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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Are these mushrooms safe to eat?

I recently picked several large white mushrooms (brown underside) in my backyard after a few days of heavy rain. How can I tell that these mushrooms are safe to eat, without being a guinea pig?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Portobello Mushrooms

There is a saying amongst wild mushroom fanciers: "There are old wild mushroom hunters and bold mushroom eaters, but no old, bold wild mushroom hunters."

I think that one of the best Web sites is MykoWeb, although it is focused more on California hunting. There are a lot of books that you should take as a guide if you are going mushroom hunting, and these are reviewed on this Web site.

The Ohio State University has a quick Fact Sheet on Wild Mushrooms that is a great place to start. Again, this is localized to Ohio but there are many mushrooms that might grow where you live. There are very helpful pictures to help with identification.

This site comes to you from N.C. State. It has many east coast varieties and some good advice about how to proceed if you have mistakenly decided to be a bold mushroom hunter.

Be careful,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet