"...but the species (jews ear) is not edible when raw, needing to cooked thoroughly."
Did you have any side effects?
Just joined this forum, so I'm probably a bit late on this thread (like 7 months!) but for anyone who checks back or stumbles on it later like I did - the Wood Ear (name I like better than Jew's Ear) fungus is a great one to collect, dry (whole or sliced) and keep in the pantry to rehydrate in some warm water and chuck into a stir fry. It's got a texture a bit like chewy bacon rind and carries the flavour of sauces well. (Some people also carry it dried as a tramping snack to chew on - though in that state I find it tastes/feels somewhere between rubber band and mild mushroom jerky.)
The Shaggy Parasols are indeed delicious and if you're hunting them (besides taking a good identification guide on the foray and then cross referencing any ID with at least three other books when you get home) you might be interested to know they seem to quite like forming a relationship with Totara here in NZ. (They are so far, the 14th unique species of wild mushroom I've eaten since I got into this lark a year and a bit ago. What a delicious and exciting journey it's been already...)
Rock on and stay safe, fellow shroomers. Remember the adage - there are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters - but no old, bold mushroom hunters. :)
I've never been bold enough to gather anything but the common field mushrooms and the (Jew's) ear fungus.
Thanks for mentioning the stir fry idea. I must try it. And keep my eye out for some more ears.
Best wishes from Nelson.... Stephen Coote.
Thanks for the welcome Stephen, I'm happy to find this little pocket of interested peeps.
Besides your eye on the ears (lol), another variety of fungi in season at the moment (Spring through Autumn) are Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), which I haven't eaten (from the wild) yet, but have found them growing on dead or dying Cabbage Trees. So far the ones I've found have already been very old and dried after hot weather - but look out for them after a couple of days of rain in a row and you might be in luck.
^This is what they should look like if you (or I) find them fresh... but don't use this photo alone for ID. (Sorry if the pic doesn't work - am v. new to this forum posting stuff.)
Crafty tip: Once you've found the Oysters, you can also inoculate chopped up logs of dead cabbage tree with dowel rods that have the spores on them by inserting them into holes you've drilled. If you know someone local who needs a dead one cleared off their property it's a great way to move the yummy to where you want it - and if the fungi are happy it can continue fruit for several seasons in your back yard (...or secret survivalist spot).
I've never even heard of Oyster Mushrooms. But I'd certainly like to become acquainted with them. Great idea about farming them on a cabbage tree. This is a good use for a cabbage tree. I don't dislike them, but fallen cabbage tree leaves and NZ flax have really been a nuisance when I've been operating lawnmowers and weedeaters.
I really must try to get some tuition on fungus identification.
Thanks very much. I look forward to reading more.
In answer to this (Talbert's) overall thread topic, I own the two books that were mentioned above and second the recommendation by Ben, both are great - in fact it was Andrew Crowe's book which first started my interest in wild foods when I got it as a kid in the 80s. It's awesome and I'm glad to see it's been recently reprinted (and possibly updated). I always take it tramping and camping, just in case.
The photographic guide by Geoff Ridley is also great and although its "pocket size" prevents it from being comprehensive, it definitely doesn't stop it being helpful when used in conjunction with other books. Indeed as Ben says, the author doesn't make edibility a primary concern, though it is sometimes mentioned in the "Notes" on each variety. It definitely doesn't cover all NZ fungi, so please, please do get hold of multiple other books for cross referencing. Here's a bit from Te Ara (online NZ encyclopedia):
"In terms of species, fungi far outnumber plants. Worldwide there are an estimated 1.5 million species of fungi (compared to 250,000–420,000 flowering plants). By 2004, about 7,500 species of fungi had been recorded in New Zealand. However, this is not a true reflection of the country’s fungal diversity, because many groups of fungi have not been well studied. The actual number of species is thought to be around 22,000. Over 900 species have been recorded growing with the four species of native beech."
The weird thing I discovered about mushrooming (for edibles) is that you really have to learn a whole new language (of mycological terms) in order to navigate the identification "keys" in the books you're now using. (Photographs or pictures are in no way a safe or effective means of identification on their own.) Fungi are officially in their own group of life form, distinct from plants and animals, so all their parts have totally unique names and functions to wrap yer head around, before you can know what you've found (and are contemplating eating) and how to describe it to even look it up. Believe it or not, fungi are actually closer to the animal group than they are to plants! (If you want to know more, check out this article from Berkeley University's website - it was published in the New York Times in 1999: Rearranging the Branches on a New Tree of Life)
One book I'd really recommend (with a NZer among the five authors), is:
"Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the World" by Hall IR, Stephenson SL, Buchanan PK, Yun W, Cole ALJ.
Another, if you can find it (as it's out of print) is:
"Mushrooms and Toadstools in New Zealand" by Marie Taylor
(I found mine on TradeMe, as suggested in this thread.)
Most of the other guides I have are overseas ones, so while some of the species are the same - there is also the possibility of local poisonous look-alikes here which the writers will have not covered or encountered. This is one of the (many) reasons why, again, the idea of having multiple books (local and otherwise) to compare IDs across before popping anything in the proverbial pie hole, is a good un.
My main bushcraft type interest is wild foods (and medicines), so I'll leave you with a bit from another fantastic (but out of print) book on the topic:
"Simply Living: A gatherer's guide to New Zealand's fields, forests and shores" by Gwen Skinner, which quotes Dr H.E. Connor in "The Poisonous Plants of New Zealand" from 1962 advising on fungi and dangerous myths regarding their safe identification:
"Appearance is no guide to edibility.
Odour is no guide to edibility.
Peeling of the cap does not mean edibility.
A sharp bitter taste is not characteristic of poisonous fungi.
Both poisonous and edible fungi may be viscid (sticky).
Rapid change in colour when cut or broken is not a guide to edibility.
Green, red and white fungi are found among both poisonous and edible species.
Exudation of a milky fluid when broken is not characteristic of edible fungi only.
Fungi nibbled by rabbits and other animals are not necessarily safe for human consumption.
Fungi which are slug-eaten are not necessarily edible. Slugs thrive on Amanita phalloides (the Death Cap), the most poisonous fungi known.
Site of growth is no indication of edibility: for example mushrooms growing on highly manured places are not necessarily poisonous nor are those growing near rusty nails.
Fungi growing near serpents [whaaat?] are not necessarily poisonous.
Blackening of a spoon,
blackening of a silver coin,
coagulation of milk,
turning an onion bluish,
turning an onion brown,
and turning of parsley yellow...
are not safe indications of the presence of poisonous fungi. Fungi which do not act in any of these ways are not necessarily edible."
So yeah, there ya go - it just shows what a superstitious lot we humans can be when faced with foraging in the mysterious world of fungi!
In conclusion, as some of the poisonous ones are deadly and have no known antidote:
1. Get as many guidebooks (and expert/mycologist friends) as you can lay your hands on.
2. Learn the language of mycology and use it to read them!
3. If in doubt - throw it out.
Happy, healthy hunting all. :)