The Best Wild Mushrooms to Forage for Beginners

wild mushrooms

Ah, there are few things that are as satisfying as finding a rare species of a mushroom out in the wild. In a world that is as confusing as ours, with different choices to make all of the time. It can cause anxiety inside the mind and cause one to feel eternally confused. An oft-prescribed method to clear that confusion is to cause a reset within the mind. In order to cause this reset, to clear the palette of the mind, one has to return to the simple things. An unfettered smile, a song from your childhood or a walk through nature. These are things that are simple because they exist without contradiction. When you focus more on the ‘walk through nature’, our topic starts to emerge. Mushrooms are often ignored by nature enthusiasts for their more prominent cousins, plants.

Recently, mushrooms have been gaining in the world. As younger millennials struggle to find a hobby that doesn’t involve them tootling away at their phones, Mushroom foraging starts to appear as a very viable and tame habit to play with. It is one of the best ways to spend your Sunday outside in. It is in fact, almost like a form of therapy. People can be loud and noisy and having extended forms of conversations with them usually ends up with some drama. On the other hand, plucking a docile mushroom out in the wild is one of the simpler things in life, full of pleasure.

Of course, that’s not always the truth. A lot of wild mushrooms are wildly poisonous as well. The worst part is that they can look quite innocuous as well. It is only when you consume them or even touch them in some cases that the reality of the mushrooms is actually put on display. What creates even more confusion is the fact that two kinds of mushrooms could look exactly the same. One could be insanely poisonous and the other could be completely safe and edible.

So, the world of mushrooms can often be kind of treacherous in many ways. There are some mushrooms that are the best to forage for due to a variety of reasons. The main one being the fact that a lot of these mushrooms are easy to spot in the wilderness. For beginners who are yet to develop an eye for spotting a mushroom out in the wild, these mushrooms make the learning much less steep. It is also imperative to develop an understanding of how mushroom grow before you can start foraging them. This article can help you get a little bit of context in terms of mushroom growth.

If you’re not the type who likes to go around foraging for mushrooms in the wild and still possess some passion for mushrooms, mushroom grow kits have made the process of becoming a mushroom farmer much easier than before. All you have to is to cut the grow kit at the indicated spot, mist it and wait a few days for the fruit to literally arrive. If you have no experience with growing mushrooms, there is a good chance that you will be quite surprised by the sheer speed at which mushrooms are able to grow. Check out of our blue oyster grow kits, which are known for the speed at which they grow and are considered to be a good first step for amateur mushroom growers as well.

pink oyster growing kit

Giant Puffballs

giant puffballs

One of the safest mushrooms in the world. The giant puffball is quite reminiscent of its name. It is innocent to its core. The giant puffball can grow into a white ball which can be a foot wide. On top of that, the mushroom is incredibly tasty to eat as well. Do not simply fry with some butter though, because the texture can become quite problematic to navigate for the eater. A great way of consuming giant puffballs is to just fry them simply and then cover them up with some beaten egg and then another layer of breadcrumbs. Put them back into the fryer until they reach the perfect golden point. This gives you a great texture to go with the great taste.

Hedgehog Fungus

hedgehog fungus

One’s got to give the people who name these mushrooms some credit, they do come up with some creative names. There are spines under the white caps of the mushrooms and seeing a single picture should make you more than confident of spotting this species in the wild as well. Make sure to not remove the spines as well when you are harvesting the mushrooms. The spines will then grow more mushrooms in the place of the mushrooms you just harvested and there is not much culinary value that you can extract from them anyway.
When it comes to the taste of the hedgehog fungus, there is very little that tastes similar to it. The flavor does have the trademark meat-esque feel to it, but it doesn’t just end there. The flavor can also be described as nutty, activating the sweeter side of the mouth. When biting down on it, you will feel that the mushroom is definitely a lot more ‘firmer’ than other mushrooms, so feel free to cook it for a little bit longer so it softens up a bit. All in all, it is worth putting in all the mushroom recipes that you see on the internet.

Beefsteak Fungus

beefsteak fungus

If you have ever seen a mushroom that resembles a massive tongue extending itself, there is a very good chance that it was the beefsteak fungus (also known as the ox tongue fungus). The coloring is such that it resembles a piece of steak as well. The fun doesn’t just end there. When you cut it, a thin red liquid also emerges, making it spookily similar to steak.

For amateur foragers, the good news is in the fact that there is nothing else quite like it that looks similar to it. So, if you see something that matches this description, you can be sure that it is indeed the beefsteak fungus. Another very important tip is to touch the mushroom, if you feel a touch of moistness, then it is definitely this mushroom.

Dryad’s Saddle

dryad's saddle

This mushroom exists where the death of trees exists. That is just a very weird way of saying that the mushroom grows from dead standing wood, plenty of which you can find in forests. Perhaps the easiest mushroom for foragers to find, the mushroom’s cap can grow to nearly over 3 feet in diameter, making it one of the largest capped mushrooms that you can find. The stem of the mushroom is usually quite strong and one of the best ways to identify it is indeed through the stem. Most other mushrooms that look similar to this usually are quite attached to the tree itself.

The mushroom is usually seen during the early summer, all through to August, a time that is like the offseason for other mushrooms. Perhaps the single worst part about the mushroom is the fact that it is not much of a superstar for the kitchen. They can get quite hard and woody so there is not much point in frying them. However, they can play the role of a proud, first find for a novice mushroom forager and that makes it valuable enough.

Wood Ears

wood ears

For the umpteenth time, the name is indeed quite indicative of the physical description of the mushroom. Wood ears, quite literally, look like ears on wood. The one important point is to make sure that you know what elder trees are, as wood ears grow exclusively dead elder trees. The other plus point of wood ears is that they grow all throughout the year, so they are always around. Any season, any month, you can expect the elder trees to be around.

When it comes to eating them, they are one of the bedrocks of oriental cuisine. They are also available quite widely in markets as well, but the sheer thrill of finding them in the woods is something else. You will have to rehydrate them in liquids like beef stock or chicken stock. If you have a bigger budget, wine can be an excellent way to class up your dinner as well as rehydrate your mushrooms. It is important to note that woods ears don’t fit that well into western foods, so there is a very good chance that you might not like them at all.

So, these are some of the best mushrooms that you can forage for. They might even be called different things in your country so make sure to brush up on that before you decide to forage for mushrooms in the wood. Overall, it’s a great habit that can bring balance and joy in your life.