My Mother’s Mushrooms

Author: helga


My mother came to our Canadian farm from Germany. What she knew about wild plants was what she recognized from home.  Our land was abundant with mushrooms but my mother only allowed us to pick and eat one particular kind.  Now when I am surround by an abundance of mushrooms that is the only one I recognize as edible. I loved mushrooms as a child. If I found one mushroom in the woods I would bring it home and beg my mother to cook it. My only connection to the knowledge of what is growing in my back yard is through my mother who came from another country and was not at all familiar with what grows here. Apparently this is also the official mushroom of Alberta. Who knew?

As an adult I cooked the white mushrooms from the grocery store the same way my mother had (fried up in butter) but they didn’t taste the same. For years I thought there was something wrong with my cooking technique. Only when I tried Portabella mushrooms did I realize that it was the mushroom that made the difference, not the cooking. Portabella mushrooms have a flavour somewhat closer to that of wild mushrooms.

Mushrooms are an amazing wild food growing everywhere. We’re missing out on both the taste and nutrition. Because some of them are poisonous and knowledge is important we have dismissed them as a food source. Interesting that here we are in the age of information. Information on any subject is available to us from anywhere in the world and we do not understand what is safe for us to eat in our own backyard.

Hands on learning about what’s growing in our neighborhoods and forests is available through the Alberta Mycological Society.   They host many events every year where we have the opportunity for mushroom hunting and real life hands on learning.

If you have any interest in wild mushrooms at all, the Mushroom Exposition at the Devonian Gardens is worth going to. They provide a day of educational talks, displays of a multitude of local mushrooms, both edible and not.  Deliciously prepared samples are available as well. This year it’s held on Sunday August 18. Mark your calendar.

People might assume because mushrooms don’t look like vegetables they don’t’ have much nutrition, but this is not true at all.  Mushrooms contain protein and a significant assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D.  Wild mushrooms have been used for their medicinal effects by traditional societies for thousands of years. I suspect there may still be many undiscovered health and medicinal effects. Especially since mushrooms differ so widely in their chemical characteristics.

Mushrooms are an important ingredient in today’s cancer research.  This  informative post by Jennifer Molnar talks about the biology and medical effects of mushrooms. I’m definitely  going to be adding more mushrooms to my food.


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