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Foraging Pocket Guide: Food for all seasons from Britain’s woods, meadows and riversides

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For example, a pile of logs in the woods will be home to numerous animals. Hedgehogs make their homes in these places, and stag beetles lay their grubs in the wood, so you shouldn’t disturb these places when foraging. Mushroom spore prints are used for a wide variety of purposes, though the primary one is as a diagnostic tool for field foraging. Besides this, they are also often used in artistic mediums.

Restaurants such as the Ethicurean in the Mendip hills, where ingredients such as hedgerow berries regularly get on the menu, have been pioneers. While not forcing information on people, they try to “have a small amount of a foraged item potentially on most dishes, with a view to sparking interest in our guests”, says Matthew Pennington, chef and co-owner. He says it’s about “encouraging people to get out there and start to have a look in nature themselves.” Your pruning blade needs to be sharp so that you can collect mushrooms without damaging them. If you have to saw at the mushroom or otherwise struggle to remove it from the ground, you may as well resort to just digging it out. Even if you don't buy into the whole idea of fully encompassing a wild diet - because for most people it's fairly much unattainable - but for people just incorporating a small amount of wild food into their diet, you’re increasing massively the amount of nutrients, the micronutrients and the vitamins that you're getting, a lot of which aren't even available regularly in your commonly bought foods. Mushroom bags are useful for everyone who forages, whether you’re collecting a few pounds of mushrooms or just a few specimens. Having a mesh bag is the first tool to being prepared for foraging. However, despite the bright colours, this isn't quite the dangerous mushroom many think it would be. The Fly Agaric does not contain the vital organ destroying toxins that can be found in the Deathcap and Destroying Angel. It's the rather pale coloured species of Amanita that you should be more concerned with.With so many different types of mushrooms growing around the world, magnifying glasses can play a critical role in identifying the mushrooms you find and what they can be used for. Edible, medicinal, and poisonous mushrooms can often look alike. But with a magnifying glass, you’ll be able to see the key differences between the species. Without a magnifying glass, you may have to collect the mushroom just to examine it and confirm it’s a safe species. If it’s not, you’ve needlessly damaged the mushroom and may have placed yourself in a potentially harmful situation. How to Use a Magnifying Glass When Foraging for Mushrooms

At the start of the experiment this forager felt flat – low in energy, emotion or excitement, but after some weeks of wild food, fresh air and appreciation of nature, she doesn’t want the project to stop. Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily the only way to create a spore print. However, they are useful and are the method recommended by the North American Mycological Association. What are Mushroom Spore Prints Used for? Foraging has the very real benefits of exercise and fresh air and reducing your food bills, but most importantly it’s a fun way to learn about nature and introduce new flavours to your diet. This knowledge will make you an important person on any camping trip or walk through the woods. Knight recommends nettles, which “are obviously amazing and everywhere”; garlic mustard, which grows in parks and on verges and can be put into salads; and three-cornered leek, an “invasive but delicious cross between a leek and a garlic”. When foraging for mushrooms, use your magnifying glass after spotting the mushroom but prior to cutting it, if possible. Use the glass to examine the specific characteristics of the mushroom that may be difficult to see with your naked eye.There are several ways to make a mushroom spore print. Each method depends on the mushrooms itself, whether it has gills, pores, or takes another form. Many foragers who make spore prints prefer to bring a variety of paper, just in case they come across a new or unknown type of mushroom. How to Make a Mushroom Spore Print Some people have even been known to make ink using the spores from Coprinus species. Final Thoughts

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