Several weeks ago, while scouting for firewood in the woods, I ran across some coral mushrooms. I had no recollection of having seen them before and their unique appearance really caught my attention. So, I took some pictures and decided to investigate, thinking, “Surely, this is a mushroom I can identify beyond a shadow of a doubt.” It didn’t take long to identify them and to learn that, though there are several different kinds of coral mushrooms, the great majority are edible. “Cool!” I thought.
If you scavenge for mushrooms you better be SURE they’re safe!
There are some mushrooms out there that are so toxic that a single bite can kill a person. So, it’s very important to be careful. I once asked a local mushroom person for tutoring, but to no avail. So, how to proceed?
- First, I wanted to find a very distinctive mushroom, like this, one which is hard to confuse with a deadly species. I researched and found that the only really dangerous coral mushrooms aren’t even found in my part of the world, and they are bright red in color. Immediately below you’ll find a link to the article which best helped me to give this one a go.
- Next, having determined that these mushrooms were almost certainly safe, we picked a few, cooked up a bit and tried… a bite or two. We left it at that until the next day. If there was any chance they might cause digestive upset, we wanted to be safe and eat very little. Remember, I had already determined that there was no similar mushroom on our continent, which was really dangerous. (Also, I took many photos of the mushrooms, in the wild, to compare with images in my mushroom guide book.)
- Once we went more than 12 hours with no digestive upset at all, we picked more and included them in a meal. Wallah! We had added a new item to our inventory of foragable foods!
Some sources say that coral mushrooms don’t taste particularly good. We’ve sauteed them and “eaten them straight.” I liked them fine, but the ladies in the household said they’d prefer to combine them with other foods. We’ve added them to soups and stews with great success. Additionally, we’ve dehydrated them, storing them in jars for future use.