Will's Wild Food Diary

 Wild food diary

Fresh, organic and free! Of all things bushcrafty, nothing gets me more excited than a foraging adventure.

From time to time, I update this page with a different wild food that is in season –  gradually building up a seasonal diary of some of the foraging delights available to us.

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Disclaimer: there's lots of good wild stuff to eat, and much of it is fairly easy to identify. Unfortunately, there are also some plants and fungi that can make you seriously ill or worse. This diary is a brief overview intended to inspire and not a substitute for an in-depth field guide and/or skilled teacher. I will endeavour to point out any obvious poisionous look alikes, but ultimately foraging is the individual's responsibility. Unless you are 100 per cent confident you know what something is, leave it alone! Also, please be aware that, as with any food, different people can have different reactions. It is wise to try just a small amount first.

Purple days

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As autumn fades into winter, the mushroom season is drawing to a close (sniff). There are still a few fungi hanging around though, and a recent meander amethyst decaround a local Dorset cemetry (often great places for wild food, due to old grassland, abundance of wild corners and lack of passing dogs) convinced me there was just enough time to squeeze in a post on amethyst decievers (Laccaria amethystina).

I realise the name and appearance probably does nothing to encourage their consumption, but this is a common and tasty mushroom. It's very good at blending into the forest floor, but if you spot one, stand still and slowly scan around – chances are there will be dozens of them scattered nearby.
am dec salad
Unlike many wild fungi, these can be eaten raw. They have a mild aniseedy flavour, a slightly crunchy texture and look great in a salad – perfect for scaring nervous dinner guests, as mushroom guru John Wright points out. Of course, they can also be cooked, but unfortunatly the colour fades a bit.
Foraging considerations:
Amethyst decievers can vary quite a bit in size and cap shape, hence the second part of their name (although this is the case with many mushrooms).
Young specimens are quite convex in shape and can be just one or two centimetres wide; while older specimens will flatten out, become more convex and grow up to about 8cm wide. The colour can also fade with age and rain so, to be on the extra-safe side, I always choose ones that still have the rich purple colour. The gills should be the same colour and quite widely spaced, while the stem is tough and hollow.Amethyst dec gills
They also dry very well which is ideal because, during autumn, there is scarcily a walk in the woodlands where I do not spot a few patches.
Potentially, there is one poisionous lookalike that can harm the careless forager, and that is the lilac fibrecap. However, the colour is much more faded (one good reason for choosing the more vivid amethyst decievers), and it has creamy gills and a brownish nipple on the top of the cap.

I should also mention the closely related deciever that is basically a brown version of the amethyst deciever. It is also edible and tasty; however, much more care should be taken as there are plenty of little brown mushrooms out there that can do harm. My advice would be to become confident with identifying the amethyst deciever first before considering the brown version – in its favour, the deciever is the only mushroom I know with a cool gangster rap nickname, that even the most serious of mycologists will sometimes use – Lac Lac (short for Laccaria laccata).

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