Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mushroom Picking in a Fairy Forest

Last Saturday, I set off with 2 friends by bicycle on a mushroom-picking adventure.

plockar svamp = mushroom picking

As a native Stockholmer, Joakim was the guide for Lauren and I, both American, who had no experience of mushrooms other than eating them. Here in Sweden, mushroom picking is an art, and people are often quite protective of their 'mushroom spots.' Luckily, Joakim was willing to share the intricacies of mushroom picking with us, of which there are many.

After a 30+ minute bike ride, mostly uphill, we found ourselves in a forest in the middle of Nacka (east of central Stockholm) near Sandasjön, or Sand Lake. The forest was incredibly beautiful - the perfect setting for a fairy tale - with sunshine filtering through leafy, moss-covered trees and a carpet of bright green ferns on the ground.

We first came upon a fresh spring, where we stocked up on water and found our first canterelle mushrooms - quite a delicacy. They were orange-brownish, and teeny tiny, nestled in damp spots beside rocks or between roots of trees. Prepared with knives, brushes, and picture books, we continued through the forest and along the way, tried to gain some idea of the mushrooms which were edible and the ones which were deadly. 

Our picnic lunch on a secluded dock re-energized us halfway through, after which we did our best to keep our "mushroom eyes" sharp. The treasure hunt peaked when I spotted a patch of canterelles which seemed to continue on and on. We gathered everything in site, and then headed back to our bikes.

Bags were slightly heavier on the downhill bike ride back to town, where we divvied up our booty. At home, I laid out my share on newspaper to dry only to discover after a couple days, most of them were full of worms. [I won't post the video Nik made of these worms] I'm not sure where I went wrong, but these creatures were most unwelcome in our apartment, and I promptly disposed of all but the canterelles, which I managed to salvage sans worms. However, in drying, the canterelles had shrunk to what amounted to only about 3 bites. Unfortunately, these 3 bites were burned and ended up tasting like fried crunchiness.

Never before have I made such a great effort for so little food - and never have I had more fun in doing so. I now am coming to understand the deep complexities of mushrooms, and will never again take for granted any food that contains this fungi - just as soon as I can manage to eat them again!


  1. Oh no! Too bad it went wrong with the mushrooms :( But why did you dry them if you were going to eat them soon? I usually dry the mushrooms only if I have a lot of them and I want to eat them after a year or something.

    I want to go mushroom picking as well!!!

  2. That was the best mushroom story I have ever heard, with the most suprising & sad ending!

  3. I know, it was sad about the worms, but also a lot of fun to do it! Next time I don't think I'll dry them, but yea, that's what I heard was the best thing to do... hopefully I'll get another try this season : ) Thanks for reading!

  4. Katie,

    Which mushrooms make you small and which muschrooms make you big???

    Enjoyed your mushroom adventure!


  5. What a pity!! I'm currently on a gap year and in Stockholm at the moment. Would looove to go mushroom picking but have no experience at all - are there any type of tours that one can go on or does one have to go with a local? It's something I'd really like to do before I leave.