shaped and has an involute edge. As the mushroom ages, it flattens out and deepens in the middle. The gills are also an egg-yolk yellow colour and run almost all the way down the stalk.
The chanterelle has a very pleasant, fruity smell reminiscent of apricots. Chanterelles are found both in coniferous and deciduous forests. Carpets of chanterelle mushrooms are a common sight in forest clearings.
Caution: The chanterelle has a dangerous look-alike, the false chanterelle. It is mildly poisonous and ingesting it may result in gastrointestinal distress. Its cap looks deceptively like the chanterelle's. However, the differences can be seen on closer inspection: Its gills end at the stalk and are usually darker than the cap. The cap is considerably thinner. The stalk is thin and hollow.