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24 September 2014

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Mushroom Mania
spacer Our 3-step guide to hunting, preparing and keeping mushrooms...

audioOur food critic Nigel Barden appears on Lisa I'Anson's show every Monday between 3 - 5pm on 94.9FM. He's also on air on Friday night/ Saturday morning between 03.00 - 06.00 am

Any decent ale houses in and around London? Keep me posted on your favourites at:
"The Mushroom Book" by Thomas Laessoe and Anna Del Conte @ £19.99 hardback, publ. Dorling Kindersley
"A Passion for Mushrooms" by Antonio Carluccio @ £14.99 publ. Pavilion
"Mushrooms on the Menu" by John Midgley @ £8.95 publ. Aurum...
Most supermarkets currently have a range of wild mushrooms and Tesco and Waitrose have Wild Mushroom Selection Packs from £1.50.
Wild Harvest, 31 London Stone Estate, SW8
(020 7498 5397) sell every style of 'shroom around, by mail order
Andy Overall's website celebrates putting the fun into fungi. He also organises walks tracking down the edible versions.
More info:

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Welcome to a Bellyful of Barden....'fungi to be with’ - well I hope I am, but actually this appalling mushroom-related pun forms the bulk of a website, set up by Andy Overall, to celebrate his love of Mycology (the study of fungi).

I waved a few 'shrooms enticingly under Lisa’s nose on Monday afternoon and they seemed to get her nostrils twitching, particularly the shavings of White Truffle, from Piedmont in Italy (well, at £5000 a kilo, they should excite her).

Nigel Barden
Nigel Barden

There’s something really earthy and sensuous about their smell and you don’t need much of them (good job too, at that kind of dosh) or of the Black versions, the finest of which come from Perigord, in Southern France, to perk up a dish.

More mushroom types
We also smelled and munched on Common Oyster Mushrooms (£1.10 per 100g), which grow in layers on dead or dying trees, particularly hardwoods (oak, ash), have velvety blue-grey caps and thrive even after the first frosts of winter.
(aka Porcini - £4 per 100g), about 10 cm high, with thick fleshy stems and a pleasant cheesy whiff.
Shitake – dark brown caps, 3 cm across and gently smoky in flavour (£1.80 - give the stems a miss). We also had the shitake on top of chunky slices of the olive oil bread, focaccia – fab for £1.50.
All prices are from Carluccio’s Deli, (28a Neal Street WC2). Obviously Antonio Carluccio is a massive fungi fan and his Neal Street Restaurant next door, specialises in mushrooms.

The 3-Step Mushroom Guide:

What To Take When Hunting Mushrooms:
1. Wicker or wooden basket, which allows them to breathe.
2. Long stick for parting the undergrowth.
3. Knife, ideally folded up, for cutting stubborn stems.
4. Identification book, to avoid food poisoning, or worse….!

When To Go:
1. From now until the first frosts is a great time, but some edible species will appear throughout winter. Spring is also good.
2. A couple of days after rain, particularly if there’s a warm spell. Remove them carefully and more could appear in days.

And Then:
Avoid any with insect holes, brush off loose soil using a damp cloth and cut away woody stems. Mushrooms are 90% water so don’t add to that by running under the tap. Keep in a paper bag to avoid sweating, in the salad drawer of the fridge and eat as freshly as possible.

Happy munching!

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