"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mushroom Mistake (Win Some, Lose Some)



Verpa Bohemica, also known as the early morel, split to show how the cap is unattached to the stem except at the top: a true morel is attached all the way down. Also, true morels are hollow, and the verpa is full of cottony wisps. True morels are the most delicious of mushrooms; V. Bohemica is only "edible with caution.".




The whole potful of utterly useless verpas that I traded two dozen eggs, a pound of goatcheese, and some grass fed beef for.

As always at this time of year, I am trying desperately to get the trade network up and running. Just about now I am beginning to be overrun with eggs and experiencing a serious surplus of milk and milk products (Iris' twins were picked up today - starting tonight I will be milking twice a day). No-one, however, yet has any garden produce to trade, and won't for at least another month. Trolling Craigslist looking for things I might want to trade for, I found morels advertised!

I adore morels, as does anyone with half a brain, and was delighted to find them so early in the year. The man wanted $12 a pound for them - cheap for morels, but we are pretty broke and don't have money to be throwing around on mushrooms. So I asked him if he'd be into a trade and he said he would. Yippee!

When he arrived, however, he told me about how he'd been having trouble on Craigslist with people who kept flagging his post, saying that the mushrooms he was selling weren't safe.

"Why not," I asked him, "Morels are awesome!"

"Well," he said, "these aren't the same species as the morels you buy in the store. These are early morels, but they are great and just as yummy."

I was, of course, skeptical of this, but since I was born without a spine, I didn't send him packing but merely asked him if he knew the genus and species names. He did, and he told me, and he assured me that he's been eating these for years and feeds them to his kids and that the people flagging his account were simply mistaken. Dubiously, I went ahead with the trade, and when he was gone, started doing some research.

He was right about what the mushrooms were, anyway. They were indeed, as he had said, Verpa Bohemica. With good resources they are pretty easy to identify. However, not one resource I checked (and I checked about eight) said that V. Bohemica should be eaten without reservation. Most sites said something along the lines of "be careful with these, as reports of vomiting, GI distress, and loss of muscular co-ordination exist. However, personally I've never had an issue." Only one person I found reported actual effects, and he also said that the mushrooms just didn't taste very good. Many more people said they liked the mushrooms and that they suffered no ill effects, but that's not really good enough for me.

I decided to give them a try in a small quantity but not feed them to anyone else in the family. I have a fairly cast-iron stomach and I'm not afraid of a little muscular discoordination in a good cause. Heck, I've been known to bring muscular discoordination on myself, on purpose, of a saturday night. However, after soaking the shrooms in saltwater and then drying them in a low oven, I just didn't like the smell of them. They didn't smell woodsy and enticing, as wild mushrooms ought to smell, but rather gloomy and bloated and a little bit rotten, like the bottom of a compost pile.

I threw them out. You win some, you lose some.

10 comments:

Olive said...

Just as well you threw them Aimee, you may have ended up swinging from the trees by you toes (lol)

AnyEdge said...

Grody. Please warm me if you're serving wild mushrooms when I visit. I don't want to eat them. Nothing against you, I'm just a 'fraidy cat when it comes to wild mushrooms. I wouldn't eat them if they were picked by Jeffery K. Stone.

Aimee said...

will you eat them if you buy them for $40 a pound at Whole Foods or whatever overpriced grocery is near you? Anytime you buy chantrelles they are wild. All morels are wild.

AnyEdge said...

I've never eaten a morel, but I think we might be using the word 'wild' differently. It is illegal to sell 'wild' mushrooms in Missouri. They must be procured from mycological farms, licensed and bonded etc. etc.

Aimee said...

Maybe... A quick web search reveals that there have been recent advances in the science of cultivating wild mushrooms, but apparently it just isn't commercially via le yet for most species. Maybe there are loopholes in the law that allow, for example, any property owner with mushrOo
S on his land to register as a mushroom farm?

Laura said...

Well dang it! That's too bad. I have developed an anaphalactic allergy to mushrooms (why couldn't be olives?), so I look at mushrooms longingly. I can't even take the chance to dye with them (cuz I might)...

You can freeze eggs for future use, but they wouldn't be good for trading, I guess...

Good luck getting your network up and running. Too bad I'm so far away - I have an unsold half pig that I would be willing to trade for goat milk to feed them!

Aimee said...

ooh Laura now that is a shame. We have decided against raising as pig this year, and so I am on the lookout for good pork!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh, man. That sucks. At least you know now what to look for. And any morel mushroom man should at least have let you cut one open for inspection.

Dana said...

I think that's a really funny story. I recently got into a little self induced muscle incoordination of my own of a Friday evening and then my friend and I giggled our way up this mountain to a lady's house from Craigslist. There I purchased a door for my house which is under construction, and the door looked awesome to me at the time. Found out the next day that it's out of square and can't be used... Win some lose some.

WeekendFarmer said...

That sucks! Yeah...I would be the same way...no spine here as well : ) Fighting with a wierd bee-keeper now, who is taking me for a ride. sigh*