I am a novice in this field, slowly building up an experiential knowledge of the various edible species that can be found. My strategy has been simply to identify the most commonly-occurring species in my locale and get to know them intimately.
Some of them were already known to me, from my childhood ramblings..especially the instantly recognisable Shaggy Inkcap [see photo above]. Standing on average 10-15 cm tall, it’s pretty hard to miss. This common mushroom can be found in grassland, on road-side verges, on the edge of forests, in acidic soils between September and November. It’s name is derived from the scaly/shaggy appearance of the cap surface. I found some large specimens in my back garden and baked them with a very little pinch of rosemary,thyme and parsley. They were succulent and flavoursome. It’s advised to eat shaggy inkcaps on the day of harvest, because they tend to break down quite quickly. Although there is almost no energy value from most mushrooms, they do fill the belly and give a feeling of sustenance and they can often have medicinal properties, as an antioxidant, for instance.
The specimen above is another shaggy edible, the Shaggy Parasol, but unlike the regular Parasol, it can disagree with some people, better to try a small dose first. The regular parasol is less shaggy, with a flecked brown and white cap, solid brown hump in the centre. The stipe has a snake-skin pattern and a detached ring, the base is less bulbous than it’s shaggy cousin. It is advisable to only collect large specimens, since the family they belong to, Lepiota, also contain some toxic smaller members.
Note: I had this draft saved for the last month, waiting to compile the vast collection of mushroom photos, taken over this season and write some more about the delicious edibles found around the country..and breathtaking but deadly ones too.. but I decided tonight to just stick up a few of my favourites and publish it before it becomes really stale.. to be continued [when I find some winter shrooms and am reminded of this unfinished business] remember to taste only when positive.. cooked mushrooms are always less likely to poison, and get yourself a decent basket for collecting.. not only because it’s the best way to carry your precious cargo, but also because it would be great to support the nearly-dead art of basketry in this country.. happy hunting!