Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Wild about mushrooms

Laura Langston

How to forage for mushrooms in the fall

Mushrooms begin deteriorating as soon as they’re picked. Washing them speeds up the process (and causes them to retain water and lose flavour). To clean, gently wipe the cap and stem with a paper or cloth towel, or use a mushroom brush.

  • Refrigerate small quantities in a paper bag. Larger hauls should also be refrigerated but placed in a well-ventilated basket lined with dry paper towel and covered with a damp cloth or more paper towel.
  • Depending on the type of mushroom, drying, freezing and even canning are options for longer preservation. Freezing suits meaty, fibrous mushrooms such as buttons, boletes and chanterelles. Drying also suits these varieties, as well as morel, oyster, hedgehog and pine.
  • For more information on preserving and cooking with mushrooms, refer to The Savoury Mushroom by Bill Jones (Raincoast Books) or check out MykoWeb.

Code of conduct

Follow these tips on foraging to get the most from your outdoor adventure:

  • Forage only with an experienced guide. Find one through local mycological societies, which may host trips.
  • Use a reputable field resource (one specific to your region), but don’t rely absolutely on pictures; differences between fungi can be subtle. When in doubt, always leave it behind. 
  • Avoid foraging on industrialized farms, roadsides or lawns where commercial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides might be used. “Mushrooms absorb toxins and pollutants,” explains mycologist Bill Jones. “They’re an excellent indicator of environmental health.”
  • Do not trespass on private property.
  • Bring a sharp knife for cutting, and baskets or bags (paper or cloth) for collecting. Plastic causes mushrooms to sweat and rot.
  • Keep different mushroom types apart (one poisonous mushroom can ruin the batch, so bring plenty of containers).
  • Bring a cloth or soft brush for cleaning as you go.

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