Anna Clayton column

Lancaster Guardian columnist, Anna Clayton.
Lancaster Guardian columnist, Anna Clayton.

Mushrooms are great. They are rich in protein, Vitamin B, selenium, copper, phosphorous and potassium.

They are also low in fat, carbohydrates and calories.

You’ll often see me in Autumn traipsing around St. Williams Park, football fields, small parks and woods hunting for the little beauties.

You have to be sure that what you are picking is edible and not poisonous, so getting a good book for identification is a must.

First rule of picking mushrooms: if you are not sure – do not eat it.

Always check and double check.

You should also make a spore print to help identify them.

Having said that, even going out just to find some is great fun and the best time of year is from late July through to November if the weather stays mild enough.

The Shaggy Ink Cap is quite a distinctive mushroom and is found in grassy fields, parks and gardens. It starts to dissolve into a black inky mess after a few hours, (its way of releasing spores), so speed is of the essence for you to get it back home and on your plate.

I’ve found that cooking it is not that successful and the best way is to chop it up and add it to a salad.

The Glistening Ink Cap is also edible and a good addition to omelettes.

You can also try the Common Ink Cap, but be careful.

Drinking alcohol before and after eating a Common Ink Cap can cause a bad reaction.

Oyster mushrooms are distinctive in shape and can grow from trees and fallen branches.

These are good in a stir-fry. Common Field mushrooms are easily recognised but be careful as these can be mistaken for similar looking poisonous ones.

Wood Blewits are delicious and have a beautiful lilac colour.

A friend of mine found some growing in her garden one Autumn, growing from a patch she had had covered with mushroom compost.

They are wonderful fried and eaten on toast.

Ceps, also known as Penny Bun, Porcino, or King Bolete, can be found on the ground in woods.

They are good to eat with pasta and in risotto.

St. George’s Mushroom is unique in that they grows in Spring, not Autumn, and takes its name from St. George’s Day (April 23.)

Mushroom kits are a great way to grow your own at home.

There are a range of recipies you can use them in, including soups, stews and pies.

Have fun.