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Winter mushroom picking can be a pleasant way to enrich the holidays

30. 12. 2020 | 749 visits

Keen mushroom pickers will certainly not be surprised that the mushroom season does not end with autumn.  Even those mushrooms that do not mind lower temperatures are starting to grow. Many of them even boast of supporting immunity, thus fighting allergies, and even relatively effectively preventing certain types of cancer. According to scientists from the Institute of Botany of the Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS, this autumn has been relatively sparse on mushrooms, but this can change these days.

“There are several mushrooms growing in Slovakia that can be picked and enjoyed in November or December. However, beware of ground frost. If edible mushrooms repeatedly freeze and thaw again during extreme temperature changes, they can produce toxins similar to those we know in Amanita muscaria. Therefore, in late autumn and during winter, it is better to pick winter mushrooms, which do not mind frost. If the winter temperature is not extremely unstable, winter mushroom picking is safer, because we can count on the fact that poisonous mushrooms do not grow in the forest,” said Tomáš Čejka from the Institute of Botany of the Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS.

Most winter mushrooms grow on wood, and an example is also an oyster mushroom, which most people know. 

“The frost-hardy mushroom is also the so-called wood ear (Auricularia auricula-judae), also known as the black fungus or the jelly ear. As the name suggests, the wood ear grows on almost every old elderberry tree, but also on other trees, from March to December. A close Asian relative of this mushroom is the cloud ear fungus (Auricularia polytricha), which is included in many oriental dishes.It´s indistinguishable from our wood ear in terms of appearance and taste. We know it mainly as a part of the Chinese hot and sour soup or other Chinese and pseudo-Chinese dishes,” said Tomáš Čejka.

A typical winter mushroom in our conditions is velvet shank (Flammulina velutipes). It grows in whole clusters, especially on maples, beeches or other deciduous trees, but also on trunks that are already rotten.

“It is very tough and can withstand temperatures down to minus ten degrees below zero.  František Smotlacha, a nestor of Czech mushroom pickers, called it a Christmas mushroom because, unlike other species, it grows just during the Christmas holidays, often even under the snow. More experienced mushroom pickers can discover the late oyster (Panellus serotinus) on dead trunks of alder, beech, willow and maple in wetter places. It has an interesting taste and is suitable, for example, for goulash,” explains the biologist.

The botanist concludes the list of other winter mushrooms that we can pick in our forests by the ones which he recommends picking in the company of experienced mushroom pickers because it is easy to confuse them with inedible or difficult to digest mushrooms.

“These are, for example, the Russet toughshank (Gymnopus dryophilus), the yellowfoot chanterelle (Cantharellus tubaeformis), the field blewit (Lepista saeva) and the sheathed woodtuft (Kuehneromyces mutabilis)” added the biologist.

Edited by: Monika Tináková

Foto: Institute of Botany of the Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS