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Wilderness Tips: Mushroom and Berry Picking and Eating

November 21, 2014
Garden Fungi

There are many attractions to spending time outdoors in the fall. The chance to pick fruit, vegetables, and other edible plant-based products is a fun activity which is easiest to enjoy during harvest season. Though orchards and pumpkin patches are common destinations for fruit and vegetable picking, a campsite can be just as fertile of ground! Indeed, part of the thrill of camping in the midst of nature can be reaping the harvests of the surrounding area.

However, caution must be exercised when picking in the wild—especially with mushrooms and berries. Here are some tips on how to pick and identify the right ones:

-Consider the context of a mushroom before anything. What is the mushroom you are looking at growing on? What types of trees are nearby? Fungi can often be identified by the trees which surround them. Note the surface and surroundings of the mushroom growth.

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Blackberries often are accompanied by gorgeous blossoms, such as this one.

 

-Observe the mushroom’s color. Though colors sometimes change as these age and eventually die, this is one indicator of which type of mushroom you are dealing with.

-Consult a detailed reference source in order to pinpoint the type of mushroom you have picked, taking into account all available data. Here are some other factors in a mushroom’s makeup to look for: ornamentation, the presence of cobweb-like tissue, spores on the surface, gills, the presence of a stalk, smell, ability to bruise when crushed, and more.

-Berries are a great fruit to pick in the wilderness (or anywhere)! Blackberries are usually a safe bet, as they are well known to be safe to eat and grow like weeds in many regions. However, there are still some subtleties to choosing the right ones.

wildberries

When picking berries, look for indicators of good or poor quality on the fruit.

 

-Look for blackberries that are fully ripe. Immature blackberries are often red in hue, but luscious black specimens are the ones you should be looking for.

-Avoid any blackberries with mold growing on them or unusual bruises and markings. Among other things, such berries may have already been nibbled at by other animals, damaged by the influence of some form of chemical, or simply spoiled by sitting on the plant for too long.

-When you have picked the berries, you will want to either eat them right away, cook them into a recipe quickly, or else store them. If you are storing them, place them in a storage container in a refrigerator or freezer, with the container uncovered to avoid trapping moisture inside.

Fall is prime outdoor season—get your outdoor apparel at Royal Robbins!

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