The summer 2017 is soon coming to an end with continuous rain for almost two weeks now. It’s not hard feeling a little bit depressed but with an energetic toddler there is no way we could just sit back at home with a good book and a cup of tea. There must be some outdoor activity in the nature to do on a half rainy autumn day with a toddler?!
Then I remembered a friend told me about a Swiss mushroom association VAPKO, where you could have your own picked mushrooms verified.
Please note that we have almost zero experiences with picking wild mushrooms so this is not an ultimate guide for a succesful mushroom hunting. Hopefully in the near future, I will be able to write a such post!
So,the other day I decided that the time has come for us to learn the art of mushroom picking, so off we went to the forest for some wild Swiss mushrooms! But before heading out, make sure to verify the opening hours for your nearest mushroom inspection centre at www.vapko.ch. Unfortunately the site is only available in french, german and italy.
We had with us each a small knife to cut the mushrooms, a tick repellent and a basket because I know at least that we shouldn’t collect the mushrooms in a plastic bag. And we brought some papers to separate the different types of mushrooms to make sure that the edible and non edible don’t contaminate each other. Another good thing to bring is an illustrated book of mushrooms, which we didn’t have.
After about an hour in the forest we have collected all the different kind of mushrooms we could find, which was not very much! Then we walked to our nearest mushroom inspection office in Bumpliz sud in Bern.
There were already some fungi hunters in the office. Some of their finds were impressively big…but it turns out later that they were non edible.
When it was our turn, the mushroom expert (and also unfortunately very grumpy!) told us to drop our mushrooms in a plastic bowl. She sorted the different mushrooms and threw them all away saying that they were all none edible and two of them were poisonous. I was hoping for more explication since it was clearly our first time, but her explication was very brief so we didn’t insist.
Yellow knight mushroom, very toxic!
In spite of the bad mood of that lady expert we love that there are mushrooms inspection offices for free all across Switzerland so we will regularly use their service until they close the office in for the season in october.
- There are 5,000 to 6,000 different types of mushrooms in Switzerland, only 200 are edible, 20 are very poisonous, and the rest are inedible (too bitter, for example).
In Switzerland, it is against the law to pick mushrooms in groups of more than three adults who do not belong to the same family.
As I mention before, you should keep the mushrooms you pick in a basket or paper bag because mushrooms degenerate more quickly in the plastic bags and can even become toxic.
There is a limit of how much mushrooms you can pick per day, for instance in the Canton of Geneva you are limited to picking 2kg of mushrooms per person. While in the canton of Zurich one can’t pick more than 1 kilo!
In most cantons it is forbidden to gather mushrooms between 8.00 in the evening and 8.00 in the morning.
- Don’t pick the mushrooms by the road or in the polluted areas because the mushrooms absorb easily the toxic from the ground.
When cutting the mushrooms, it is important to preserve the stem as it provides crucial clues as to whether the specimen is a delicacy or a toxin.
While writing this post it is pouring outside and I can’t wait to get out there in the forest hunting for some real mushrooms !
A few days after the post was written we went back to the forest and look what we found! So people, if you can’t find mushrooms on your first try…go back!
What we have learnt at the office
This time we changed the inspection office a bit further where we live. This office turns out to be holding inside a Fire station!
The lady was very kind and every informative and we learnt a few things from her. She told us that when we bring the mushrooms for a control we must:
- Separate the mushrooms in the plastic boxes
- Don’t bring to many different kind of mushrooms that you don’t know because the time is very limited and the experts can’t give so much time to explain everything. Instead each time, bring maximum 3 kinds that are unknown for you.
If you have edible mushrooms to bring home the expert will have a paper filled in of the type of the mushrooms and how much of them. The expert will sign it incase something happens to you, this paper is very important!
Our first time, I fried all the mushrooms separated in butter just to have the real taste of the different type.
Have a lovely hunt!