Beginner Mushroom Foraging

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    I have been curious and following mushroom discussions for a few years now. Most of what I have learned is from seminars at Mother Earth News Fairs. They have been excellent for me and piqued my interest 100 fold.
    My problem is that I don’t feel like I know enough to trust foraging on my own.

    I have found what I am almost certain are Chicken of the woods, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Oyster, Morel, Reishi, and probably a few others… I just don’t trust eating them.

    What is the best path for beginners to safely forage?


    Welcome to the wonderful world of foraging! Seems like you’ve found some great perspective edibles so far!

    I believe the most important is to get a good field guide. I’m a resident of upstate NY and like Baroni’s Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, but there are many different guides out there with great descriptions. I also lean on Reddit a lot for second opinions on IDs I’m not sure about (r/foraging and r/Mycology are great!). When you’re asking for advice on the internet, proceed with caution. Many community members know what they’re doing, but in the mushroom world, there are so many look-alikes! Taking detailed photos of the cap, gills/pores, and stem are helpful ways to ID a mushroom (or help someone else ID it for you). Doing a spore print is also a great way to deduce what kind it could be.

    Another important thing to recognize is that some wild mushrooms might be classified as edible, but every person is different, so taste a small amount of an edible mushroom and wait several hours to see if your body reacts to it before diving in.

    From my experience, Chicken of the Woods has very few look-alikes, so that might be a great introduction for you! Plus, it’s very tasty and really does taste like chicken. Pay attention to what tree it’s growing on though – it’s been known to cause an upset stomach if the fruiting body was growing on conifers.

    Best of luck, and happy foraging!


    Join your local mushroom society.
    I am sure they do field trips. Learning from someone with experience is a great way to gain confidence. I learned from a commercial forager of chanterelles, morels,cauliflower, and matsutake in the cascades of Oregon.
    After a season of roaming the rain soaked slopes all day everytime i close my eyes to sleep I would see these mushrooms. That gave me enough confidence to pick on my own. It has become a Life-long love and a career.

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