The equipment I use for mushroom hunting
The evening before my mushroom hunting day I prepare the following equipment to take with me:
- A clasp knife. It is necessary that knife would be safe and fit well into a pocket.
- A mushroom wicker basket. It provides good air ventilation for collected mushrooms, so they would stay as fresh as possible. A plastic bucket would also work although wild mushrooms will become wet and might be damaged during transportation on your way back home. A plastic bag should not be an option as wild mushrooms cannot keep their freshness and will be damaged in a bag. The mushrooms tend to get wet i.e. sweat from the warm temperature inside the bag and crashed from constant movement of bag.
To be honest, I could not find on internet a good choice of mushroom wicker baskets (I’ve got mine from the local supermarket although it’s wicker basket of general use).
1) The proper mushroom wicker basket shall be more than 15 cm in high (which is not the case for most wicker baskets offered on internet, e.g. Amazon shop) otherwise it won’t fit enough mushrooms and you’ll end up having few plastic bags filled with mushrooms or leaving many wild edible mushrooms behind (having no possibility to take them with you).
2) The proper mushroom wicker basket shall have the oval or rectangle shape, so that it’s confortable to carry it. By the way, I’ve seen on Amazon pack basket which you can carry on your back (just like a back pack) but in this case one shall be careful not to damage the mushrooms. As every time you find a mushroom you have to get down, the pack basket will bend forward together with you, mushrooms may fall out of basket and damage. And, if you want to place the found mushroom into this pack basket, you’ll have to take it out of your shoulders - it might be tiring if you have a successful mushroom hunting and have found lots of lots of mushrooms
3) The proper mushroom wicker basket shall have comfortable handle (folding handle(s) would also be ok), for example like this willow basket. In fact, this basket is the most suitable for mushroom hunting from all the baskets I’ve seen on Amazon.com. So, if you would like to buy a mushroom basket from amazon, I would recommend to take this basket (good size, shape, quality and pricing). And there is one mushroom basket for bicycles.
- Gloves. As mushrooms can be wet, slippery and/or dirty your hands, especially the fingers, will get all dirty after several hours of wild mushroom picking. In some cases it’s rather difficult to clean them afterward. I usually buy those one-time disposable gloves which are sold for domestic usage.
- Hiking boots. They are comfortable to wear if you need to go through wild berries groves or bushes, high grass and wet and slippery places in the forest. Often watertight boots (gumboots or rubber-boots with thick socks) are used.
- Water resistant light jacket. I would not want to come to the forest to figure out that it’s windy or showering and I cannot do mushroom hunting. It’s better to be prepared for bad weather than ruin the whole day
- Hiking or old thick trousers. Once I went mushroom picking in jeans and it was the greatest mistake of my life – wild cloud berry bushes have been easily pricking me through jeans, plus damaged the jeans themselves. So, it’s better to take trousers which can be thrown away if damaged or make sure they are resistant to any environmental influence.
- A cap. If you go for wild mushroom hunting late September – early October it can be pretty cold in the morning and it’s better to feel comfortable as slow walk in the cold morning would make you freeze.
- A backpack. I put there a bottle of still water (in case I need to wash my hands or I would be thirsty), thermos bottle with hot morning tea (which serves for my breakfast on the road and my lunch), a few sandwiches, a camp cup (for tea), napkins and first aid kit (in case I manage to cut my finger).
- GPS navigational device. If you go to a forest first time (to unknown place), it would be handful to keep a GPS on you, so that you don’t feel lost and that you actually don’t get lost. Plus, you could save on GPS location of your car, in case of disorientation (to be sure you will find it once you decide to be through with wild mushroom hunting).
- A mobile/cell phone. It would be helpful once you realize that you have managed to get lost You would be amazed but lots of people managed to get lost while mushroom hunting!
- Of course, you may wish to take with you some material (books, guides, photos) which would help you to identify found wild mushroom.
I have found that the book by Alexander Schwab “The Mushrooming without Fear: The Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Safe and Delicious mushrooms” is actually the simplest to start with. It’s explains easy the types of mushrooms I describe on my blog. So, I would recommend this book for the beginners who would like to get involved in wild edible mushroom hunting :)
Then, I liked the book by Gary Lincoff “The Complete Mushroom Hunter: An Illustrated Guide to Finding, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms” because of its quality of photographs and interesting information on wild mushroom uses. It includes more mushroom species descriptions than the book by Alexander, so I could recommend this book for the advanced mushroom hunters
Some people like the book by David Arora “All that the rain promises and more: A hipe pocket guide to Western Mushrooms” which describes the most commonly known on internet edible mushrooms. However, I do not find the quality of book is high and valuable, I disagree with approach taken by the book author to explain the mushrooms and list this book just because sometimes on some forums I meet reference to this book.I always collect only those wild edible mushrooms which I have eaten before and I know they are 100% edible. Sometimes if I can not determine the type of mushroom I take one sample of that mushroom species with me and try to identify it at home using various resources.
- Once I step in the forest I look around for a stick – some old branch of tree – which will help me to move foliage over while searching for mushrooms.
The other preparation task before going for mushroom hunting is picking the right type of forest where I can find wild edible mushrooms (more details in “Where do I find wild edible mushrooms?”)