Identifying Edible Wild Mushrooms

By Ruvimbo Jeche

The rains remind me so much of my Christmas holidays in Njanja. Picking wild mushroom was always my favorite moment back in our rural home, I would always want them for every meal. I enjoy/enjoyed their tastiness and now that I know that they are a good source protein, I’m gonna permanently add them to my favorite food list.
Sad thing my granny would not always allow me to go pick them for she would say we might get the poisnus ones. Indeed she was correct because the edibility of mushrooms should be treated with great care and for sure many deaths have been recorded caused by mushroom poisoning especially during the rainy season. Amanita zambiana (nhedzi) is the most popular and happens to be my favorite. Poisnus/ non edible mushrooms usually have tough context which makes them not popular with the locals. Good thing is some safety rules have been created to avoid consuming poisnus mushroom. These include;
*The blackening of silver spoon while cooking is supposed to show that the mushroom is poisnus.
*If the mushroom carries signs of damage by insects, then the mushroom is edible
*Feeding the mushroom to the chickens or dogs can show if they will die or become sick.
However, these are not guaranteed safety rules. The rule of thumb would be” if in doubt, leave the mushroom”.
Also important to note is that poisnus mushroom can be distinguished by;
*White gills
*presence of a ring
*presence of a volva
*warts on the surface of the cap.
If one finds three or more of these characters, then it is likely to be poisnus. However, some edible mushrooms also have either one or two of these features making an amateur mushroom picker to identify the poisnus ones. Thus don’t ingest any mushroom unless it has been property identified.
But now that I don’t frequent my rural home would interestingly not mean I wouldn’t enjoy them as much. Great news, we can produce them in our homes, not much space is even required and the conditions are in our control, anytime, any season. I’m talking about fungiculture here which is the cultivation of mushrooms and other fungi. Cultivating fungi can yield food, medicine, construction materials and other products. For a clearer glimpse on mushroom production, catch up with us tomorrow here on “VaDhumeni: goodhealthstartswithgoodnutrition”.

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