I know it’s a great mushroom-hunting year when even my myco-phobic friends are calling and asking me if they can eat some mushroom they’ve tripped over on a hike in the mountains.
The one that grabs most people is the Fly Agaric, the big red mushroom with white spots that shines forth from timberline down to where you see the first Aspens.
This mushroom is considered psychoactive by some people and poisonous by most. I once went to Siberia to confirm that it was once used by shamans there to produce altered states.
But still, I’d say it produces a poisoning effect that’s much like being sick, sweating, and feverish.
But you can boil off the poisonous agents, and eat Fly Agaric for lunch.
That’s what I did with my friends from Mile High Fungi this week. We had apples, cheese, crackers, pasta salad, and savoryish peach crumble, topped with tahini and sesame seeds.
And we ate fresh Fly Agaric, wild-caught in Colorado.
We chose a simple preparation for the mushrooms, first brushing and cutting the dirt off the stems and caps.
Then we put them in a pan and covered them with cold water. We brought it to a boil and poured off the liquid, catching the shrooms in a strainer. (The soluble poisons dissolve in the water, so don’t drink it!)
Then we covered them in the pan with a gallon or more of water, brought the water to a boil, and let it boil for 15 minutes.
We poured the water and Fly Agarics through a strainer once again. We dried them off, squeezing them a bit to push out the water.
We then cut them up in half-inch strips and decided to fry them in olive oil. You could use them in any mushroom recipe at this point, but we thought we’d just have them plain.
The texture holds up much better than you’d think, and the sauteed Fly Agarics were good, if perhaps over-fried in this case.
There was a slight nuttiness to them–a flavor I detected more the first time I ate them for food many years ago. With a little salt, you almost wanted to ruin them by dipping them in ketchup.
Anyway, there’s lots you could do with them in the kitchen once boiled.
But pay attention to this warning: Be extremely careful not to confuse this mushroom (Amanita muscaria) with whitish mushrooms in the same genus that could actually factually kill you. Be absolutely sure what you’re eating before you bite.
Some people insist that the Fly Agaric produces a fantastic psychedelic experience; you just have to mix it carefully with other stuff or process it properly, they say.
I’m open to most anything mushroom-wise but am not a convert.
So for now, you’ll find me boiling up my Fly Agaric and enjoying the thought that I found a way to eat a beautiful, abundant mushroom that would otherwise have put me in a poisoned state of consciousness.