Mushrooms are renewable resources. Using proper picking techniques ensures multiple harvests over time.
It is not difficult to pick mushrooms. A knife (see our knife models mushroom straight and curved mushroom knives) and a suitable container are sufficient.
It is recommended to use wicker or rattan baskets in order to circulate the air around the mushrooms, which can become very humid when picked and mold can develop on their surface.
Never use plastic bags because they accelerate the decomposition of the fungus and some species become toxic on contact with this material: edibles can thus become unfit for consumption.
Always put your mushroom baskets in the shade when taking a break, and always protect them from the rain. For example, you can cover your basket with fern leaves to protect your mushrooms.
Be careful not to disturb the forest mat around the mushrooms. The mycelium growing below the surface could be damaged. Pickers should always avoid picking all of the mushrooms from one location.
A careful examination will indicate to you that certain mushrooms can be too ripe because too old (in this case, they are most often indigestible and especially riddled with small worms), or too small. Collect only healthy specimens.
First, turn the fungus on itself to separate it from its mycelium (filaments).
It is preferable not to use the knife to cut the fungus at its base (for species that are picked at the level of the foot such as porcini mushrooms), because the part of the foot that you leave in place will rot and this decomposition risks to gain the mycelium (set of underground filaments - see our blog post on the mycelium), causing their growth to slow or stop.
Never tear off the fungus either. of the ground pulling it with your hand, at the risk of tearing off the mycelium at the same time.
It is essential to protect the mycelium by covering it with earth, moss or dry leaves to prevent it from drying out and allow it to continue to live and produce fungi in the following years.
Don't leave a hole open, it's like leaving an open sore on your skin, bacteria could grow there.
In addition, keeping the entire foot of the fungus facilitates its determination.
What is the mushroom knife for, you say?
Well, first of all, the blade allows you to dig under the foot of the mushroom: thus you free it to get it out.
Secondly, the blade is used to clean the fungus on the ground as soon as it is picked, to avoid dirtying the rest of your crop.
The blade cuts the earthy part of the foot, the damaged parts (attacked by worms, slugs, or rodents as well as the moldy or too old parts) and the moss of porcini mushrooms when it is already old, which allows to leave deposits (spores) on site which will be useful for the multiplication of the species.
The notched back of the blade (when present as on our models of mushroom knives) allows you to remove any incrustations of earth and stones without removing the part concerned.
Finally, the brush cleans the cap of the fungus without damaging it, to remove twigs, needles and other plant debris stuck on it.
Always be gentle and keep your mushrooms clean and dry as much as possible.
Avoid water as much as possible!
It risks spoiling the consistency of the mushrooms and complicating their cooking: this is particularly spectacular in porcini mushrooms, which become real elastic sponges.
Some woody and hollow species (inside which there is an accumulation of soil, plant debris or small invertebrates) such as the dead trumpet or chanterelle, however, need to be wetted quickly under the tap or in a large quantity of cold water with vinegar, and immediately dried in a tea towel.
Finally, do not remove the stems of the mushrooms (unless they are really too fibrous), only the fibrous end.
It is essential not to pick contaminated mushrooms.
Toxic heavy metals and other contaminants can build up in fungi (lead, cadmium, copper, thallium).
Fungi can also synthesize even more toxic compounds, for example methyl mercury from mercury.
Consumption of contaminated mushrooms can have serious adverse health effects.
You should avoid areas where the soil is marked with naturally high levels of heavy metals:
- near mining and exploration sites,
- along road corridors and dusty areas of old and current gravel roads,
- ditches on the edge of agricultural areas where fertilizers, defoliants, herbicides and pesticides accumulate,
- near infrastructure or a locality.
For example, never harvest mushrooms that can grow on the median in the middle of a roundabout (we sometimes observe a growth of morels in the spring following the addition of topsoil on the median).
Also see our blog post on the radioactivity of fungi.
Our dried mushrooms are harvested in preserved natural areas, mostly in Catalan country, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, with the exception of our morels dry which come from the vast forests of Canada (Northwest Territories).
These are forest mushrooms, so wild, picked by collectors.
dried mushrooms have not been cultivated and have undergone no chemical treatment before harvest.
Many wild mushrooms are poisonous and even deadly.
You need to be extra careful to distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous look-alikes.
Some species of poisonous look-alikes grow alongside edible fungi in the same habitat.
Without special skills, it is risky to start picking mushrooms.
The determination of fungi may seem simple in some cases, such as for example to determine a fly agaric, but most of the time the determination requires a certain rigor.
The color and shape of a mushroom will depend on its age, ambient humidity, sunshine, etc. Never limit yourself to these two criteria alone.
The shape of the lamellae or pores (for polypores), place of collection, shape and consistency of the stalk, and many other criteria come into play when determining.
In any case, if you are not 100% sure, do not consume your harvest without seeking the advice of a trusted expert.
When you're new to mushroom picking, work alongside experienced mushroom pickers who will show you the different forms edible mushrooms and their poisonous look-alikes can take, and gradually teach you how to distinguish them perfectly.
As a precaution, always have your picking examined by a pharmacist competent in mycology (new generations of pharmacists are no longer systematically trained in species recognition) or by a mycologist from a mycological society in your region (hotlines can be organized for be able to identify your picking).
Never mix mushrooms that you are not sure are of the same species and perfectly edible in the same basket.
Otherwise all the contents of your basket will have to be thrown away in case of the presence of a toxic double.
For more on this, see our blog post on mushroom poisoning.
When do you have the best chance of finding mushrooms?
The two most influential factors in the growth of fungi are temperature and humidity.
Since mushrooms are about 90% water, they need significant humidity conditions to grow well.
We generally find mushrooms throughout the year but each species grows during a period of its own.
Some have a broad temporal spectrum over several seasons while others, very sensitive, will grow during fairly short time intervals.
- In spring, we will pick up the morels in the Jura (sometimes when there is still snow), mycenae as well as coprins.
- In summer, boletus, russula, amanita and, especially after storms, chanterelles can be found.
- In autumn, period of abundance and therefore the preferred season for mycophagi, the trumpets of death and the porcini mushrooms from Bordeaux will delight everyone.
Autumn remains the season of choice for picking mushrooms and the opportunity for a good day out with the family through a forest with fall colors.
- In winter, the first frosts generally put an end to the mycological season but a few late species remain.
The climatic changes that have taken place over the last 20 years have an influence on the collection periods as well as on the distribution areas of fungi.
Also, rare species at the edge of their range have sometimes become more frequent.
Finding a good mushroom corner is not always easy.
Indeed, the development of fungi 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.
- Field conditions : type of substrate (clayey, silty, sandy, limestone soil), acidity or basicity of the soil, type of humus, etc.
- Biotic conditions : that is to say linked to the presence of other living species, such as animals, plants (for mycorrhizal fungi), or even other fungi.
To find a good mushroom spot, know how to adapt your prospecting location according to the current season:
- Au springAt the start of the mushroom season, very few species will be found in dense forests. They are more likely to be found at the edge of the woods, especially under poplars and pines, in sandy soil.
We will meet especially saprophytic fungi (that is to say, which grow on trees or dead leaves. They thus actively participate in the formation of humus).
- In été, deciduous forests mainly dominated by oaks and beeches will be excellent places of harvest.
There are many mycorrhizal species there (that is, the association is symbiotic between fungi and tree roots - see our blog post on the mycelium).
- In fall, you will find it everywhere and in good quantity, both in dense forests and in open areas (edges, meadows, etc.), but it is especially under conifers that they abound.
At this time of year, we will mainly find saprophytic fungi (for the record, fungi that decompose plant debris).
If you are just starting to collect mushrooms, the right way to go is:
- The presence of bad (inedible) mushrooms is an encouraging sign that the temperature and humidity are good, in any case conducive to the development of fungi.
- Change location if you can not find anything, do not spend 3 hours in the same place if you have not seen any fungus.
- Try different biotopes: under deciduous trees, under conifers, under mixed wood, in a meadow, on the edge of the forest, etc.
- If a place seems pretty good for the development of fungi but you haven't found anything there, come back the following week because sometimes intuitions pay off!
- If you have found a good mushroom but it does not seem to proliferate, take your time, walk slowly and a little stooped while spiraling away from this place. It is a profitable process when you find a death trumpet, for example.
- Do not hesitate to go deep into the small copses, you will sometimes be surprised at what is there. This is because most people walk between trees and don't go through the more tangled parts, which is wrong.
- On the other hand, if you do this, beware of ticks which are particularly fond of this kind of place and inspect yourself well in the evening when you get home (do not hesitate to buy yourself a tick puller in a pharmacy - see our article on blog on ticks and Lyme disease).
- Finally, one last tip that I use personally, provided it is not too dark under the forest canopy: I wear my glacier glasses, and the polarization of the lenses brings out the color contrasts in the undergrowth , which allows me to spot mushrooms for dozens of meters around, especially porcini mushrooms.
- And as already underlined previously, avoid places polluted or enriched in nitrates. Such conditions often make fungi indigestible and can make you very sick.
With regard to the mushroom picking regulations, see below the extracts from the new Forest Code, as well as from the Penal Code.
Section 4: Offenses committed in the forest of others
The fact, without the authorization of the owner of the land, to take a volume of less than 10 liters of mushrooms, fruits and seeds in woods and forests is punishable by the fine provided for contraventions of the 4th class.
However, in woods and forests falling under the forestry regime, unless there is a contrary regulation, authorization is presumed when the volume withdrawn does not exceed 5 liters.
Clear, the law authorizes in state forests and communal forests subject to the forestry regime, a reasoned harvest of a volume of 5l, per day and per person. In the spirit of the text, the law therefore authorizes family, customary and ancestral harvesting.
The fact, without the authorization of the owner of the land, to take truffles, whatever the quantity, or a volume greater than 10 liters of other mushrooms, fruits or seeds of woods and forests is punished in accordance with the provisions of articles 311 3, 311-4, 311 13, 311-14 and 311-16 of the Penal Code.
Article 311-3 of the Penal Code
Theft is punishable by 3 years' imprisonment and a fine of 45 euros.
In addition, the Civil Code further specifies in its Article 547: "the natural or industrial fruits of the earth belong to the owner by right of accession". This means that the owner does not have to do a special act, such as putting up a sign, to own the mushrooms.
The offense of theft of mushrooms is constituted under the penal code, even if the owner has not fenced off his land, or has not prohibited access to it by means of posters. We can not deduce from this absence any tolerance of collection. And the fact of accepting the stolen thing, is also concealment punishable by law.
About the communal forests and private forests, both are private forests. The first being the private forest of a municipality under the responsibility of the mayor.
About the private property, the collector must benefit from owners authorization, under penalty of being accused of theft outright. Cases of convictions for theft are known in particular for intensive picking, even on truffle fields.
Concerning the forests of the regions, departments, communes and other sections, you should know that mushrooms are an accessory product of forests governed by the Forest Code: "The transfers of accessory products other than the products of cutting are authorized by the Office National des Forêts (ONF) which regulates their method of extraction and the conditions of their removal.
The price is set by the municipal council for communal and sectional forests and by the ONF, on a proposal from the administrators, for other non-state forests falling under the forestry regime ”.
Limit your harvests to your needs, knowing that even with a harvest authorization, certain municipalities or certain departments limit harvests (in liters or in kilos).
It is therefore strongly recommended to get information from town halls and nature protection organizations or even the local ONF agency.
Mushrooms are protected by law under article L. 411-1 of the Environmental Code relating to the preservation of biological heritage. This article enacts certain prohibitions:
"I. - When a particular scientific interest or the need for the preservation of the natural heritage justify the conservation of sites of geological interest, natural habitats, non-domestic animal or non-cultivated plant species and their habitats, are forbidden : "
"... 2 ° The destruction, cutting, mutilation, uprooting, picking or removal of plants (case extended to fungi) of these species, their fructifications or any other form taken by these species during their biological cycle, their transport, their peddling, their use, their offering for sale, their sale or their purchase, the possession of specimens taken from the natural environment "
"3 ° The destruction, alteration or degradation of these natural habitats or these habitats of species"
Article L411-2 of the same code supplements the previous one: "A decree in the Council of State determines the conditions under which the duration and the methods of implementation of the prohibitions are fixed ..."
The list of such mushrooms is therefore fixed by decree in the Council of State, posted in the prefectures and town halls. This collection ban may:
- be permanent or temporary,
- concern all or part of a territory,
- be subject to a direct debit authorization.
Prefectural regulations are not systematic, but mushroom picking can be regulated by decree. It is therefore advisable to inquire at the town hall of the place of collection or at the prefecture, in order to know if such an order exists.
The prefect can in fact issue an order in application of articles R. 412-8 and 412-9 of the Environmental Code supplemented by the order of October 13, 1989, a list of mushrooms which can be collected and sold free of charge. or expensive are either prohibited or authorized under certain conditions on all or part of the territory and for specific periods.
In practice, the order of the prefect fixes, for one or more species:
- the extent of the territory concerned,
- the period of application of the regulation or ban (times and dates),
- the conditions for carrying out collection or harvesting or transfer,
- the quality of the beneficiaries of the authorization,
- the maximum quantity to be collected (this varies from 2 liters to 10 liters per day and per person depending on the region and the nature of the fungus or even a basket per person per day).
These prefectural decrees are posted in each of the municipalities concerned and published in at least two regional newspapers as well as in the collection of administrative acts.
If there is such a prefectural decree, it applies to everyone, including the owner of the land.
The sale of wild mushrooms on the markets is governed by general national and European regulations, as well as specific, essentially decentralized regulations.
Apart from a few species regulated at the national level, the mayors and prefects remain free to define the species authorized for sale and the control measures at the local level.
Mushroom picker accessories
So you don't get lost in the forest or in the mountains when picking mushrooms, bring a GPS or, failing that, a mobile phone.
As far as possible, be at least two: in good company, the ride is more convivial and above all safer.
Besides your usual accessories (baskets, couteau, guide de determination), wear good hiking shoes or boots, as well as covering clothing (don't forget the rain cape, especially in the fall): you can for example put the pants on the socks.
You must inspect yourself carefully during and after walks or work in the forest in order to control insect bites (see our blog article on ticks and Lyme disease).
Also equip yourself with one of our walking sticks for mushroom pickers.
And of course you can complement your mushroom picker gear with the mushroom pattern shirt !
We bring to your attention a new website presenting hundreds of photos of mushrooms, in order to help and inform walkers about the different species: http://www.champiweb.com
Mushroom determination books
In terms of guides for determining fungi, here are our recommendations:
► The essential mushroom picker guide (Belin - € 15): pocket-sized, with a plastic cover (which is very practical in the field),
► Mushrooms from France (Chamina - € 12): also pocket-sized, and also with a plastic cover,
► Mushroom picking box: guide with knife (Reader's Digest selection - 15 € 95),
► Mushrooms in nature (Delachaux and Niestlé - 29 € 40): all the mushrooms from our regions, photographed from all angles,
► The visual encyclopedia of mushrooms (Artemis - 35 €),
For young adventurers:
► My first mushroom pickings (Frog - € 8).
And finally here are the reference bibles of eminent French mycologists:
► Mushrooms from France and Western Europe (Marcel BON - Flammarion - 23 € 50),
► Mushrooms from France and Europe (Régis COURTECUISSE and Bernard DUHEM - Delachaux and Niestlé - 35 € 40),
► The guide to mushrooms in France and Europe (Guillaume EYSSARTIER and Pierre ROUX - Belin - € 36).
And if you want to deepen your knowledge in mycology:
► Mushrooms, everything you need to know about mycology (Guillaume EYSSARTIER - Belin - 24 €),
► Rediscovered mushrooms (Philippe SILAR - Fabienne MALAGNAC - Belin - € 24).
Beautiful books of artistic photographs on mushrooms
If you are sensitive to the artistic looks of mushrooms in their natural environment, we recommend the beautiful works of Benoît PEYRE. Photographer and writer, he lives by mushroom shoots.
Mycophile passionate since early childhood (mycophile: person who loves mushrooms), he tracks and sketches with curiosity the unusual universe of small beings in the undergrowth.
Not satisfied with the level of quality of the photographs reproduced in the books by the main publishers, he chose to self-publish his very beautiful works.
Each of her photographs reproduced in her books is treated with a selective varnish, which makes each of them a masterpiece.
We have never seen such a level of excellence in photographic rendering before: you have the impression that you have in your hands an album of very high quality photographs, not a book.
We do not hesitate to say that Benoît PEYRE's books are works of art in their own right.
We let you judge for yourself. Discover his latest works:
► King Cep (38 €)
Determination of your mushroom harvests
A Villefranche-de-Conflent Mushroom Shop offers on the esplanade in front of the store a mycological exhibition of fresh mushrooms picked in the surrounding forests, renewed every day: the mushrooms are described there with their edibility or their toxicity.
You can bring your pickup to have it identified for free. Delphine JULIEN, mycologist, vice president of the André Marchand mycological society in Perpignan, will provide you with information with pleasure and passion.
A Eguisheim Mushroom Shop will direct you to the village pharmacist, Bernard BETZ who is a seasoned mycologist, or worms the Haut Rhin Mycological Society (SMHR) which organizes every Monday evening in September and October, outside school holidays, a permanent determination from 20 p.m. to 22 p.m. at Espace 110 in Illzach (68110), 1 avenue des rives de l'Ill.
The Haut-Rhin Mycological Society
The Haut Rhin Mycological Society offers mycological and natural outings, conferences, initiation to microscopy and an annual exhibition every first Sunday in October in the multipurpose room of Kembs (68680).
The next annual mycological exhibition will take place on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at KEMBS, in the multipurpose room, from 9 a.m. to 18 p.m. non-stop. (The 2021 edition was unfortunately canceled due to too many constraints related to the health crisis.)
This is the largest mushroom exhibition in the Haut-Rhin department, the 19th consecutive exhibition in Kembs. In previous years, 300 to 500 species of mushrooms were presented, depending on weather conditions.
A comparison table between edibles and poisons will be set up, as well as “Autour du Champignon” sales stands: fresh mushrooms, truffles, the Eguisheim Mushroom Shop, honey, etc.
A beautiful display of berry plants will complete the exhibition, as well as some floral arrangements on the theme of mushrooms.
Finally, a midday service will also be offered to visitors, with the famous mushroom crusts, forest pâtés, homemade cakes, coffee and various drinks.
During the outings, knowledge of fungi (edibility, toxicology, ecology, etc.) and their place in our ecosystem are discussed.
Press articles from France 3 Grand Est on the exceptional and early picking of mushrooms during the summer of 2021 and the newspaper L'Alsace on the same subject: "When the mushrooms go the extra mile".
At KEMBS, Sunday October 2, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 18 p.m.:
An annual newsletter is published which addresses all aspects of mycology: from a simple initiation to sustainable harvesting, to more scientific studies (the articles can be consulted in the “Bulletins” section of the company's website: https://www.societe-mycologique-du-haut-rhin.org/).
Conferences and meetings take place in the associative premises at Espace 110 in Illzach, where you will also find a library with many guides and mycological books.
An internet discussion forum is reserved for members.
Outside the period of the determination sessions, the company meets every 1st Monday of the month, from November to June, from 20 p.m. to 22 p.m. (except during school holidays), at its head office: Espace 110 - 1, Avenue des rives de l'Ill - 68110 ILLZACH.
The membership card is granted for an annual family membership fee of € 20, or € 25 plus the bulletin of the FME (Fédération Mycologique de l'Est): it gives access to outings, to the annual exhibition, and to the receipt of the annual bulletin.
The contacts are the president, Bernard DISS, the vice president, Jean-Paul MEYER, and the secretary, Véronique SAVOLDI.
At our close neighbors, we recommend:
► Mushroom Day in HORNBERG in the Black Forest (download the brochure - 0,7 MB),
► The Mushroom exhibition at STUTTGART (download the brochure - 3,3 MB).
The albums of mycological surveys by Philippe DEFRANOUX (photographer) and DANIEL DOLL (determining mycologist)
Philippe DEFRANOUX has been interested in different fields of natural sciences for many years.
He carries out biographical research on former naturalists from all over France (botanists, mycologists, entomologists, ornithologists, mammalogists, mineralogists, geologists, paleontologists, etc.) by consulting numerous works from the French Natural History Museums as well as other museums and libraries.
More in-depth research is carried out on regional naturalists (Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté) in the form of biographies and compilations of old publications, iconographic documents, inventories and collections.
He is also a field naturalist and each outing, private or public, gives rise to the creation of a photographic album.
It is most often associated with outings organized by the Société Mycologique du Haut-Rhin (SMHR) and the Natural Sciences Committee of the Société Industrielle de MULHOUSE (SIM).
Finally, he is very active in the Ecomusée d'Alsace biodiversity inventory. The species are determined by specialists in each naturalist discipline, either in the field or a posteriori.
Regarding mushrooms, these are generally determined by Daniel DOLL, but also by the late Paul HERTZOG, Daniel SUGNY, Jean-Luc MULLER, Etienne HARSTER, Patrick GOETZMANN or Bernard WOERLY.
It is with great pleasure that we make you discover the extraordinary quality of their work through the following few photographic albums of their mycological surveys:
What methods should be adopted for cooking fresh mushrooms?
First of all, some hard fleshed species such as clavaries, armillaries and some lactaria will need to be blanched. (i.e. passed in slightly salted boiling water) before being cooked strictly speaking.
In addition, it will always be advisable to blanch mushrooms for people with fragile stomachs.
In general, mushrooms should never be overcooked in order to remain tender and retain maximum aromas.
Then, some species will have to be cooked at high temperature for a certain time in order to eliminate certain heat-labile toxic molecules.
In this specific case, the vegetation water (i.e. the water rejected by the mushrooms during cooking) should be discarded and not reused.
This is particularly the case with certain Amanita (Amanita rubescens, Amanita gemmata), some boletus (Boletus luridus, Boletus erythropus), gyromiters and some species of helvelles.
Of course, we will cook the mushrooms of this type in a separate container.
Morels, excellent edible mushrooms in great demand, are also raw poisonous. Consumed undercooked or in large quantities (a few hundred grams), they can be responsible for neurological symptoms, accompanied or not by digestive disorders.
Finally, note that the mushrooms do not cook at the same speed and that for the same mushroom the cooking time of the stem and the cap may differ.
We will therefore always take care to keep a logic in the successive addition of mushrooms during cooking so that all the mushrooms reach their optimum cooking at the same time.
Vegetable water can be reintegrated during cooking if necessary, or can be used for cooking other ingredients.
See also our blog post on drying mushrooms.
Come visit us and discover the originality of our Mushroom Shop in Eguisheim in Alsace!