Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Savory Wild Mushroom

I recently found this great little book at a used bookstore.  The Savory Wild Mushroom by Margaret McKenny, revised and enlarged by Daniel E. Stuntz covers all sorts of edible wild mushrooms. 

“The region covered are primarily known as the Pacific Northwest, comprising northern Oregon, Washington, northern Idaho, and southern British Columbia.  About 11 percent of the species included occur only in this region, or only rarely outside of it. The remaining 89 percent one could expect to find in many other areas, and thus the handbook should be useful in much of Nor America beyond the northwestern states.”

156 species are covered in this book. Each species is illustrated in black and white. Genera are arranged in groups corresponding to the general type of fruiting body (for example, boletes, gilled mushrooms, puffballs, and so forth)”

 Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Boletes
  • Chanterelles
  • Gilled mushrooms
  • Puffballs
  • Polypores
  • Spine fungi
  • Coral fungi
  • Jelly fungi
  • Cup fungi, helvellas, morels
  • Mushroom poisons
  • The Hunt, the Quarry, and the Skillet
    • This is a fun chapter on various ways of cooking and eating wild mushrooms. The author talks about spreads and dips, eating them raw, and why some mushrooms should always be cooked. It’s done in a homey casual way that I found readable and interesting.
  • Selected wild mushroom recipes
    • Definitely a major plus. She goes way beyond sautéed with butter.  Stuffed Morels, chanterelles with eggplant, and tornadoes woodland are just a few recipes mentioned.
    • My personal favorite is “A Hunter’s Toast”.  “On finding any edible mushrooms (except morels and elfin saddles) collect a few dry sticks and fire them. Split a green stick (alder or willow) at one end. Put the mushroom in the cleft, hold it over the fire until tender, season with butter. Eat from the stick. (Charles McIlvain)
  • Bibliography
  • index
For the collector the following information is available on each species discussed:

  • Name, both scientific and common
  • Color and description
    • Cap
    • Gills
    • stem
  • When and where found
  • remarks


Do NOT eat any wild mushroom unless you can
POSITIVELY identify it. 

Most edible wild mushrooms have a
poisonous counterpart that can be easily confused. 
If you are not sure, do not put it in your mouth. 

Some may only make you ill, but one bite of others means death.

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