A few weeks ago, the carpenter borrowed a seed tray to take home a handful of mushrooms that he’d spotted in the field next to our house, which is currently grazed by cows. Now foraging for wild mushrooms is something that we have been wanting to investigate for a while, and his find prompted us to keep a closer eye on the field in the hope of finding and sampling our own first foraged mushrooms – on our own doorstep!
Yesterday evening, King of the Hill spotted a promising cap just over the fence, and popped over to take a closer look. He came back with the beautiful mushroom above. I admired its clean white-buff cap and beautiful salmon pink gills, and we popped it into the refrigerator; anticipating sharing it for breakfast this morning with an egg.
Of course, wild mushrooms must be treated with a lot of respect, and as the UK has a varied mix of both edible and poisonous fungi, a small number of which can be fatal, we weren’t about to tuck into this feast without confirming its identity first.
Reading around online, our mushroom appeared to perfectly fit the description of the Field Mushroom (Agaricus Campestris), down to its colouring, shape and size, and habitat. I noticed that it can, however, easily be confused with a poisonous mushroom known as the Yellow Stained, or Yellow Stainer (agaricus xanthodermus) which exudes a bright yellow stain when its flesh is bruised or cut, particularly around the base of the stem. I filed this information in my head, happy that our mushroom was a Field Mushroom as it exhibited no trace of yellow.
This morning I washed and began to slice the mushroom carefully, admiring its smooth meaty texture. A small yellow colouring began to creep into the base of the stem where I trimmed it, and alarm bells sounded in my head. Stopping in my tracks, I consulted the computer again and returned to the mushroom; the yellow colour had faded to a dull brown (behaviour common to this poisonous fungus) and a quick sniff filled my nostrils with an earthy iodine-like smell which is also a characteristic of the Yellow Stainer.
It appears that we had certainly found a Yellow Stainer, rather than a Field Mushroom, and if we had consumed it we would have been suffering from all sorts of unpleasant gastrointestinal effects by now. If you are not well versed in mushroom identification then it certainly pays to do a lot of research before eating anything that you find; and if in doubt, don’t eat it. A cautionary tale, indeed!