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Eat: in abundance; picking mushrooms in Norway

If you find yourself wandering through a random forest in Norway between late August and late October, chances are you'll stumble upon a plethora of mushrooms, many of which are edible and many grow in abundance. Much like many, I've become utterly addicted to the pursuit and picking of mushrooms. In other words, that part of my brain where reward is exchanged for a dopamine shot now understands that finding mushrooms equals a dose of happiness.

To cut a long story short, discovering a large group of orange-yellow chanterelles after half an hour of searching is incredibly satisfying. And it's not just about the joy of discovery; the taste is phenomenal. Most edible mushrooms also come with a host of health benefits, but more on that later.

Mushroom Norway Forest

The purpose of this piece is to share some more tips and trics on picking mushrooms in Norway, harvesting etiquette, and a few tools to make foraging in the woods easier and more rewarding. Admit it, how delightful is it to eat your own picked mushrooms while camping?

My preferred mushrooms, commonly found in Norway, include chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms, funnel chanterelle and porcupine mushroom. While there are general guidelines on where to find them, luck plays a significant role. I've discovered most chanterelles near coniferous trees, on sparser ground, or in the forest amidst grass.

When mushroom hunting, you don't need to be a mycology professor to distinguish between edible and non-edible varieties. This incredibly handy booklet written by Danish mushroom professor Jens H. Petersen, provides detailed descriptions of edible mushrooms and their look-alikes (which might be toxic). It has been invaluable because doubts can sometimes creep in, especially when hearing tales of organ failure two days after consuming a certain mushroom. However, fear not; sticking to mushrooms that have no resemblance to anything harmful keeps you on the safe side.

If in doubt, you can even download this app. Upload a photo of the mushroom, and you'll receive an immediate message about its edibility or if you should steer clear.

Apart from the joy of searching and finding mushrooms, there's another crucial reason to elevate mushroom foraging to a hobby—its benefits for your body and health. Mushrooms are a low-calorie food packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They're recognized as a vital part of a healthy diet. UV-exposed mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, crucial for bone and immune health.

Cremini mushrooms are an excellent source of zinc, vital for the immune system and optimal growth in infants and children. Mushrooms contribute to lowering blood pressure due to their potassium content, countering the negative effects of sodium. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory properties boost the efficiency of the immune system, thanks to high levels of selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B6.

Studies have shown that, in combination with exercise and lifestyle changes, mushrooms can aid weight loss. Antioxidants in mushrooms may enhance cells' defense systems, protecting against obesity-related issues. Mushrooms, rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants, may reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

For harvesting and storing mushrooms, it's handy to bring a knife and a brush. Cut the mushroom close to the ground with the knife, and use the brush to clean off the soil. Carrying a net is also useful for allowing sufficient air circulation, keeping the mushrooms in good condition.

When I gather large quantities, I often dry them by laying them on parchment paper and letting them air dry or using a convection oven set to 50 degrees Celsius. Ensure the oven is slightly ajar to let the evaporated moisture escape. Once completely dry, store them in an airtight jar for use in fantastic risottos or pasta dishes througout the winter.

But there's a good chance you're out and about with a tent or camper. This means you'll likely devour your freshly picked mushrooms right away. I won't bore you with endless recipes, as others are far more adept at that. Instead, watch this video by the utterly charming chef Max Mariola and let yourself be inspired. Some toast, some salt and pepper, a slice of cured meat...mmmmm!


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