Written By: Leanne Cordingley
Mushroom season is here. Hurrah! I’m not sure if it’s normal, but the floors up here seem to be carpetted with them too, hurrah! We’ve seen over 55 different types so far. I’m thinking of starting a new section on here devoted to my little friends, so if I can work out how to do it I’ll be posting all the different types we find plus notes on edibility, habitat etc. But obviously don’t believe anything I say, we use three different books, which though generally a good mix, cross referenced say different things sometimes and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s poisoning.
The books we are currently using are the Collins Gems “Mushrooms”, which is great, has good, clear pictures, pretty much all the common things you are likely to see and references similar mushrooms things can be confused with, then “Mushrooms” by Roger Phillips, which is really comprehensive, but maybe a little too much so when you’re just starting out, it’s best to look for things in the little book first and then check there’s nothing else simlar in this one. We also have the River Cottage “Mushrooms” (all these people clearly spend days trying to think of original titles), which is great for all the edible species, has recipes and the author John Wright has a few amusing mushroom stories to tell which makes it a livelier read than most of the guides.
It’s been a few days now since we dared to eat something we found and we’re both still alive, so let us be your guinea pigs, puff balls are indeed safe to eat. We spent a couple of days on a campsite in Kintyre at Point Sands campsite and the morning after we’d arrived realised we were surrounded by little puffball mushrooms, so picked maybe a couple of dozen, peeled off their skins, fried them in some butter and garlic and had them with pasta for our tea. How exciting! To be honest they weren’t the most amazingly tasty mushrooms I’ve ever had, just maybe not as strong mushroomy taste and slighly fluffy texture, but they were ok, and definitely good for a cheap meal.If you fancy trying them you just need to make sure they are all completely white all the way through. The name puffball comes form the fact that as they mature their insides turns into dark spores which are then puffed out of the top of the mushroom. They don’t do any harm to you in this state, it just doesn’t taste nice.
There was also maybe five or so rings of what looked like fairy ring mushrooms on the same field, but we weren’t sure and were too scared to try them. But anyone who could identify them could pick themselves a real feast at that campsite. It’s also an incredibly beautiful place to stay, right on the beach, you just walk out of your tent onto the white sandy beach, which is really long and looks out west to Islay and Jura, providing one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen. We took our table and chairs out to the water’s edge and had cheese and biscuits and a bottle (oops two bottles) of red wine to watch it.
Among the other interesting things we have found so far were the Fly Agaric, hundreds of them in the woods on the walk back from the Glenashadale Falls in Arran. Due to their hallucenogenic properties they’re often said to be poisonous, they are not deadly though, they’ll just make you a bit sick then you’ll be fine apparently, I still don’t fancy it. I read they affect your judgement, so if for example you tried to jump over a small branch you would really leap high in the air to clear it. They have the same effect on deer, who love eating them and then leap around the forrest like nutters. I find that pretty hillarious, maybe we should all take guidance from the deer and go out into the woods and have fun leaping around.
I saw a clump of chantarelle mushrooms, but didn’t pick them. It was pretty obvious what they were too, so not sure why I decided not to, bet they would have been nicer in my pasta than those blinking puffballs.
Andy spotted a Destroying Angel, a beautiful, delicate but deadly poisonous mushroom. Luckily it’s pretty unmistakeable, however I think it may be the type that poisoned the Horse Whisperer author recently. It causes liver failure and survival rates are pretty low, by the time the symptoms start most of the irreversible damage has been done. Scary.
We’ve also seen a shaggy ink cap, blushers, amethyst deceivers, egghead mottlegills ( I love the names!) and lots more. Here’s a few more photos and watch out for the new mushroom section coming soon.