Once again I was invited to mushroom week at Delheim which runs the first week of July. In the Western Cape, the best time to find mushrooms is from June to mid July. The rain is a plus factor when looking for mushrooms. Mushrooms are a fruiting body of a network and grow due to shock i.e. change of seasons, rain and/or temperature change. As mushrooms contain no chlorophyll they can grow in forests with closed canopies.
You need to have a knowledge base to identify edible mushrooms and this post in no ways is meant to educate in what is edible and therefore safe to eat! Books are not a good source of reference. Rather join a group and grow your confidence that way. The common names of mushrooms can be very confusing i.e. slippery jack does not sound like a mushroom one would want to eat, but you can.
Here are some guidelines to mushroom foraging, storing and eating.
- when in doubt, throw it out
- mushrooms should not be soggy
- refrigerate all mushrooms
- all mushrooms are safe to handle
- avoid mushrooms with white gills
- some mushrooms react with wine resulting in a feeling of being poisoned
- you can be allergic to a specific type of mushroom
- little brown mushrooms are difficult to identify and many are poisonous
- 27-33% per 100g of mushrooms are raw protein so you need to cook mushrooms thoroughly to cook out the fibres and break down the protein – cook simply in a little bit of butter/oil and seasoning.
- the only mushroom one can eat raw is the Enoki
- triple check your identification – make a spore print
- remember many safe mushrooms have a poisonous look alike
- look out for bugs, worms and mould – all bad (I had the disgusting experience of looking at a mushroom and getting covered in worms YUCH)
- the mature stage of a mushroom is the most important
- always set one mushroom aside for medical reference in case you get sick
- make a note of the local poison centre number in your area
- if you feel even a little bit uneasy it could be the mushroom – the most deadly mushroom only makes you feel mildly upset
- the sick feeling is a result of protein synthesis
- do not mix various types of mushrooms until you know they are all safe to eat to prevent cross contamination
- only eat a moderate amount
- if you are very young, or very old avoid eating mushrooms as an inability to digest mushrooms exists
- wrap your mushrooms in wax paper to prevent bacterial contamination which results in a sticky feeling to the mushrooms
- wash your hands thoroughly after touching poisonous mushrooms
Do you go mushroom foraging?
As mushrooms are a fungus they can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. Challenged by Nora to come up with something new this year I decided to make a mushroom and chocolate soufflé.
- 250mls milk
- 20g dried mushrooms
- 3 eggs separated
- 85g castor sugar - I used fructose
- 2.5mls vanilla extract
- 40g flour
- 30g cacao powder
- 2 egg whites
- 15g butter, melted
- Rose sugar for coating and dusting – see cooks note below
- Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat the oven to 170° Celsius
- Add the milk and the mushrooms to a sauce pan and over a medium heat bring to the boil
- As soon as the bubbles form, remove from the heat
- Whisk the egg yolks with 25g of the castor sugar and the vanilla, until at a ribbon stage
- Add the flour and mix well
- Strain the milk into the egg mixture
- Mix in the cacao and place back on the heat
- Allow to thicken while stirring continuously
- When thick remove from the heat
- Whisk the 5 egg whites with 60g castor sugar until firm
- Mix ⅓ of the egg whites into the custard base
- Fold in the rest of the egg whites
- Coat your ramekins with melted butter and coat with the rose sugar
- Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins and flatten the top with a palette knife
- Rim the edges with your thumb and sprinkle the top with the rose sugar
- Bake the soufflés for 12 minutes
For conversions click here
Disclosure: I was a guest of Delheim and the first three photographs are of the meal we enjoyed as part of the mushroom foraging experience. I was not requested to write a blog post in exchange for my invitation to this event. This is in line with my blogging policy.
What I blogged: