In a mild autumn there are still plenty of edible wild mushrooms and fungi that can be foraged for in November, as long as there are no hard frosts. Even after frost some species are still to be found and persist into December. It is surprising how many good edible fungi can be gathered in November so let us take a look at some of the best species.
Chanterelle mushrooms (Public Domain)
The Chanterelle (Canthrellus cibarius) is one of the most popular edible fungi and is quite common in some areas of woodland, especially in beech forests. It is a characteristic orange-yellow in colour, funnel0shaped and smells of apricots. It grows from July until December and is very popular as an edible wild mushroom that is often sold in delicatessens and markets in Europe. Be careful not to confuse it with the toxic False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) which is a darker orange colour and tends to grow under pines and on heaths.
Wood Hedgehog or Hedgehog Fungus
The Hedgehog Fungus (Hydnum repandum) gets its name from the downward pointing tiny spines or teeth that are found under its buff-coloured caps in the place of gills. Like its alternative name of Wood Hedgehog implies, it is found in woodland from August to November. It tastes bitter and needs to be boiled in water for a few minutes before further cooking or eating to remove the bitterness.
Parasol mushroom (Public Domain)
The Parasol Mushroom (Lepiota procera) is really one of the best edible fungi you can find when foraging. It is large, easy to identify and tastes great after cooking. It grows in fields, often near trees and in the margins of woods. Discard the woody stems and fry the caps or cook as ordinary mushrooms.
Fairy Ring Champignon
Fairy Ring Champignons in a French garden (Photo: Strobilomyces)
The Fairy Ring Champignon (Marasmius oreades) is an edible mushroom that grows as its name suggests in rings. It can be found on lawns and on short grassland. There are often many of these fungi in a "fairy ring." This wild mushroom dries well and is good for storing. It has a slight almond fragrance.
Ceps and other Boletus species
Cep (Public Domain)
The Cep or Edible Boletus (Boletus edulis) is a very well-known and popular edible fungus. It is distinctive with its "penny bun" cap and spongy gills. It is quite common in mixed woodland and also grows in grass near trees. It can be found from August to November on good years. There are many other smaller boletus species, many of which are edible but, as with all wild fungi. you need to be sure of identification. This is where a good fungus guidebook, such as Peter Jordan's Field Guide to Edible Mushrooms of Britain and Europe comes in handy.
Lepista personata near Sofia, Bulgaria (Photo: Paffka)
The Field Blewit (Lepista personata) is a fairly large edible wild mushroom that grows in fields and pastures where its brownish caps can be hard to see if they are among fallen leaves. The stout stems underneath the caps give the fungus its name though because they have a bluish shade to them. It can be found from October to December and was a very popular wild mushroom in the Midlands are of Britain at one time. These fungi are reminiscent of tripe when cooked. Although generally regarded as good to eat this fungus has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.
The closely related and very similar Wood Blewit (L. nuda) has a slimmer stem and more of a blue or violet-purplish colour. Like its name suggests it is found in woods. It grows at the same time of year and is also edible
Dried Wood Ears (Public Domain)
The Wood Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) used to be known as the Jew's Ear but in these days of political correctness its name has been changed to Judas Ear or Wood Ear. And it is aptly named because these weird fungi really do looks like ears. They are fleshy, clammy to the touch and pinkish-brown and shaped like ears. They grow on the old branches of elder. This fungus survives freezing temperatures and can be found all year around, though it is at its best in October and November. It dries well and can be used in soups and stews. They are very popular in Chinese cuisine.
There are actually many more edible fungi that can be found in November so why not get a good book about foraging or edible fungi, a book such as Richard Mabey's Food For Free, and go out and see what you can find?