Even Safe Wild Mushrooms Can Make You Sick If...

by BB
(Montpelier, VT, USA)

Stay safe when eating wild mushrooms.

Stay safe when eating wild mushrooms.

...If you eat them raw. NEVER eat any edible wild mushrooms raw. Always thoroughly cook them.

Some mushrooms, even good edibles, contain elements that can cause stomach upset. Cooking wild mushrooms essentially stabilizes (or chemically changes?) the components that could cause gastric discomfort.

In the early 1960s, my father, using a European mushroom guide, picked and ate some green russula fungi raw, on a salad. He became extremely ill for hours, and was taken to the emergency room where they administered an antidote. He recovered, but for years he avoided wild mushrooms.

His experience points up another proviso: Make sure you have a fairly recent, North American mushroom guide that has clear, detailed photographs. Mushrooms in foreign guidebooks may look the same as American species, but they may be different than those you find here, and possibly inedible or poisonous. Several national and regional mushroom societies are online, so check those sites for recommended field guides. Avoid coffee table books not only due to size, but they're also not necessarily intended as identification guides.

Other things to remember:

- Sometimes some individuals are allergic to perfectly edible wild mushrooms. One person I know of discovered that he is allergic to chanterelles, even though that species is not known to cause any discomfort when consumed. (Exactly the opposite, in fact.)

- On the other hand, there are a few edible mushrooms are known to cause discomfort in some people, even though most people enjoy them without any difficulty. One example is the Honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea).

- For that reason, when trying a new wild fungus for the first time, only eat a small portion. That way you can see if you have an allergic reaction.

- Another factor to keep in mind is that some mushrooms don't mix well with alcohol consumption. One particular fungus that requires complete avoidance of alcohol is the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). The risk of stomach upset even lasts for some time after consuming the mushrooms.

With these provisos and a good mushroom expert to confirm your findings - enjoy! Wild mushrooms can provide culinary delights beyond your expectations.


Comments for Even Safe Wild Mushrooms Can Make You Sick If...

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Morels are TOXIC
by: Udo Hoffmann

Yes you read that correctly "RAW", Morels are toxic to humans unless they are cooked or dried.

No mushroom, and that includes the button mushrooms you buy in the store, should ever be eaten raw! a select few, like the morel can be safe when dried but even then you will want to cook them after re-hydrating them to get the most flavor out of them.

No more Morels
by: Anonymous

I used to be able to eat Wild Morels, grew up harvesting them, recently I noticed I didn't feel very well after eating them, dizzy and light headed, then extreme pain in my neck and head, still not entirely convinced, I ate them, and I got extremely sick. Vomiting for hours till dry heaves took over. Not to mention the other gastro-distress.

Bad allergy to wild mushrooms
by: Eric Maui

I have been allergic to wild mushrooms for the past 15 years or so. I can eat White (button), Portobello/Crimini and Shiitake.
The rests are off limit for me. They cause severe gastro intestinal attacks and it can last up to 4 or 5 hrs. Lately they have been very serious. Now, believe me, I am not looking at eating mushrooms for pleasure, but in several occasions, chefs have been using mushroom powder to fortify stocks or soups, and even when asking the wait help if there is mushrooms in the dish, the response was nope.
It is a real bummer as I really love(d) mushrooms
Still trying to figure out why it started and what is the real medical cause for it

wild mushrooms make me ill
by: Anonymous

Many thanks this helps,our local bakery produces chicken and wild mushroom pies which are wonderful
but twice i have eat them and i have been really ill the both times but not straight away it took about 12 hours after i eat the pie,the rest of the family who eat one was fine.only i am ill after them.

alcohol and mushrooms don't always mix
by: Jonathan

Alcohol can cause bad reactions with otherwise edible mushrooms, and not just with coprinus comatus. I can eat morels by themselves with no problem, but if I have a glass of wine with them they make me quite ill. Others have had the same issue. This also seems to occur with other species. So perhaps it is best not to drink alcohol with wild mushrooms.

Some mushrooms make me sick that did not before!
by: LadyJ

I have always loved mushroom, even as a child. I did learn over time that Chanterelles simply don't agree with me, then later I found that I couldn't tolerate my absolute favorite, grilled Portobello mushrooms. (To me, they are the "caviar" of mushrooms.) After reading that sometimes alcohol might not be the best beverage for an individual when eating mushrooms, this makes since. The first (and last) time I had a bad experience with the Portobello mushrooms was when I was also having a glass of wine. Sounds crazy, I know, but I'm not one to have alcohol with my meals. I recently had a Portobello "burger" with a soft drink and had no problems.

Good Advice!
by: Amy

Thanks, BB! Some very insightful and useful advice here.

Sometimes I see some opposition to this opinion, but I do believe that mushrooms should be cooked before eating. I think we all need more raw foods, but mushrooms don?t really qualify. Here?s why:

Mushrooms, unlike plants, have cell walls made up of a substance called chitin rather than cellulose. Chitin is harder to digest, which not only causes stomach discomfort but also makes it harder for your body to absorb the healthy nutrients for which mushrooms are so well known. Cooking breaks down these walls, making your meal not only healthier but also way easier on your stomach.

Another very important reason to cook mushrooms has to do with toxins. Many species, even safe ones like the common button mushroom, may contain slight toxins that can irritate the stomach and make you sick. These chemicals are destroyed in the cooking process, rendering them the safe treats that you know and love. Of course cooking won?t save you from seriously toxic species such as the deadly amanita, but you?d be surprised at how easily a normal, ?safe? species can irritate you if not cooked.

You mentioned more important points as well:
-Know what you?re eating. (Never eat anything that you haven?t safely identified at least 3 times before).
-Have a good guidebook that?s up to date, comprehensive, and local for your region.
-Get live, expert advice.
-Many species can cause an allergic reaction in different individuals, so if trying something new for the first time only eat a small bit and wait to see what it does to you.

More great and thorough advice on the subject is here:
Eating Raw Mushrooms

I?m really glad that your Dad was okay, but I feel bad for your friend who?s allergic to chanterelles. What torture! (He can still eat chocolate though, right?) ;)

So remember, folks. Cook your mushrooms! You digestive system will thank you.

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