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Mushrooms in Lithuania (well, some of them)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Considering the fact that I aim to present and represent Lithuania to my foreign audience, I cannot but write about a special activity that Lithuanians love-picking mushrooms. Now, you would say, what does one need to know about it? Because many countries have only few kinds of mushrooms in their shops, most of which  are imported goods, while we have about 400 edible varieties, out of which we mainly use 30. 

Let's begin with the king of our forests, the dream of every forager: the edible boletus.


Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boletus_edulis

We like them dried in hot borsch in winter, with herring, or in sauces. It's important to distinguish it from its fake cousin, so called Thunder Boletus, which has a pinkish inner side of the cap instead of white and sometimes the only way to know the difference is to lick them, so if you found the Thunder variety, you are soon to know :-)



The Boletus has many good relatives, though:

Image source: http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikrasis_raudonvir%C5%A1is (c) Tomas Čekanavičius.
The red birch boletus is probably the second-best boletus in the category. Typically recognized from their red to orange caps. It loves birches, hence the name.

Image source: http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raudonvir%C5%A1is

The faint boletus could be a good name to this type rather than its real name of the mottled boletus. It's an easy to find mushroom, more frequent than the edible boletus but very popular with slugs and becomes a kind of dough with proper rain. Best to be picked when young, so it stays crunchy.

Image source: http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slidukas (c) Jerzy Opioła
The slippery Jack. It's a slimy one, so it's a bit of work to peel the skin from its cap as everything sticks to it. Prone to worms and cannot stand heat, has short-life span due to those two reasons. It likes growing in the pine areas and open meadows. 


The second most desired to find mushroom is the chantarelle.

Image source:http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voverait%C4%97 (c) Strobilomyces


This mushroom is an absolute good because it worms don't eat it. Beats me why, but it's always good and fit to pick. Best cooked slightly boiled and then fried with some lard and sour cream, boiled potatoes as a side dish. Mmmm...delicious!

Image source: http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valgomasis_bobausis(c) Severine Meißner

I personally have recently discovered this variety.  Let's call it the strange brain looking mushroom for now . It does have a slightly poisonous side but it comes off in the process of preparation, usually being boiled 4 times or so. I believe this to be a very popular mushroom in France. In Lithuania we have two similar mushrooms, the morel and the false morel (in the photo).

The field mushroom is widely grown abroad artificially in special conditions like in darkness and on-pardon me- farm animal, esp. horse, droppings. Here it usually grows in meadows and open forest spaces. Best place to pick abroad- a supermarket :-)


Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agaricus_campestris (c) Nathan Wilson
Now, this is interesting. This scale cap looking mushroom is called the safransirmik and looks like a poisonous one, but in fact it is not. It's edible and very delicious when fried on butter. If you eat it raw, it tastes like nuts. Grows in difficult to access places, not far from landfills, etc.

Image source: http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sk%C4%97tin%C4%97_%C5%BEvynabud%C4%97 (c) Lilly M

Now, this is the toadstool which is poisonous and can be deadly. Europe knows about 100 deadly mushroom species, Lithuania knows more than 60.

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/6/178

I'll just stop here, having covered the main thins. So, how has your forager career been so far? Also, check out this mushroom guide in English: http://www.naturephoto-cz.com/mushrooms.html

Ele


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