If forecasts for 80 degrees this weekend come true, it should help to warm soil temperatures, resulting in an explosion of mushrooms.
There have been successful people venturing outdoors on mushroom seeking missions during recent days.
Morel hunting is especially popular at this time of year. The short morel season usually lasts about 4-5 weeks. Questions often arise about the identity and edibility of mushrooms that are found.
Anyone gathering and eating mushrooms should exercise caution. Be absolutely sure of the identity of each specimen collected. Some mushroom species are poisonous. Don't eat excessive amounts even though you are sure of the identity. Certain individuals might become sick (possibly an allergic reaction) after eating a mushroom that is considered edible. Mushrooms can also spoil very easily, especially if collected in plastic bags and left unrefrigerated. It is best to wrap each mushroom in dry paper toweling or in paper sacks and refrigerate the samples if they are to be kept overnight.
There are 2,000 or more kinds of wild mushrooms in Indiana. Some are poisonous and some are edible and delicious when properly prepared. The edibility of the majority is either not known or they are not considered for food because of their small size or poor flavor or texture. Please take the following true or false quiz if you are interested in mushroom hunting:
* Poisonous mushrooms tarnish a silver spoon,
* If it peels, you can eat it,
* All mushrooms growing on wood are edible,
* Mushrooms that squirrels or other animals eat are safe for humans,
* All mushrooms in meadows and pastures are safe to eat,
* All white mushrooms are safe, and
* Poisonous mushrooms can be detoxified by parboiling, drying or pickling.
The correct answer to all of the above questions is false. For more edible mushroom information on the web, try the link http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/pd..., the Ohio State University Fact Sheet on Wild Mushroom or the IDNR publication, Common Mushrooms of Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs at http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/Mushrooms2.p..., and there is a limited supply of Mushroom publications available for $1 at the local office.
Don't experiment. There is an old saying, "There are old mushroom hunters, and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters."
It is the policy of Purdue University that local Extension office staff not identify mushrooms. However, for $11, one can submit a sample to the Plant Pest Diagnostic Center at Purdue and local office staff can help individuals submit a sample.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Please call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee.