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LTV goes mushroom hunting

If you don't know a mushroom, then it's not edible – that's how to decide on what to eat, according to mycologist Inita Dāniele, reports Latvian Television.

According to her, when foraging in the forest it is best to go with someone who knows fungi well.

Current conditions in Latvia's forests – warm and wet – are ideal for mushrooms to appear, as LTV discovered on a ramble with Inita Dāniele.  

"Phew, very bitter. Inedible," the specialist concluded after tasting a small piece of a beka or boletus mushroom, using a method to reliably check whether bekas are edible or not.

"If a person has a question as to whether this mushroom is edible, then that mushroom is not edible for them. Then, when they gets to know it, they will not need to ask anymore, they will already know which one is edible and which one is not."

There are various books and mobile apps available to help you identify mushrooms. Experts do not recommend relying on them completely, because the descriptions will not always be exhaustive and the pictures can mislead. It is best to go into the forest with someone who knows mushrooms.

Diāna Meiere, deputy director of the Latvian National Museum of Nature, said: "It can be a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a group of like-minded people who organize this type of excursion. The best way to get to know a mushroom is to find it several times, to look at it from all sides. It is also useful, of course, to attend mushroom exhibitions and various mushroom events that take place all over Latvia."

"Take a box with you to put unfamiliar mushrooms in. Don't put unfamiliar mushrooms in the same basket as chanterelles, because something might break off, get some mushroom particles in between the edible mushrooms, or even forget that you've picked something strange from the forest," instructed the specialist.

Dietician Andis Brēmanis said that in essence mushrooms are a natural and healthy product, provided correct identification is made. He even mentions a parasol mushroom, which is popularly called saulsardzene that can be eaten right away, even in the forest.

The rest of the mushrooms found in Latvia will have to be 'thermally processed' i.e. cooked. The dietitian advises not to fry them too much, not to add a lot of fat and not to salt them.

"If mushrooms are sauteed in a pan in a little butter, it releases a lot of moisture. They contain 90% water. You should not fry, but saute the mushrooms... The ideal solution right now is zucchini season. Vegetable stew, where you put zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower. You can put such mushrooms inside, and it becomes very filling," suggets the dietician.

He also reminded that mushrooms should be eaten in moderation, otherwise the stomach will swell and you (and those within your immediate vicinity) will have to contend with a great deal of gas.

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