Global menu

The Green pages

Mushrooms: edible or poisonous?

Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) is an edible mushroom but some people may be intolerant to it
Photo: Charles de Mille-Isles
Armillaria mellea

Humans have been eating mushrooms since the beginning of time. Ceps, Caesar's amanita and Chanterelles have graced tables for centuries and have a choice place in European culinary tradition.

But not everything that grows can be eaten. Many species nourish wild animals but may poison us greedy humans. One must be careful.

How to tell if a mushroom is edible?

There is an old belief that a coin will tarnish on contact with a toxic species, or that any mushroom growing on a tree is edible. Those are nothing less than dangerous superstitions. Nor can one rely on odor or taste: some poisonous mushrooms are delicious, and others that smell bad are good to eat. Only identification by a competent person can safely guide our forks.

Moreover, edible mushrooms can become toxic if they grow in polluted areas like roadsides or on lawns treated with pesticides. The same goes for overripe specimens which may have spoiled.

In general, the best advice is to eat only those mushrooms whose edibility has been well established, to select young specimens, and always cook them first.

Mushrooms are an important food resource, rich in minerals, fibres and vitamins. Each species has its special flavor. It's up to you to discover them.

Add this