Mushroom foraging, also known as mushroom picking, mushrooming, and other synonymous words, refers to the practice of gathering mushrooms in the wild for consumption.
In the fall, nature encourages many people to put on their shoes, take a knife, and begin their search for edible mushrooms.
In fact, many people participate in mushroom-hunting activities held in London especially during fall to learn how to locate, identify, prepare, and preserve edible mushrooms.
If you are also interested in foraging but unsure how to begin, and curious about what you may truly forage in the city and its environs, then this guide will surely help you.
Where To Forage And What To Look For In London?
First, you will require direction. Usually, the locations where plants and fungi have been allowed to flourish freely are:
- Wormwood Scrubs
- Hampstead of Heath
- Wimbledon Common
- Woodland patches
- Islington Canal
- Walthamstow Marshes
A word of caution from experts, though, before you rush off into the wilderness:
Make sure you avoid making mistakes because they can be extremely harmful to your health, even fatal. In fact, foraging should be approached similarly to birdwatching.
One should find enjoyment in identification before consuming anything.
The two most common and edible mushrooms in London are:
One of the common mushrooms in London, which is quite similar to the store-bought pizza mushroom, is Agaricus.
Since mushrooms need moisture to thrive, these mushrooms grow and multiply rapidly during storms and thunderstorms.
There are different varieties of Agaricus mushrooms. One among those entering the season in London is Agaricus Arvensis.
They are fairly huge, brilliant white, and somewhat scaled. These mushrooms are found in meadows.
Another mushroom that is common in London is Chanterelle, a funnel-shaped variety of mushrooms.
It thrives in beech and oak tree wood. Moreover, it’s a popular wild-collected commercial mushroom. There are a variety of Chanterelle species, however, they are all edible.
What Is The Optimal Season For Mushroom Foraging?
The best time for mushroom foraging is September to late November but take into account that mushrooms vary during that time.
The early autumn mushrooms fall to sleep about mid-October, and other species emerge after that.
What Should You Check For When Determining Whether A Mushroom Is Suitable To Eat?
Each species has unique identifying characteristics. Always examine the color of the gills (if they are white, the mushroom may be toxic) and stick with those you feel absolutely safe with.
There is no use in taking any chances for a mushroom, therefore, always adhere to the primary rule of foraging, which is to never consume anything that you are not one hundred percent certain about.
What Are Some Of The Important Foraging Tips?
Firstly, wait for wet weather and then venture out approximately five days later. After that, it is essential to discover which mushrooms are in abundance and where they prefer to grow, as well as to seek out their preferred habitats.
Again, beech, oak, and birch are the finest woods for mycological diversity.
Or consult an expert if you are uncertain whether a mushroom is safe to eat. Eating a poisonous mushroom can be deadly or at the very least cause severe illness, so avoid taking the chance.
There are numerous foraging courses in which participants are coached by an expert, which are also discussed in this article.
If You Conduct Your Own Foraging Classes; Do They Cover Every Aspect Of Mushroom Foraging?
You wouldn’t become an expert in foraging after a half-day session, but there are certain courses that benefit individuals who wish to learn about mushroom foraging, poisonous, and edible mushrooms.
These courses can educate them on the proper approach and provide them with the confidence to recognize a handful of the most frequent species.
This implies that all of your explorations are likely to be productive, even after only taking one course.
Are There Any Foraging Groups In London?
It may come as a surprise, but you do not need to reside in a rural area to discover edible mushrooms.
As a matter of fact, London offers an abundance of opportunities to explore wildlife and perhaps take home a salad topper or a few fruits.
Obviously, traveling alone to pick mushrooms can be quite dangerous if you are untrained; therefore, we have compiled a list of the top foraging walks and courses in London.
1. Urban Harvest
North London’s Urban Harvest is a free, informal network that gathers on the third Saturday of every month for foraging where you can always consult an expert.
2. Forage London
Forage London is guided by John in North London where the majority of his walks are scheduled several months in advance.
Each walk costs approximately £30 to £35 but having participated in one last month, you can attest to its value.
During the walk, you can anticipate tasting a range of plant foods and learning a great deal about fungi and plants, and how to utilize them to produce hot-infused beverages!
3. Forage Wild Food
Forage Wild Food is organized by Jason at Victoria Park and Alexandra Palace, two of London’s most stunning parks.
He knows how to identify various plants and fungi, and how to use them to treat common health conditions such as headaches and certain inflammatory conditions.
Each walk costs £30 per person, however, you must reserve your spot in advance due to high demand.
4. Fungi To Be With
Fungi To Be With is a club dedicated to only mushrooms. It is held in Secret Central London and may cost £25 per person.
Throughout September and October, when mushrooms are at their optimum, they organize treks, workshops, and pop-up breakfasts.