Warning and Disclaimer
Some mushrooms are poisonous. The simple rule to observe when picking mushrooms is:
You do not want to wind up in hospital due to misidentification.
The photographs and written information on this website may not be enough for a beginner to make confident decisions about the toxicity of a particular mushroom.
If you are a novice, it is strongly advised that you seek out an experienced mushroomer and obtain in-the-field guidance.
Every pictured mushroom which is captioned as EDIBLE, was actually eaten by the authors, however the authors and owners of this site take no responsibility for any misidentification or improper food handling which results in any adverse effects to the reader.
Mushrooming is an activity which cannot be picked up just from a textbook. In Latvia the skills of identifying and preparing mushrooms are handed down from generation to generation, but in Australia, as the original Latvian immigrants pass away, this knowledge is disappearing, and few from the second or third generations have any desire to enter the forest and get their hands dirty.
Australia fungi illustrated / I R McCann - Vermont, Vic., Macdown Productions, 2003
Edible and poisonous mushrooms of the world / Ian R Hall et al. - Portland, Timber Press, 2003
A field guide to Australian fungi / Bruce Fuhrer - Melbourne, Bloomings Books, 2005
The great encyclopedia of mushrooms - Cologne, Konemann, 1999
The practical mushroom encyclopedia / Peter Jordan, Steven Wheeler - London, Hermes House, 2003
Lactarius delicious (Safron milk cap)
Grows under pines and appears in autumn, particularly after heavy rain.
This mushroom is a favorite of Latvian immigrants, who enjoyed its wonderful spicy nutty flavor back in Latvia.
Its bright orange pink appearance makes it easy to recognize. It has a hollow stem, which is loved by slugs and earwigs, so take that into account when collecting.
Bruised areas quickly develop a green stain.
Suillus luteus. Alternative Latin name Boletus luteus (Slippery Jack)
Also grows under pines and appears in late autumn.
This chestnut-brown mushroom has a slimy wet appearance
The cap is convex when young (as in the specimens shown) and flattens out in maturity.
The sponge-like pores are pale yellow when young, darkening in maturity.
This is a very tasty mushroom. The slimy surface needs to be cleaned thoroughly and check for bugs.
Amanita muscaria (Fly agaric)
Very beautiful but poisonous. Do not eat!
Thrives under pines and oaks.
This mushroom has been used to kill flies. Dried pieces can be placed in a bowl of milk and any flies that dine on them become intoxicated and either die from the poison or fall into the milk and drown.
Fly agarics sometimes loose their spots.
More mushrooms (Identification and toxicity to follow)
Preparation of mushrooms
All mushrooms should be prepared as soon as you return from the forest, otherwise they will spoil or be eaten by grubs.
Spoiled mushrooms develop strong toxins making even the most delicious mushroom unusable; so a hostess should be very careful when purchasing mushrooms at the market. Good mushrooms should be just picked, young, firm, dry, free of grubs...
After returning from the market or forest, mushrooms should be processed thus: First remove any leaves or pine needles and discard any mushrooms infested with grubs. Then carefully wash them twice. Mushrooms such as boletes, field mushrooms and others which have sponge-like spore carriers similar to boletes, can be fried, cooked and stewed straight away.
It is recommended that other mushrooms whose spore carriers are gill-like (for example the saffron milk cap) are boiled in water for about five minutes. Only after such initial cooking can this group of mushrooms be fried, sauteed or prepared in other ways. It should be stated that mushrooms must not be heated for too long (no longer than 10 minutes) for otherwise they will become firmer and harder to chew. For some mushrooms it is recommended that the hostess remove the skin, for others the spore carrier. The skin can be removed from Slippery Jacks so that they are no longer slimy. The spore carrier is only removed if a mushroom is rather large or old.
Regarding mushroom stems. They are used with the cap if the mushroom is young, or separately in mushroom broth if they are hard and old.Recipes
For large mushrooms cut the cap from the stalk and cut the stalk into finger thick slices. Boil for 5 -10 minutes in salt water. Dry the mushrooms with a clean cloth then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dip the mushrooms in partially whipped eggs, then roll in bread crumbs, dip in the egg again and roll once more in bread crumbs. Place in heated butter on a pan and cook both sides until golden brown.
Finally place the fried mushrooms on a baking dish, decorate with greens and serve with dry potatoes, melted butter or sour cream sauce.
Combine the melted fat or butter with the flour on a pan and stir until golden brown. While stirring slowly add liquid (broth or water) to the browned flour until fully mixed. If necessary strain the sauce then add salt and sour cream.
Various mushrooms can be used in the sauce - saffron milk caps, boletes, chantarelles, etc. The mushrooms, bacon and onion are chopped into small cubes and fried, mixing in the flour. Continue frying, then add liquid and cook. Finally add in the sour cream.
Mushroom sauce can be served with meat or vegetarian dishes.
and Recipes translated from the Latvian classic text: