Please Explain: Mushrooms

Friday, September 26, 2008

Find out why mushrooms can be both delicious and dangerous. Gary Lincoff is author of several books including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. He’s also taught botany and mushroom courses at The New York Botanical Garden since the 1970s. Chef Jawn Chasteen of The Sea Grill is participating in the Mushroom Festival by Patina Restaurant Group.

Weigh in: Have you ever been mushroom hunting in the New York area?


Chef Jawn Chasteen and Gary Lincoff

Comments [28]


Just moved into the Melville Huntington area of liny and would enjoy a good mushroom hunt. Could anyone help me out as to which areas could be best

Oct. 05 2013 01:19 PM
Lisa Solomon from Ardsley, New York

I am a member of the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association ( Gary Lincoff has served as the chief mycologist at a number of our annual forays in Moodus, Connecticut), and has presented may talks to our group. He is a very knowledgeable and engaging speaker, and I urge anyone who is interested in mushrooms to attend his public talks.

Our group offers organized mushroom hunting walks almost every weekend between May and October in Westchester County and Southern Connecticut. The full walk schedule is at our website ( Our walk tomorrow (Sunday, September 28) is at the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale at 9:30 a.m. It's a great walk for beginners: easy, level terrain and a wide variety of edible and non-edible mushrooms to be found.

Sep. 27 2008 10:49 AM
Sophie Allen from poughkeepsie, ny

I'm going mushroom hunting tomorrow at Locust Grove the Samuel Morse Historic Site in Dutchess County. The "hunt" is held by area mycologists once a year. I went last year with my daughter, she had a blast and learned so much--me too! And the mushrooms were fantastic.

Sep. 26 2008 06:33 PM
Kale from NYC

Morels in the spring. Chanterelles in the summer.

Sep. 26 2008 02:44 PM
Erik from Harrison, NY

Thanks very much to Guido. The mushrooms I have are almost certainly Hen of the Woods, although the photos I've seen appear to be a bit darker than the ones I've seen.

I know that my neighbors eat these all the time. I have given him permission to harvest them from my yard. If they grow back this year perhaps I'll have to try some myself.

Sep. 26 2008 02:18 PM
Angelynn Cerriswen

The puff balls can be prepared like French toast,or used in any way tofu is. FABULOUS ! A warning, though : I gathered some edibles, did a spore test and all - got violently ill...hadn't considered the ground the mushrooms were growing out of...they were chemically treated wood chips! Beware
The caller on the phone has discovered the "Mama Fungi" - my grandfather used to find in in Long Island...don't laugh, it tastes like chicken. It grew in the same place every year, and the location was kept secret. My grandfather's cronies never forgave Giacomo for "going to the grave" without sharing the location he knew !

Sep. 26 2008 02:00 PM
Carlo Altomare from Manhattan

I'm a little concerned that they didn't mention that if you don't clean Aminita Muscara (sp?) correctly they can be poisonous. True?

Sep. 26 2008 01:57 PM
Karen from Boulder, CO

I had a wonderful childhood in Nova Scotia, we had many hundreds of acres of land on the water. When we would bug my mum for money for toys/candy whatever it was that we needed, she would send us with a cardboard box to the woods to pick chantrelles. We were lucky to get $3.00 per pound for them which seemed like alot, imagine my surprise when I saw them selling at Whole Foods here in Boulder, CO for $19.99/pound!
It was great to always have a way to earn money just by running out back to the woods.

Sep. 26 2008 01:54 PM
Dorothy from Manhattan

My grandfather (born in Slovakia) hunted mushrooms in Western Panna. and was noted for knowing the poisonous and OK. Most of what he found were stump mushrooms and I've never seen them for sale. Grandmother cut them up and sauteed them with onion and served huge portions of them with whatever meat she served that meal. (Always cooked and served separate from the meat. I don't know what oil/fat she used, but I'm certain she wouldn't have spent the money for olive oil. She also "canned" them in Mason jars and as I look back I'm astonished that they tasted wonderful.

Sep. 26 2008 01:48 PM
Sharon M. from Fair Lawn, NJ

What is the best way to clean mushrooms before cooking? I've heard you just brush off the dirt. That isn't enough for me, but I've also heard that water on the mushrooms is bad for them. Some store mushrooms are really dirty.

Sep. 26 2008 01:47 PM

chinese medicine is really big on mushrooms

Sep. 26 2008 01:46 PM
Carl Friedrich from Brooklyn

Are there any truffle mushrooms found in North America?
And if yes, where are they found?

Sep. 26 2008 01:40 PM
bk from nyc

when I was a college student in the late 70's I shared an apt. with 3 other girls. the 4 of use used just one shower but none of us were very good house cleaners. after being away for a spring break one year we returned to find a huge mushroom growing in the grout of the shower. eeew!!! needless to say, we didn't consider eating it.

Sep. 26 2008 01:40 PM
Yannie from Manhattan


What is QUORN?

I know it is a high quality fungus-based vegetarian protein source discovered in the 1970s that is supposed to be better than soy based products like tofu or tempeh.

Why is it not more widely available? Is there some kind of fungus prejudice?


Sep. 26 2008 01:39 PM
Shana from Brooklyn

I heard that a portabello mushroom is just an overgrown mushroom of another type (perhaps "button mushrooms"). Is that true, or are portabellos a specific genus?

Sep. 26 2008 01:39 PM
Julia from NYC

My great grandmother used to toss mushrooms gathered from alleys in Long Island City with silver dollars to determine their safety. Does silver react to poisonous mushrooms? No one every ate a bad one!

Sep. 26 2008 01:36 PM
Vince from Brooklyn


Does your guest have any thoughts on this posting from Paul Stamets' talk on 6 ways mushroom can save the world.


Sep. 26 2008 01:32 PM
EH from Inwood

I've heard that mushroom hunters can bring mushrooms to a pharmacist to check for poisonous ones. Is that still the case, or has that gone out-of-style along with full-service gas stations?

Sep. 26 2008 01:30 PM
Dorothy from NJ

Hello....Thanks to another member of NJMA, I heard about this broadcast. Hello Gary and Leonard. I was reading the comments, and was very excited to see the item from Karen in NJ. I love polypores and I would be pleased to hear more about Dr. Lowe. Perhaps Karen can make it to Fungus Fest on this Sunday or one of our club meetings to share her recollections. Some polypores are good edibles and others are used to dye wool. I use them to make craft paper of many colors. Come to the fair to find out. Thanks to Marc Grobman for the info on the club.

Sep. 26 2008 01:12 PM
nicole from Washington Heights

A friend of mine has mushrooms growing out of his bathroom ceiling. (There is an unresolved leak from the apartment upstairs.) Two different varieties of mushroom have appeared. One was about four inches long with a smooth, black top. The other was in the shape of a little pod. Does your guest have any idea what these could be?

Sep. 26 2008 01:05 PM
Marc Grobman from Fanwood, NJ

1. Leonard, you could ask Gary Lincoff to tell my favorite story of his: His mushroom hunting trip in Malaysia(?) where the women on the trip delighted in throwing off their habibs, and keeping track of whether it was legal to drink martinis or smoke marijuana.

2. What's in season: Two weeks ago, someone on an NJMA foray found Grifola frondosa (hen of the woods),so that season has begun! And yesterday I found a beautiful orange and yellow Laetiporus sulphureus (Chicken or Sulfur Shelf Musthroom). My favorite recipe: saute it, then mix it with mashed potatoes!
Regards, Marc Grobman

Sep. 26 2008 12:40 PM
Guido from New York City

In response to Erik's question from Harrsion. Check out online photos of either Hen of Woods or Oyster Mushrooms. Both grow on trees.

However info is still vague. Do not experiment, unless mushrooms are correctly identified. You might want to contact either the Connecticut Westchester Mycological Association
the NY Mycological Society

Sep. 26 2008 12:35 PM
lillym from NJ

My grandfather, a village man with amazing wisdom about everything, used to collect mushrooms in the woods and dry them in the sun. They were delicious. One day I asked if he was sure they were edible and he answered: All the mushrooms are edible, but some only once! For a long time after that I ate only mushrooms from the supermarket.

Sep. 26 2008 12:26 PM
Mike T from Manhattan

My partner and I recently harvested several pounds of big gorgeous mushrooms from the side of a local tree up in the catskills. We were elated, but our friends with whom we tried to share them were all hesitant. We've been enjoying cooking with them, but even then our friends are queasy--their loss.

So... we have more tasty mushrooms than the two of us can use and are wondering what the best way is to store them. Should go ahead and cook them all? Do they freeze? Is there a local NYC market that would buy the excess? How does one go about drying them, etc?

Sep. 26 2008 12:26 PM
Erik from Harrison, NY

Just to elaborate on what they look like, the fungi that grow on the oak trees are large, white or very light beige, and are made up of many "fans" growing on top of each other.

Sep. 26 2008 12:14 PM
Erik from Harrison, NY

I have two very old oak trees in my yard. When I first moved in, one fall day I was having breakfast and I noticed a man, who turned out to be my neighbor, snooping around my yard, and the park next door. I went outside to introudce myself and find out what he was doing. He was looking for "mushrooms" growing around the base of my trees.

He he is of Italian descent and went on to explain that many of the Italians in the area prized these large fungi that grow on oak trees in the neighborhood. I have since caught strangers in my yard harvesting them.

He told me how to cook them, by boiling for an hour with salt and vinegar and then cutting up and dredging in flour and frying in olive oil.

I've been reluctant to try these. Are these truly safe to eat and what are they actually called?

Sep. 26 2008 11:53 AM
karen from NJ

During my years as a graduate student at SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, I was privileged to have gone mushroom hunting many times in NY with the legendary mycologist, Dr. Josiah Lowe ( He was one of the professors who helped me turn a curiosity about fungi into a doctoral degree and a very rewarding career as a plant pathologist.

Sep. 26 2008 09:39 AM
Marc Grobman from Fanwood, NJ

Hi Leonard, and hello to guest Gary Lincoff, who's kindly addressed our group, the New Jersey Mycological Society many times.

You and he might want to mention our Fungus Fest, happening this Sunday, in Morristown, N.J. excerpts of the press release follow.
Regards, Marc Grobman, NJMA member


NJ Goes Wild for Wild Mushrooms at Fungus Fest 2008

What is a mushroom? Why are these strange-looking things growing in my lawn and garden? Are they poisonous? Are they edible? And what good are they? Answers to these and other questions will be found at Fungus Fest 2008, presented by the New Jersey Mycological Association on Sunday, September 28 at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Fungus Fest is a giant science fair of mushrooms. It includes extensive exhibits, mushroom art and photography, edible and poisonous mushroom information, how-to's on mushroom cultivation and cooking, presentations, medicinal uses of mushrooms, and demonstrations of papermaking and fabric dyeing using mushrooms. The event is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children.

The New Jersey Mycological Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about mushrooms and fungi. Information and directions are available at the The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is located at 53 East Hanover Avenue in Morristown, NJ.

Sep. 26 2008 08:52 AM

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