Feasting on Fungi: Wild Mushrooming in Australia
Interest in foraging for wild food is on the rise, and magnificent mushrooms are very much on the menu. But if you’re gathering your own, you’ve got to get it right.
Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers is co-authored by leading experts Alison Pouliot and Tom May and delivers expert advice on best ways to go about finding, identifying and collecting the right mushrooms.
The book also includes a section featuring 29 delectable recipes, highlighting various ways to prepare, preserve and cook different sorts of fungi. In this edited extract from the book, we share one of these recipes, to get your mouth watering.
Australia is a fungal paradise. About 5000 species of larger fungi have been described across the continent and this number is increasing. Australia’s food industry is also rapidly evolving. The ‘foodie phenomenon’ is flourishing. A growing do-it-yourself culture has contributed to a resurgence of foraging as a way to source local, seasonal, and unadulterated food, and chefs increasingly use foraged fungi, at many high-end restaurants.
Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers is the first guidebook to provide comprehensive information about the edibility of fungi found in Australia. The timing is significant as it reflects both a growing mycological knowledge and the groundswell of interest in foraging for wild food.
Learning to identify fungi accurately takes time. Central to the philosophy of this book is the recommendation that foragers take a slow mushrooming approach: a ‘fungal apprenticeship’ of sorts. Building comprehensive knowledge reduces both poisoning risk and environmental harm. Mindful foraging is the basis of a safe and sustainable Australian approach.
Although this book is mostly about wild mushrooming, cultivated species provide the benefit of availability and certainty about identity. Wild-foraged species can be substituted for commercial species found in your local supermarket, in many of the recipes.
Drover’s egg and mushroom pie
This recipe was contributed to Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers by diesel mechanic Pete Munro. Sadly, Pete passed away before the book was published, but we want to share this extract and his delicious recipe, in his honour.
The old boy spent most of his life in the saddle, droving big mobs of cattle along the Murray–Darling. Sometimes as a little tacker he’d let me go with him. At night he’d cook up his egg and mushroom pie in a camp oven. I’ve no idea where he got the mushies from. Or the eggs. It was like he pulled ’em out of the air or something. He didn’t use a recipe or nothin’ so I’m guessin’ a bit. I cook up his pie sometimes with field mushies that grow in the paddocks, down along the creek, on our property. I’ve added the parsley, but he would’ve said I was getting a bit too fancy.
3 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup self-raising flour
3 large field mushrooms, sliced
½ cup grated tasty cheese
1 large brown onion, finely diced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
oil or butter for greasing the pie dish, salt and pepper to taste
First dig a hole and build a fire in it ahead of time. Allow fire to die back to form a good coal bed. You’ll probably need to open a cold beer to help pass the time. Beat eggs and combine with milk and flour. Mix well. Add mushrooms, cheese and onion and stir through. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased pie dish. Place dish on a trivet inside camp oven. Then place camp oven in the hole with coals underneath. Pile coals up around the sides and some on the lid, so that it cooks evenly. Depending on the heat of the coals, it will take between 20–30 minutes to cook. Remove when ‘set’ and golden brown. Throw parsley on top. You can also cook it in the oven and save muckin’ around (bake at 170°C for 30 minutes).
Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers melds scientific and cultural knowledge with stunning photography to present a new way of looking at fungi. It includes sections on where, when and how to find fungi, as well as 29 recipes from a variety of cuisines that can be adapted for both foraged and cultivated fungi.
The book is co-authored by leading experts Alison Pouliot and Tom May and is available to purchase from our website and from all good bookstores.
If you love fungi you will also enjoy reading this article on photographing fungi, where Alison provides some great tips!