Mushroom Hunting

27.11.15

Wilderness Wood in East Sussex held mushroom foraging classes in October: the 62 acres of coppice woodland were purchased in the 1980s by Anne Yarrow and her husband Chris. Together they developed the site into a continuous mixed woodland and an inspiring forestry enterprise.  The wood has become over the years a popular place to visit for schools and families and a wide range of courses are held throughout the year. In spring 2014 the Morrish family purchased the wood to form a ‘school of self reliance’ and continue its enterprising spirit.

We joined Anne over one weekend to see what type of edible mushrooms were growing in the woodland and had also the opportunity to end the hunt with a delicious fry-up of our crop.

The first discover was a group of Chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) growing in front of the log pile which the staff is using for the carpentry workshops: it’s a very tasteful fleshy edible mushroom with a wavy rounded cap and pronounced ridges on the stem and the undercap. Another delicious relative we found growing under conifers was the trumpet chantarelle (Craterellus tubaeformis): it’s a tricky one to spot because its brown cap is very well disguised amongst autumn fallen leaves. 

A much easier find was the Amethyst deceiver (Laccaria amethystina) with its bright purple colour: at first it was hard to believe that it was actually edible but as soon as it was ready to be eaten in the saucepans we appreciated its nutty flavour.

 

Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) was growing all over the grounds around the visitors’ centre: it’s a mushroom which grows in clumps and can achieve a considerable size. Anne advised to pick up young mushrooms as they are tenderer to eat: the white ring on the stem is one of the distinctive features under the slimy rich brown-gilled cap.

 

Ceps were also growing in the areas of coppiced chestnut woodland: they are easy to identify as they all have a spongy yellow undercap. We found different types: the brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum), the cow bolete (Suillus bovinus) and the red cracking bolete (Boletus chrysenteron). They have a strong flavour and were fried up with the hedgehog mushroom (Hydnum repandum) which has a peculiar array of spines rather than gilles on the undercap and pops up in a line from the mycelium.