To the question of the edibility of mushrooms: subtleties of definition

Passion for “quiet hunting” rolls in waves, confirming the cyclical course of history. In my conscious memory there were at least two such “waves”: in the seventies, when the intelligentsia once again turned “face to nature”, remember? Massive cacti on the windowsills, hiking in the forest, “natural nutrition”, “sugar – white death”, yoga, all that. And in the late eighties – early nineties, against the backdrop of a general shortage, empty shelves in grocery stores and the distribution of roadsides for vegetable gardens, “mushrooms replace meat”, “pasture will save the world” and other costs of perestroika.

And now, we are experiencing another such wave.

Walking through the forest is definitely a useful activity: fresh air, warming up the joints, resting from the monitor. And if we go out into the forest not with a half-liter, but with a basket for mushrooms – this is generally super! Looking closely to see if a mushroom has hidden somewhere is very useful for eyes tired of watching TV, and tilting and squatting for a find is useful for the back and legs.

What’s next? Picked up mushrooms, and? “Quickly marinated and fifty”?

On the edibility of mushrooms

Or try to figure out what we have there in the basket?

Eh, good now! In the aforementioned seventies, it was only possible to consult with grandmothers at the entrance, well, maybe by phone. In the nineties, those who were especially advanced could ask their FIDO colleagues, the rest were advised by the same grandmothers at the entrance. And now something! Beauty progress! Almost everyone has mobile phones with a camera, clack-clack, and to the network, for help in determining. And the eternal question: “Can I eat it?”

But really, what can you eat and what you shouldn’t?

Let’s try to figure it out point by point. But first, three simple rules

Rule number minus one:

Not sure, don’t touch.

That’s right, “do not touch”, not “do not take.” Because there are several types of deadly poisonous mushrooms, in which everything is poisonous, even spores. When they say deadly poisonous, do not take this as a figure of speech, this must be taken literally: people die from mushroom poisoning. If the mushroom is not marked as deadly poisonous, but is listed as poisonous, you still don’t have to take risks: poisoning is poisoning, a blow to all systems, everything is by no means there. And the consequences of poisoning can be very serious, from indigestion, dehydration, liver and kidney damage to damage to the nervous system, up to death if it is too late to seek help.

Take a photo of an unknown mushroom right in the forest, fill it with a stick on its side or turn it over to take a photo from different sides. And that’s enough, let it lie there.

Rule number zero:

We are not telepaths.

Yes, a very good team has crept up to WikiMushroom. Yes, we try to identify mushrooms as accurately as possible. But we only see photos. We have not seen the mushroom “live”, we only have photos at our disposal, and these photos are far from always of normal quality. Therefore, the reliability of the determination is not always 100%.

And believe me, they will tell you the same thing on any resource where there is such a service as divination photo identification. In the end, the choice is yours, read the descriptions for the proposed options, compare with your find and decide.

Rule number one:

In the exact definition of the fungus, you are primarily interested in yourself, you who upload the photo to the “Qualifier”. From the accuracy of color reproduction, from the sharpness of the photo, from the detail of the description, from whether there are photos from different angles – both the accuracy and the efficiency of the determination directly depend on all this. And, ultimately, the answer to the question “is it possible to eat?” and, most importantly, is it safe to eat.

Determination of mushrooms by photo

So, you posted a photo of your find in the guide and they immediately answered you, a picture of a mushroom and a name. Let’s see what information is immediately visible here. Here it is, with arrows.

On the edibility of mushrooms

Icons are superimposed on the photo of the mushroom. They are very informative! If their meaning is not entirely clear, you can move the cursor to them, a hint will appear. In my example, the mushroom is inedible and poisonous. And the very name of the mushroom in this block is a link to the description of the mushroom, with additional photos. Therefore, it makes no sense to ask if the mushroom is edible and wait for an answer: just look at the icons, follow the link and read.

  • edible
  • conditionally edible
  • inedible
  • poisonous
  • hallucinogenic
  • curative

We will not talk about the last three: with poisonous ones, everything is clear and so; about treatment with mushrooms, it is better to look for information in the “Mushroom Medicine” section or on specialized sites; hallucinogens are not allowed to be determined.

But let’s talk about the first three in detail.

What does “Edible Mushroom” mean?

This means that such a mushroom can be eaten. Provided that you are not allergic to mushrooms, of course.

But let’s be smart!

If you collect a bucket of whites, which are absolutely unambiguously and definitely edible, fry them all at once and eat them in one sitting, believe me, it will get worse.

We draw conclusions:

– edible mushrooms are edible in reasonable quantities

– provided that they were collected not near a highway, not near a trash can, not at an old cattle burial ground – remember the horror stories in the style of “They recruited real whites and poisoned themselves with cadaveric poison”? – because mushrooms, like a sponge, absorb everything from the soil, including substances that are not useful for our digestion.

An example is a mushroom in the city, near the highway. This is definitely not to be eaten.

On the edibility of mushrooms

– provided that the mushrooms are not in the last stage of aging and are not eaten by worms.

Example, white, hopelessly eaten by worms:

On the edibility of mushrooms

Hedgehog, old and rotten so that his needles are sprinkled:

On the edibility of mushrooms

Why is it undesirable to eat old mushrooms?

Counter question: what kind of bread do you eat? Fresh, or stale with a musty smell? What kind of meat do you buy? Veal or beef from a cow slaughtered because she can no longer calve? Which chicken do you prefer? Young or old?

When I see in the guide a photo of mushrooms that live out their last hours, for some reason I remember this passage from Dumas, The Three Musketeers:

The poor hen was thin and covered with that thick and bristly skin which, despite all efforts, no bones can pierce; they must have been looking for her for a long time, until at last they found her on a perch, where she hid to die peacefully of old age.

Examples of old mushrooms, so old that it is difficult to identify them, we have them under the code name “dried fruits”:

On the edibility of mushrooms

On the edibility of mushrooms

On the edibility of mushrooms

Any mushroom, even the most edible without any “conditionally”, accumulates more and more “all sorts of filth” with age – from rain, from soil / wood, even from the air. And this “muck” does not always go away after boiling. The older the mushroom, the more substances accumulated in it that are by no means useful for our digestion. In addition, in old specimens, the natural processes of aging and cell decomposition begin.

An example, a very old liver one, the upper skin is already turning black, the edges have dried up, rotting areas are visible near the leg:

On the edibility of mushrooms

But honey mushrooms at a very advanced age:

On the edibility of mushrooms

Why is it undesirable to eat “wormy” mushrooms?

First of all, of course, the question is quantity. If you can see one wormhole somewhere, you can pretend not to have noticed. If there are a lot of them, if you can see not only holes eaten by worms and larvae, but also the worms themselves, you need to think carefully. And the “mushrooms with meat” jokes are not always on point here, there are so many worms that they are no longer mushrooms with meat, but meat with mushrooms.

Do not be fooled by the advice “hold the mushrooms in salt water, the worms will crawl out.”

The worms themselves may crawl out, so the problem is not in them, the oriental cuisine considers all this crawling and wriggling to be a delicacy. The problem is that all this living creature not only ate the mushroom, it also digested it, and dumped the products of digestion there, into the mushroom. Do you want to eat mushrooms with worm and grub poop? It’s like eating a chicken with dung or a cow with dung.

Examples, look, right there everything has already been eaten, we have nothing left! Dust and waste products of worms:

On the edibility of mushrooms

On the edibility of mushrooms

On the edibility of mushrooms

On the edibility of mushrooms

And, of course, a very important factor is that all these invaders greatly spoil the taste and smell of the mushroom.

What does “Conditionally edible mushroom” mean?

This means that the mushroom is not poisonous, that it is quite edible, but only under certain conditions. What? – usually written in an article about a mushroom. Most often happens:

– the mushroom is edible at a young age (usually this refers to edible tinder fungus and is due to the fact that as it grows and matures, the mushroom becomes hard, woody, it is simply impossible to chew it, like that chicken from The Three Musketeers. Or the mushroom begins to grow strongly in old age taste bitter.)

An example, a sulfur-yellow tinder fungus in the “piece of wood” stage, is already inedible:

On the edibility of mushrooms

– needs to be soaked (usually this applies to milkers, soaking allows you to get rid of bitterness)

– needs to be pre-boiled (usually it is recommended to drain the broth, do not use it for making soups)

– in rare cases, the edibility factor is tied to some other factors, for example, the type of tree (forest) where the mushroom is collected: sulfur-yellow tinder fungus from conifers can cause side effects. Or weather conditions: lines growing at high temperatures accumulate much more poison in the tissues than the same lines grown in cold weather (we are talking about spring lines).

Failure to comply with the conditions can cause digestive problems.

Of course, everything that is said about edible mushrooms applies here: we collect not old, not wormy, not in the city.

What does “Inedible Mushroom” mean? Why are inedible and poisonous categorized differently?

Mushrooms that are not eaten are classified as inedible. For different reasons. But no poison was found in them.

So, the mushroom might just be too hard (most tinder fungus, it’s like chewing on a piece of wood)

Or the mushroom is unsuitable for human consumption due to an unpleasant taste or smell that cannot be removed in any way, either by boiling or freezing.

There are a huge number of mushrooms whose nutritional properties no one has investigated, because no one has tried to seriously consider them from a culinary point of view: the mushrooms are too small, there is no pulp as such. Usually in this case, in the article, in the “Edibility” block, “Unknown” is put.

Mushrooms are also classified as inedible, in which there are no substances digestible by the digestive system of mammals. They may not be hard, with a pleasant smell, not nasty in taste, but it is useless to eat them, like paper.

Why do different sources refer to the same type of mushroom as either edible or poisonous? Who to believe?

You need to believe your own sense of self-preservation: if you are not sure, we throw it away. I don’t remember in the news reports that someone died from not eating mushrooms. But on the contrary, I ate – and in intensive care, and often with a fatal outcome, quite often.

There are several factors here: region, weather conditions, relevance of information.

Mushrooms are quite subject to variability. The same type of fungus grown under different conditions (first of all, soil and temperature) can give completely different indicators in research. A textbook example here is lines. The warmer, the more poisonous the fungus. Therefore, if the research was carried out, say, in France, with its warm climate, then the fungus will be listed as poisonous. Because there they really are poisoned. In countries with a more continental climate and colder springs (Belarus, Our Country, Ukraine), lines are eaten.

But with the satanic mushroom, the situation is the opposite: in the same France, it is considered almost a delicacy, we have recognized it as unambiguously poisonous.

Relevance of information: what year is the source? In paper reference books of the 70s, the thin pig was considered a conditionally edible mushroom (4th category). Poison was found in it much later.

An old pig in the “almost rotten” stage. Poison squared:

On the edibility of mushrooms

You asked a question, posted a photo, but there is no answer yet. What to do?

Put the mushrooms in the refrigerator, in a bag or tray with a lid.

Look carefully at the photos: maybe they turned out not good enough? In this case, it would be a good idea to try to take clearer photos. Here is an instruction on how to photograph mushrooms.

Add a description to the mushroom: where it grew, smell, some distinguishing features. “Where I grew up” – by no means coordinates! Where did you grow up – in a forest (what? Coniferous, deciduous, mixed), in a meadow, on a roadside, on a stump (what?) – describe this, this is important.

If the mushroom remains indeterminate during the day, discard it.

And let it later turn out that it was white or chanterelle, that it could be eaten. Find more and you’ll know what it is.

It is much worse if you decide to try an unknown mushroom, and in the end it turns out to be a pale toadstool, fibrous or galerina, but you no longer know what it was.


The purpose of this note is by no means to scare, as it might seem.

I wanted to convey to you, dear reader, one very simple truth: mushrooms are by no means harmless. Therefore, before cooking and eating, make sure it is safe.

And now you can “fifty”!

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