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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Love wild mushroom but can't eat them anymore NEW
by: Sunny

Like a few of the comments here I can no longer eat most wild mushrooms. It's with great sadness. I still go out picking them because I love picking almost as much as eating them. I was a commercial harvester for a while, now it's just for enjoyment. Chanterelles just give me stomach pain and upset but enough so that I don't want to eat them, but the worst is lobster mushrooms. I experimented last night again just to be certain and because I just wanted to taste a little piece, literally just the size of my thumbnail sauteed in butter. Wasnt more than 2 hours later that I lost by my entire dinner and had to take 2 gravol just so I could sleep and stop getting sick... I have no idea why it started. about 3 years ago out of the blue. We used to enjoy so many mushroom dishes as living in the PNW mushrooms are everywhere in abundance during the fall. But now I'm afraid to even try and see if there are any of them I can eat. I think I was able to eat Admiral boletes a couple of years ago, shitaki are fine and the store bought white mushrooms are no problem. Just most of the really lovely wild mushrooms seem to be the problem.

Chicken of the woods NEW
by: Anonymous

I foraged this and cooked it up. I did add white wine and I have had stomach distress going on three days. They were delicious but now I’m afraid to eat more of them.

Chicken of the wood
by: Anonymous

When harvesting chicken mushroom. Make sure it's not on maple. The mushroom absorbs something out of Maple that will make you sick.. Allso don't eat mushrooms out of parks unless you know they don't use fertilizer and pesticides. If you want to get into wild mushrooms be smart join a mushroom club. Talk to the members. Show them picks include location of the find (ex. What it was found on. Tree type or soil type. Include pics of it in place before picking. Then pic of gills and a spore print.)

Not so sure about Chicken of the Woods NEW
by: Andrew S.

While playing disc golf in MD one of my friends found some Chicken of the Woods. My Wife insisted that we try only a little the first night and all was fine. So the next night we had a large dish with pasta and peppers. The next day my gut was way off and still is (day 5). Basically, I'm not very hungry, but we all need to eat. Then when I do I bloat.

I cannot be sure that it is the mushrooms, but for now I'm taking probiotics and trying to wait it out. If I still have these symptoms next week I'm going to the Dr.!

It would be an odd coincidence if I had some major illness like pancreatitis that flaired up at the same time as I tried these shrooms. Aside from that, they were tasty.

Ran to shiitakes NEW
by: Anonymous

Just had a stir fry that included shiitakes. Then I sat down with a glass of wine and immediately sweated profusely, had stomach pain and diarrhea. It could have been something else in food, but doubt it

what is the interaction
by: Anonymous

why does drinking alcohol with wild mushrooms make you ill? what is the chemical interaction?

No longer able to eat oyster mushrooms NEW
by: Anonymous

I used to eat oyster mushroom as a child when my mom put them in soup. I really liked them added. I would be disappointed when my mom would prepare the soup, but the mushrooms were unavailable. Now as an adult, I discover my body cannot tolerate it. The first time, I thought it was food poisoning during summer because the food sat on the stove at room temperature. The last time, I bought them at the store. I thought the fuzzy was the mold, and threw away sections of it. I ate them as prepped in soup that evening. My body woke up 30 minutes before the expulsion, as if it was giving me time to get ready for an unpleasant overnight experience. I took the remaining back to the store figuring that it was bad stock. I don't think I want to confirm for a 3rd time that I have to avoid oyster mushrooms for good. I can eat shitake and button without problem. I cannot figure out when eating oyster mushrooms became toxic to me.

Never had any problem with Shaggy Mane and Alcohol NEW
by: bgmCoder

We eat Shaggy Manes all the time - sauteed in butter, usually. I've had them with red wine many times, and so has my community. We've never had any issue, ever with this.

However, I've read about other coprinus species that have an effect with alcohol. One of those looks like shaggy mane that isn't quite shaggy. I've never tried with this one.

But with Shaggy, Mane, I don't hesitate.

Morels NEW
by: Pat

Fried up some morels last night, four hours later I was vomiting. The worst thing though is that my eye lids and skin below my eyes is crimson red. This happened right after I threw up. The eyes aren’t red and there is no swelling, just red. I’m pretty scary looking!

Chicken of the wood cause stomach pain NEW
by: Anonymous

I eat chicken mushroom then have abdomens pain for a week now when easy the pain does it go away in time or do I need to see a doctor?

Shiitake mushrooms now off limits...
by: Ruth

After four episodes of gastro-intestinal distress after eating dishes with shiitake mushrooms, they are now off limits for me. It didn't bother me before, but now I'm scared of them. Twice from a restaurant, once in a friend's mushroom risotto, and once in an Asian Salad at Whole Foods. Not sure what it is -- dried mushrooms imported from China, old mushrooms, or what.. I now put that in my medical file, and tell waiters that I am intolerant. A doctor told me that they were high in MSG. Any opinions?

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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