How to Safely Go Mushroom Hunting in Mendocino

mushrooms growing on a tree in the damp forest

Mushrooms, while grown in dirt and often seen as nothing more than a humble fungus, are actually one of the most delicate and delicious organisms on earth. Their vast array of textures and ability to soak up multiple flavors has made them a coveted ingredient in many different kinds of cuisine. Restaurants in Mendocino County have taken advantage of their wonderful taste and earthy quality and have even found the secret to getting their hands on as many local varieties as possible. This secret is called mushroom hunting.

How to Hunt Your Own Mushrooms

According to research, about 80% of wild mushrooms come from the mossy floor of national forest lands, like the ones found here in Mendocino County. During peak seasons, more than 3,000 types of fresh mushrooms can be found in this area – and about 500 types are edible. Some varieties, however, can be dangerous. Many types of mushrooms in North America can make you sick, and some are even deadly if ingested. So how can you be sure which ones are safe to harvest when you go mushroom hunting?

Ask the Experts

The best plan for gathering and consuming your own mushrooms is to go on a tour with an experienced guide. On the Mendocino Edible Wild Mushroom Tour, guests can head into the woods to learn how to seek out edible mushrooms, identify poisonous varieties, and determine the type of climate ideal for ‘shroom growth. Local experts will tell you how certain varieties affect the body, and will explain the interesting biology behind this fascinating fungus. The tour is both fun and educational, and is a secure way to collect your own wild mushrooms without the risk of illness.

Taste the Difference

Another great way to get in touch with your inner fungi-lover is to attend the Mushroom, Wine, and Beer Festival. From November 6th through the 15th, mushroom dinners, wine and beer pairing workshops, cooking classes, and guided mushroom foraging tours showcase the magical season of mushrooms and provide guests with an entertaining and exciting experience.

At the festival, there will be mushroom exhibits daily where guests can learn about the natural history of the mushroom, and mushroom paddles where you can tour the Noyo river in search of wild mushrooms. Or, take a ride on the Mushroom Excursion Train where you will watch a mushroom cook-off, and see contestants submit their favorite fungi to the Largest Mushroom contest. You’ll be able to hunt your own mushrooms and ask experts about cooking tips and techniques, all while learning about this versatile dirt-dweller.

Try it Yourself!

Oyster, yellowfoot, black trumpet, and rare candy caps are just a few of the intriguing mushroom varieties you’ll be happy to find in Northern California. So skip the grocery store, and turn finding this fresh fungus into an adventure! During your mushroom hunting excursion, be sure to book a room at the Inns of Glendeven for a tranquil stay. In between hunts, the Inns of Glendeven offer beautiful rooms, ocean views, and acres of private gardens that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed after a wonderful day out in Mendocino.

Torrey Douglass