About Edible Mushrooms

Eating Wild Mushrooms

Edible wild mushrooms can be delicious, interesting and nutritious additions to the diet. Mushroom hunting can also be a fun and healthy outdoor activity that allows a person to get in touch with wild landscapes around them.

But some mushrooms can make you sick or kill you!

Only eat wild mushrooms that have been identified. Only eat mushrooms that are well known and popular as edibles. Experimenting can be dangerous. Stick with a couple, or half a dozen species and learn them well.

There are no simple or general rules for telling poisonous mushrooms from edible ones:

    • Poisonous mushrooms do not turn silver black

    • Poisonous mushrooms don’t turn rice, onions or garlic a particular colour

    • Poisonous mushrooms are all different; no particular colour, texture, odour or taste is a sure sign that mushrooms are either safe or dangerous

    • Poisonous mushrooms grow in many habitats, a mushroom on wood is not always poisonous and mushrooms in meadows are not all edible

    • Poisonous mushrooms might be eaten by animals and some animals are not affected by mushroom poisons. Animals may eat things and die later

    • Mushrooms that peel easily are not necessarily edible

General Safety Considerations

Mushrooms can spoil and cause food poisoning like any food. Old, partially deteriorated and poorly stored mushrooms cause problems.

Mushrooms should only be gathered from pristine habitats. Pesticides and agricultural chemicals, petroleum products and heavy metals may be found in mushrooms growing near roadways or in urban, agricultural or industrial areas. Pet wastes can contaminate mushrooms in parks and along trails.

Mushrooms should always be thoroughly cooked; raw and undercooked mushrooms often cause problems. Some mushrooms such as true morels contain small amounts of toxins when fresh but are safe after cooking.

Eat mushrooms in moderation; eating a large amount of any food can cause problems.

Eating even a good edible mushroom again and again may eventually result in development of an allergic sensitivity. Mushrooms are not easily digested by humans, especially if undercooked, partly because we have no enzymes to digest chitins.

For more details

For much more detailed write-up on the health and safety of marketing wild mushrooms in BC, please see this article by Paul Kroeger