Northern Bushcraft

Fairy Ring Mushroom

  • cap up to 6cm wide, convex, smooth, tan to light brown.
  • older specimens have flying-saucer shaped caps, often slightly darker on the central hump.
  • flesh is thin, white.
  • gills are broadly attached to the stem, tan, well-spaced, veined.
  • stem is solid, NOT hollow, and characteristically tough - able to wrap around your finger without breaking. Smooth, dry, tan, darker brown/red and hairy at the base, lacking a partial veil.
  • grows in grassy areas, meadows and fields, forming partial or complete rings.
  • appears in spring, sumer or fall.
  • taste is mild and pleasant; cook before eating.
  • warning: avoid specimens growing near highways, which may contain toxic car exhaust compounds.
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Field Notes
The Fairy ring mushroom is my personal favorite. They seems to be everywhere, they're tasy, easy to identify, and with some patience you can really gather quite a lot of these insignificant-looking fellows. As a city-dweller, you'll likely find this mushroom after rainy periods every time you walk around outside and look for it, it's very common on lawns where it grows in rings and often discolors the grass around the perimeter. When you find a fairy-ring, don't assume it's the edible variety until you check the stem and gills, because there are superficial look-alikes. The stem should be solid and remarkably strong. You'll have no trouble pulling up the entire mushroom (and maybe its neighbour) just by squeezing the stem and pulling. Next, make sure the gills are not crowded, but are well spaced and feel a little rubbery. When you smell the mushroom, you'll smell nothing, or maybe a faint non-mushroomy odor like sawdust.

I recommend going into the field with scissors for collecting these mushrooms. Snip the cap off the stem and then cut the cap right in half and check for worm holes in the hump of the cap. You'll discard about 50% of the mushrooms until you learn to spot the healthier ones. After you wash the mushrooms, I recommend either cooking with them fairly soon or preserving them. Anything you don't cook you should either freeze or thoroughly dry out. These mushrooms preserve well and taste just fine, they are one of the best kept secrets of city foraging.
Related topics: Edible Plants of AB - Edible Berries of AB - Edible Mushrooms of AB
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