Mushroom picking

Mushroom picking

Mushrooms are renewable resources. The use of appropriate harvesting techniques ensures multiple harvests over time.

It is not difficult to pick mushrooms. A knife (see our models: standard mushroom knife and curved mushroom knife) and a suitable container are enough. It is recommended to use wicker or rattan baskets to let air circulate around the mushrooms, which can become very wet once picked and molds can then develop on their surface. Do not use any plastic bag as they accelerate the decomposition of the fungus and some species become toxic in contact with this material: edible can thus become unfit for consumption.

Always place in the shade your baskets full of mushrooms when you take a break, and protect them always from rain. For example you can cover your basket with fern leaves to protect your mushrooms.

Be careful not to disturb the forest floor around mushrooms. The mycelium growing under the surface could be damaged. Harvesters should always avoid picking all mushrooms at one place. A careful examination will tell you that some mushrooms may be overripe because too old (in this case, they are mostly indigestible and especially riddled with small worms), or too small. Pick only healthy specimens.

First, turn on the fungus itself to separate it from its mycelium (filaments): it is best not to use the knife to cut the fungus at the base (for species that are gathered close to the foot like the mushrooms), as part of the foot you leave on site will rot and this decomposition may win the mycelium (all underground filaments - see our blog post on the mycelium), slowing or stopping their growth . Never either tear the fungus from the soil by pulling it by hand, the mycelium could pull together. It is essential to protect the mycelium by covering the soil with mosses or dry leaves to prevent drying out and allow him to continue to live and produce fungi the following years. Do not leave open hole over the mycelium: it is like leaving an open wound on your skin, bacteria may develop. Also, keep the entire foot of the fungus: it will help to make its determination.

What is it the knife mushrooms for, will you say? Well on one hand, the blade enables you to excavate the soil under the mushroom foot: that way you get it ready to be taken. On the other hand, the blade is used to clean the mushroom on the field soon after its collection, and to avoid soiling the rest of your harvest: the blade can cut the earthy part of the foot, the damaged parts (attacked by worms, slugs, and rodents as well as moldy or too old parts) and porcini spores when they are already old, thereby leaving them on site will be useful for the species multiplication. The reverse serrated blade (when present as on our mushroom knife models) enables you to remove any earth and stones deposits without removing the mushroom part itself. Finally the brush will clean the mushroom cap without damaging it, by removing twigs, needles and other plant debris stuck on it. Always be sensitive and keep dry your own mushrooms whenever possible.

Avoid as much water as possible! It may spoil the mushrooms consistency and complicate their cooking: this is particularly spectacular in porcini that become real elastic sponge. Some woody and hollow species like the trumpet or the chanterelle (with soil accumulation, plant debris or small invertebrates inside), however, require quickly wet cleaning under flushing tap or in a large amount of cold water with vinegar, and then to be dried immediately in a cloth. Finally, do not remove stems from mushrooms (unless they are really too tough), but only the fiber end.

It is essential not to pick contaminated mushrooms. Toxic heavy metals and other contaminants can accumulate in mushrooms (lead, cadmium, copper, thallium). Fungi can also synthesize even more toxic compounds, for example methyl-mercury from the mercury. Contaminated mushroom consumption may have serious adverse health effects. You should avoid places where the soil is naturally marked by high levels of heavy metals: in the vicinity of mining and exploration operations, along road corridors and dust areas of old and existing gravel roads, ditches bordering agricultural areas where fertilizers, defoliants, herbicides and pesticides get accumulated, infrastructure nearby locality. Do not collect such mushroom that can grow in the middle of a roundabout (sometimes morels grow in the spring, following fresh topsoil being brought on the embankment). Also see our blog post about the mushroom radioactivity.

Our dried mushrooms are harvested in protected natural areas, mainly in Catalan country, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees mountains, with the exception of our dried morels that come from the vast Canadian forests (Northwest Territories). These mushrooms are wild and there are picked by hand. Our dried mushrooms have not been cultivated and they have not undergone any chemical treatment before and after harvest.


Many wild mushrooms are poisonous and even fatal. You must be extra careful to distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous lookalikes. Some species of poisonous lookalikes grow alongside edible mushrooms in the same habitat. If you have no special skills, it is risky to embark on mushroom picking.

The mushroom determination may sound simple in some cases, such as to determine a fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), but mostly determination requires a certain rigor. The mushroom color and shape will be based on its age, ambient humidity, sunshine, etc. Never limit yourself to these two criteria. The slat shape or pores (for polypores), the place of collection, shape and consistency of the foot, and many other criteria come into play when determining. In any case, if you're not 100% sure, do not consume your harvest without having sought the advice of a trusted expert.

When you are new to mushroom picking, working alongside experienced mushroom pickers who will show you the different forms that can take edible mushrooms and their poisonous look-alikes, and you will learn gradually how to perfectly distinguish them. As a precaution, always have your collection reviewed by a competent pharmacist in mycology (the new generations of pharmacists are not trained in mushroom recognition) or a mycologist from a mycological society in your area (a permanence can be organized where to get your pick being identified). Never mix in the same  basket mushrooms which you are not sure whether they are of the same species and perfectly edible. Otherwise the entire contents of your basket should be discarded in case of presence of a toxic lookalike. See in this section of our blog on poisoning by mushrooms.

When do you have the best chance to find mushrooms? The two most influential factors on the mushroom growth are temperature and humidity. Mushrooms consist of about 90% water, so they need significant moisture conditions to grow well.

Mushrooms are generally found throughout the year but each species grows in a period of its own. Some have a wide temporal range over several seasons while others, very sensitive, grow during relatively short time intervals.

In the spring, pick morels, mycenae and coprins in the Jura (sometimes while still snow).

In the summer, one will find boletus, russules, amanitas and chanterelles, especially after rain.

In autumn, times of plenty and therefore preferred season for mycophagous, trumpets and porcini make the feast of all. Autumn is still the favorite season for mushroom picking and the opportunity for a good family day through a forest in fall colors.

In winter, the first frost generally put an end to the season but some late mycological species remain.

Climate change occurring over the last 20 years influences collections periods as well as mushrooms ranges. Also, rare species at the limit of their range sometimes become more frequent.

Find a good spot for mushrooms is not always easy. Indeed, the growth of mushrooms requires adequate and essential conditions that can be divided into three categories:

• Weather conditions: humidity, temperature, exposure to wind or sun, all over given periods, sometimes very short.

• Ground conditions: type of substrate (clay soil, loam, sand, limestone), acidity or alkalinity of the soil, humus type, etc.

• Biotic conditions: that is to say related to the presence of other species, such as animals, plants (for mycorrhizal fungi) or other fungi.

There is no point to ask pickers you will encounter in the forest, their basket full of mushrooms, for their good mushroom place. A good mushroom place never reveals and remains mostly a family secret!

To find a good mushroom place, know how to adapt your place of prospecting according to the current season:

• In the spring, the beginning of mushroom season, we will meet very few species in the dense forests. Rather to find in the woods, especially under the poplars and pines in sandy terrain. We especially meet with saprophytes (that is to say, that grow on trees and dead leaves. They thus actively participate in the formation of humus).

• In summer, deciduous forests mainly dominated by oaks and beeches are excellent places to harvest. It will include many mycorrhizal species (that is to say that the association between symbiotic fungi and tree roots - see our blog post on the mycelium).

• In the fall, mushrooms will be found everywhere and in good quantity as well in dense forests than in open areas (edges, meadows, etc.), but especially under conifers they abound. At this time of year, you will find mainly saprophytes (for memory decay fungi from plant debris).

If you are just starting to pick mushrooms, the right method to adopt is:

• The presence of bad mushrooms (inedible) is an encouraging sign that the temperature and humidity are good, at least for the development of mushrooms.

• Change location if you do not find anything, do not spend three hours at the same place if you did not see any mushroom.

• Try different habitats: under hardwood, softwood as under a mixed forest, in a meadow near the forest, etc.

• If a place seems pretty good for the development of mushrooms but you did not find anything, come back the following week because sometimes intuitions prove pay!

• If you find a good mushroom but it does not seem to proliferate, take your time, and carefully walk slightly, bent yourself and walk away in spiral from there. It is a paid process when there are trumpets for example.

• Do not hesitate to sink into the little copse, you will sometimes be surprised at what is there. Indeed, most people walk between trees and do not engage in the more intricate parts, which is wrong.

• By cons, if you do this, beware of ticks which are particularly fond of this kind of places and inspect yourself in the evening when you get home (please buy a tick-corkscrew at your chemist’s - see our article blog on ticks and Lyme disease).

• A final tip that I personally use, on condition that it not too dark under the canopy: I wear my glaciar glasses, and polarization glasses highlighted the contrasting colors in the undergrowth, this allows me to identify mushrooms to tens of meters around including porcini.

And as already noted above, avoid polluted or enriched in nitrates places. Such conditions often make them indigestible and mushrooms can make you very sick.

Regarding the regulations on mushroom picking, see below extracts from the new French Forest Code and the Penal Code.



Chapter III: Offences common to all woods and forests

Section 4: Offences committed in another forest

Article R163-5

Established by Decree No. 2012-836 of 29 June 2012 - Art. (V)

The fact, without the permission of the land owner, to collect a volume of less than 10 liters of mushrooms, fruits and seeds in the woods and forests is punishable by the fine provided for contraventions of the 4th class. However, in the woods and forests under the forest regime, unless there is a contrary regulation, authorization is presumed when the volume withdrawn does not exceed 5 liters.

Clearly, the law permits in state forests and communal forests subject to forestry regime, reasoned picking a volume of 5l, per day per person. In the spirit of the text, the law thus allows a family gathering, customary and ancestral.

Article L163-11

Created by Ordinance No. 2012-92 of January 26, 2012 - art. (V)

The fact, without the permission of the land owner, to collect truffles, whatever the amount, or a volume greater than 10 liters of other mushrooms, fruits or seeds woods and forests is punished in accordance with 311-3,311-4,311-13,311-14 articles and 311-16 of the Penal code.

Article 311-3 of the Penal Code

Theft is punishable by three years imprisonment and 45,000 euros fine

In addition to the Civil Code further states in its Article 547: "Natural and industrial fruits of the earth belong to the owner by right of accession." This means that the owner does not do a particular act, such as affixing a panel to own mushrooms. Picking mushroom consists of a theft under the criminal code, even if the owner has not closed its land, or has not banned the access with routes posters. One can deduce from this absence of any pick-up tolerance. And accepting whatever is stolen, the concealment is also punishable by law.

Regarding the communal forests and private forests, it is in both cases private forest. The first is being a private forests under the mayor's responsibility. Regarding private property, the collector must have a permission of the owners, otherwise you see yourself accused of theft altogether. Cases of theft convictions are known especially for intensive pickings, even on truffle.

Regarding forest regions, departments, municipalities and other sections, you should know that mushrooms are a by-product of forests governed by the Forest Code "Sales of other secondary products - except cut trees - are authorized by the Board National Forestry that regulates their method of extraction and the conditions for their removal. The price is set by the City Council for local and sectionnal forests, and the National Forestry Office - on proposal of the directors - for other non-state forests under the forest regime ".

Limit your crops for you, knowing that even with a harvesting license, a number of local departments restrict harvests (in liters or kilograms). It is therefore strongly advised to check with town halls and nature protection agencies or the O.N.F. local agency.

Mushrooms are protected by law under Article L. 411-1 of the Environmental Code relating to biological conservation. This article lays down certain prohibitions:

"I. - Where a specific scientific interest or the requirements of preserving the natural heritage justify the conservation of geological interest sites, natural habitats, uncultivated or non-domestic plant species and their habitats, the followings are forbidden:"

"... 2. The destruction, cutting, mutilation, uprooting, picking or removal of plants (extended to mushrooms) of these species, their fruiting bodies or any other form taken by these species during their life cycle, their transport, peddling, use, offering for sale, sale or purchase, possession of specimens taken from the wild "

"3. The destruction, alteration or degradation of these natural habitats of these species 'habitats

Article L411-2 of the same code complete the previous one: "A decree in Council of State determines the conditions under which are fixed duration and modalities of implementation of the prohibitions ..."

The list of such mushrooms is stopped by decree of the State Council, displayed in the prefectures and town halls. This pick up ban may:

- Be permanent or temporary,

- Cover all or part of a territory,

- Be subject to an authorization.

The prefectural regulation is not systematic but picking mushrooms can be regulated by a decree. It is therefore necessary to inquire at the town hall of the place of collection or prefecture, as to whether such an order exists.

The prefect may indeed make an order pursuant to Articles R. 412-8 and 412-9 of the Environment Code supplemented by the decree of 13 October 1989, a mushroom list whose collection and disposal for free or expensive are either prohibited or permitted under certain conditions on all or part of the territory and for specified periods.

In practice, the prefect order states, for one or more species:

- The concerned territory,

- The period of application of the regulation or prohibition (times and dates)

- The conditions for exercise of collecting or harvesting or disposal,

- The quality of the recipients of the authorization,

- The maximum quantity to pick (it varies from 2 liters to 10 liters per day per person by region and type of mushroom or a basket per person per day).

These prefectural orders are displayed in each of the municipalities concerned and published in at least two regional newspapers and in the collection of administrative acts. If there is such a prefectural, it applies to everyone, including the owner of the ground.

The sale of wild mushrooms in the markets is a national and European general regulations, and an essentially decentralized specific regulations. Apart from a few species regulated at the national level, mayors and prefects are free to define the species authorized for sale and the control measures at the local level.

In order not to get lost in the forest or in the mountains during your mushroom picking, grab a GPS or at least a mobile phone. When possible, be at least two: good company, the ride is more friendly and above all safer. Besides your usual accessories (baskets, knife, determination guide), wear good hiking shoes or boots and protective clothes (do not forget the rain cape, especially in the fall) you can eg donning pants into socks. You must carefully inspected yourself during and after walks or forestry operations to control insect bites (see our blog post on ticks and Lyme disease).

We inform you about a new website with hundreds of pictures of mushrooms to assist and educate hikers on the different species:

For mushroom identification guides in French, here are our recommendations:

- L’indispensable guide du cueilleur de champignons  (Belin – 15€) - the essential guide for mushroom picker: pocket size, with a plastic covered (which is very convenient in the field).

- Les champignons dans la nature (Delachaux et Niestlé – 29€40) - mushrooms in nature: all the mushrooms of our regions, photographed from all angles.

And finally here the reference bibles from eminent French mycologists:

- Champignons de France et d’Europe Occidentale (Marcel BON – Flammarion – 23€50) - mushrooms of France and Western Europe

- Champignons de France et d’Europe (Régis COURTECUISSE et Bernard DUHEM – Delachaux et Niestlé – 35€40) - mushrooms of France and Europe

- Le guide des champignons France et Europe (Guillaume EYSSARTIER et Pierre ROUX – Belin – 36€) - guide to Mushrooms France and Europe

If you are sensitive to mushroom artistic paces in their natural environment, we recommend the beautiful books of Benoît PEYRE. Photographer and writer, he lives according to mushrooms growing. Enthusiast mycophile (= mushrooms lover) since childhood, he tracks down and crunches curiously the strange world of little beings undergrowth. 

Not satisfied with the quality level of pictures reproduced in books by major publishers, he chose to publish his very finest books himself. Each of the pictures reproduced in his books is treated with a selected varnish, making a masterpiece of each. We had never seen before such a level of excellence in the picture rendering: you feel like having in hands an album of photographic images of very high quality, not a book. We do not hesitate to say that the Benoît PEYRE books are works of art in themselves. Discover his last books:

The King Porcini (38 €)

Mushrooms picking secrets (29€)

Mushrooms, the Truth from the False (19€80)

At Villefranche-de-Conflent, the “Boutique du Champignon” offers a mycological show with fresh mushrooms picked in the surrounding forests, renewed every day, on the esplanade in front of the shop: the mushrooms are described with edibility or toxicity, and you can bring your collection to make it identify free. Delphine JULIEN, mycologist, vice president of the Mycological Society André Marchand Perpignan will inform you with pleasure and passion.

A Eguisheim, the Mushroom Boutique will direct you to the pharmacist of the village, Bernard BETZ who is an experienced mycologist, or to the Mycological Society of Upper Rhine (HRMS) that organizes every Monday evening of September and October, except holidays, a determination meeting from 20h to 22h at Espace 110 in Illzach (F-68110), 1 Avenue des Rives del’Ill.

The Mycological Society of Upper Rhine offers natural and mycological outings, conferences, introduction to microscopy and an annual exhibition every first Sunday of October in the multipurpose hall of Kembs (F-68680).

The next annual Mycological exhibition will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2020 in Kembs, from 9h to 18h without interruption. This is the largest exhibition of mushrooms of the department of Haut-Rhin, the 19th consecutive exhibition in Kembs. In previous years, 300 to 500 species of fresh mushrooms were presented, depending on weather conditions.

A comparison table between edible and poisonous will be installed, as well as stalls selling "Around the mushrooms: fresh mushrooms, truffles, La Boutique du Champignon d’Eguisheim, honey, etc.

A beautiful presentation of berry plants will complement the exhibition, as well as some floral arrangements on the mushrooms theme.

Finally, a meal service will also be offered to visitors, with mushroom crusts, forest pies, cakes, coffee and drinks.

Download Annual Mycological Exhibition Poster - KEMBS 2019

Download press release (French) - L'Alsace - October, 4th 2016: Kembs mycological exhibition assessments 

Download presse release (French) - DNA - October, 5th 2016: Kembs mycological exhibition assessments

During forest sessions in the field are discussed mushroom knowledge (edible, toxicology, ecology, etc.) and their place in our ecosystem.

An annual report is published that addresses all aspects of mycology: from simple mushroom collection to rational picking up, and with more scientific studies (articles can be found under "Bulletins" of the website of the company: http: //

Conferences and meetings are held in the local association at Espace 110 Illzach, where you will also find a library with many books and mycological books. An Internet discussion forum is for members.

Outside the period of determination society meetings take place every 1st Monday of the month from November to June, from 20 am to 22 pm (except during school holidays) at its headquarters: Espace 110-1 Avenue des Rives de l’Ill – F-68110 ILLZACH.

The membership card is issued for a family annual membership fee of € 18, or € 20 plus the bulletin of the FME (East Mycological Federation): it provides access partying, the annual exhibition, and receipt of the annual bulletin.

 The contacts are the President,  Jean-Luc MULLER, the Vice President, Michel RICHARD, and the Secretary, Nicole MEYER.

And we recommend the following mushroom exhibitions of our close german neighbors:

- The Mushroom Day in HORNBERG / Black Forest (download leaflet - 0,7 MO),

- The Mushroom Exhibition in STUTTGART (dowload leaflet - 3,3 MO).

Which methods adopt to cook fresh mushrooms? First, some species such as hard flesh clavaires, armillary and some milk caps should be laundered (that is to say, gone in lightly salted boiling water) before being cooked themselves. Moreover, it will always be advisable to blanch the mushrooms for those with sensitive stomachs. Generally, mushrooms should never be overcooked to remain soft and retain maximum flavor.

Then some species should be cooked on high for some time to eliminate some toxic labile molecules. In this case, the vegetation water (that is to say, the water discharged by mushroom during cooking) should be discarded and not reused. This is particularly true of certain amanita (Amanita rubescens, Amanita gemmata), certain mushrooms (Boletus luridus, Boletus erythropus) of Gyromitres and certain species of Helvelles. Obviously, we will cook the mushrooms of this type in a separate container.

Finally, note that mushrooms do not cook at the same rate and for the same mushroom cooking time of the foot and the hat may differ. should therefore be taken to always keep the same logic for the successive addition of mushrooms during cooking so that all mushrooms arrive simultaneously at their optimum cooking. The vegetation water may be reinstated during heating, if necessary, or may be used for cooking other ingredients.

Also see our blog article on the mushroom drying.

Posted on 09/22/2016 Everything about mushrooms 0 15132

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