Why mushrooms should go into a basket, not a bag

Why it is important to collect mushrooms in a wicker basket and not in a plastic bag? This is a question that always occurs to novice mushroomers. Luckily an explanation is at hand thanks to LTV's "Pārtikas revidents" (Food inspector) show,

Inita Dāniele, a member of the Society of Mycologists of Latvia, a mycologist at the Latvian Museum of Nature and one of the co-authors of the "Big Book of Mushrooms of Latvia" explained the reason for the plastic bag ban to the Latvian Television program.

"When we carry the basket through the forest, the spores of the mushrooms fall out and spread. In this way, we help the mushrooms to multiply," explained the mycologist.

Mushrooming itself also helps the mushrooms to reproduce, as it gives a signal that it is necessary for them to spread again. Dāniele emphasized that what is usually called a mushroom is actually only a small part of it, or the fruiting body. 

"The fungus itself is in the soil, in wood, in a layer of fallen leaves, needles, or even in a separate leaf or needle," said Dāniele. The fungus under the ground is like a large, kilometers-long spider web.

When the fungus needs to regenerate, it expels a fruiting body above the ground, which contains spores, which will form a network of new mushrooms when seeded.

"If we somehow affect the fungus, traumatize it, if we harvest the fruiting bodies, a signal is given saying we failed to reproduce this time, we need to spread the spores again and again," said the mycologist.

Dāniele also pointed out that mushrooms can either be cut with a knife, or carefully pulled out, but the mushroom picker must be careful not to damage the forest floor too much.

And, let's be honest, a wicker basket is a lot more pleasant to look at and carry than a plastic bag.

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