What wild mushrooms are safe to eat?

Dr Noel Arrold of Lin Sun Mushrooms with some commonly grown fungi of the Highlands. Photo: supplied
Dr Noel Arrold of Lin Sun Mushrooms with some commonly grown fungi of the Highlands. Photo: supplied

If you have taken a stroll recently you will notice that there are a lot of fungi popping up across the Southern Highlands.

While this may seem early it is a result of the wetter, but still warm conditions.

For many this may be considered a great opportunity to go foraging, but the big question is "which fungi are safe to eat?"

Have you ever wondered whether you could eat the little mushrooms that dot your lawn, or the ones that seem to feel at home beneath your trees?

There are several varieties of edible mushrooms in Australia, however there are others that are toxic if eaten.

So, how can you tell the difference?

Owner of Li Sun Exotic Mushrooms in Mittagong, Dr Noel Arrold has prviously provided the Southern Highland News and its readers with some easy tips to follow.

Dr Arrold said "the main thing to remember when picking mushrooms in the wild, is to never eat anything with white gills."

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This means that fly agaric, commonly identified by their red cap with white spots, should not be consume.

In fact, even though the toadstool looks like something from a fairy tale it contains a neurotoxin that is potentially deadly.

Another white-gilled, poisonous fungi to be aware of is the death cap.

According to the Australian National Herbarium, the death cap is responsible for the majority of the world's mushroom poisoning deaths. They are characterised by their smooth cap, which is usually yellow to olive green, white stem and stump like base.

The Shaggy Ink Cap is another to be cautious with. It is edible when young, before cap turns dark.

It's not all doom and gloom for budding foragers, recent rainfall has made growing conditions perfect in the area and non-toxic mushrooms are aplenty.

Pine caps and slippery jacks are the most common edible mushrooms in Australia according to the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG).

Pine caps, also known as saffron milk caps, are bright orange in colour and have milky sap when they are cut. They have a nutty flavour and typically grow under pine trees, which gives them their name.

Slippery jacks are described by the ANBG as having a brown cap that is slimy in wet conditions, and a yellow underside which is spongy in appearance. They have a mild flavour, and are featured in many soup and pasta recipes.

The golden rule when it comes to mushroom foraging? If in doubt, throw it out.

Experts warn that there is no guaranteed safe way to make a poisonous mushroom safe, cooking is unlikely to alter the toxicity at all.

If you're unsure whether you've eaten a poisonous mushroom, or are feeling ill after eating wild mushrooms, call the NSW Poison Information Centre on 13 11 26.

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This story Fancy some fungi? first appeared on Southern Highland News.