You might fancy foraging, but when it comes to wild fungi, how do you tell if a mushroom represents death or dinner? Join a series of courses designed to demystify the wonderful world of fungi at Wilderness Wood in East Sussex.
If times are tight and you want to eat healthily, raiding nature's larder can be a great idea. In his push to promote a veg-based diet chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends the beefsteak mushroom as a good alternative to meat, and our neighbours on the continent hvae been feasting this way for years. But anyone fancying a fungal fry-up needs to know what they’re looking for, as some varieties are fatal if eaten, while others cause sickness and severe cramps - and toxins in some of the most dangerous mushrooms tend not to be destroyed by cooking.
Up to 20,000 different species of fungi grow in the UK; of these 50 or so are edible, and 50 are known to be poisonous. So before you even think about eating anything you find, ask an expert.
Wilderness Wood founder Anne Yarrow has spent the last 30 years getting to know the fungal residents of this award-winning 62-acre ancient Sussex woodland, and for 15 years has been leading fungi tours around the wood.
The courses, which run from 90 minutes to 1 day, are designed for everyone from beginners wanting to understand the basics of mushroom foraging to enthusiasts keen to learn more details about the world of woodland mycology. Anne emphasizes safety and collection strategies, with guests picking mushrooms to take home.
Anne says “When people ask me which fungi are edible I often joke that you can eat them all, but some of them only once! It’s great to see the growing interest in natural wild food, but you do need to know what to look for. Join me on some forays round the wood to find the best ones to eat – and learn which ones to avoid!"
Get more information about the Autumn schedule of fungi hunts and courses at Wilderness Wood.
Published 25th September 2012
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