How to Pick Mushrooms in the Forest: Analysis of Popular Myths and Tips

Let’s find out where to look for mushrooms, how to put them in a basket, and whether to cut the stalk.

The right way to pick mushrooms – cut or twist

Lovers of mushrooms in the woods often argue about the correct way to pick mushrooms – to cut them with a knife or to twist the stalk. There is a popular myth that mushrooms must be cut, otherwise, you can damage the mushroom’s roots and the next year the mushroom will not grow in that place.

In fact, the mushroom doesn’t really care whether you cut it off or pluck it. It has no effect on its growth. The root of the mushroom – the mycelium – is under the ground, and it is from the mycelium that the mushroom grows. So if you cut or pluck the mushroom above the ground without digging it up too deep, it will not harm the mycelium in any way.

Cutting or picking mushrooms is just a question of convenience for the mushroom maker. Pale mushrooms are commonly plucked because they have a delicious stalk and it is desirable to keep them intact. But plate mushrooms are easier to cut in order to check the cut for worminess.

Where and when to look for mushrooms

In wet and rainy weather, it is advisable to look for mushrooms in dry places such as hills, sunny glades, and forest edges. But in dry and hot weather, on the contrary, mushrooms grow in abundance in damp places, in the shade of trees, in moss, and in dense grass.

We recommend you start mushroom picking before sunrise or on cloudy days. This makes the mushrooms much more noticeable. Once you have found a mushroom, sit down next to it and look around. Most mushrooms grow in colonies next to each other. Do not be lazy to look in the tall grass or under fallen branches.

Mushroom picker’s tips for successful mushroom picking

  • Never pick unfamiliar mushrooms if you don’t know for sure if they are edible.
  • If the mushroom has an unpleasant smell – do not take it.
  • After collecting the mushrooms, place them in the basket with their heads down. This way they will be less damaged during transportation.
  • Do not remove the moss cover right away – it makes the mushroom store better. It is better to clean the moss right before cooking the mushroom.
  • Fragile and brittle mushrooms such as dumplings and boletuses should be stored separately from heavier, larger mushrooms.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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