"When in doubt, throw it out!"
This phrase is often regarded as the most important advice any potential shroomer can take into consideration. In my opinion, this distinction is well deserved. One can never be too careful when foraging for your own mushrooms . . . here are some interpretations of the rule to consider before you toss that newest find into the frying pan:
- Unlike hobbies like, say blogging, a mistake in the identification of a mushroom isn't a situation that can be corrected by a simple backspace or edit. A mistake in the mushroom hunting hobby can range from a night over the toilet, to serious hospitalization, or even death - hence the motto!
- As always, you should be aware of any potential look-alikes and be COMPLETELY sure that the mushroom you have is not one of them. (On the rare occasion that you happen across an edible look alike, it is still a good idea to know what you are getting into.)
- Be careful when adding buttons to your basket. Very young specimens may not have fully developed all the typical identifying characteristics of their species.
- Much like my last tip, very old species can be a hazard as well. Not only can many of their identifying characteristics be faded or completely missing (rings, veil specks on the cap, etc.) but the specimen can be infested with bugs! I don't know about you, but getting a mouthful of bugs when I'm expecting sweet mushroom bliss would ruin my day.
- Be on constant alert for signs of an inappropriate environments while foraging. These include but are not limited to areas of industrial/city runoff, treated fields/crops, and areas within ~100ft of a major highway. Just like you wouldn't by tomatoes covered in pesticide More on this later.*