Identifying Wild Mushrooms that are Safe to Eat

A couple of years ago I went on an epic trek in the far north with some food friends. It involved a lot of canoeing, some serious portages, and of course some great scenery. It may have been hard work at times, but it was well worth the effort in the end. At our furthest point we were easily 5 hours from the closest civilized outpost and even though we were on clearly marked trails we decided to do a little homework before we set out. Part of that research involved learning everything we could about wild mushrooms so we would be able to identify which ones were safe to eat and which ones weren’t safe to eat. Here they are in no particular order.

The Puffball

In our humble opinion one of the coolest mushrooms you can actually eat is the Giant Puffball. It’s aptly named as it does look exactly like a giant puffy ball. These mushrooms can grow quite large and they’re perfectly safe to eat. Just be sure you’re positive that it’s a wild giant puffball that you’re looking at because there are some not so safe mushrooms with a similar appearance. It’s always best to become 100 percent familiar with how to identify any wild mushroom before you attempt to eat it.

A Little Beefsteak for your Plate

If you’re looking for something with a bit of a different taste and look the Beefsteak fungus certainly qualifies. It gets its name because it has a similar marble quality texture when cut that a high quality steak does. Be warned though, its flavor isn’t for all tastes. It’s very acidic in nature and can be a little too much for some pallets. If you happen to be lost in the woods and you’re running out of food it’s perfectly safe to eat, but it wouldn’t be the first choice for dinner in any other situation unless you simply like to experiment with different things.

The Saddle Mushroom

There are many different unique looking mushrooms and the Dryads Saddle mushroom is certainly one of the most unique. It does have a saddle like appearance, which is where it gets its name, but it also has a bunch of little pot marks on its surface which makes it quite easy to identify. You can find this one growing in August when other mushrooms aren’t really common so that will help you to identify it as well. It’s perfectly safe to eat and can be quite flavorful in many different dishes.

Wood Ears

One of my favorite wild mushrooms is the Wood Ear mushroom – to be honest I just love the name. It grows exclusively on Elder trees which makes it easy to identify if you know your trees of course! It grows pretty much year round so it also happens to be one of the most widely available wild mushrooms. If you are ever lost in the woods there’s a good chance you will come across some Wood Ear mushrooms at some point in your travels.