Edible vs Poisonous Mushrooms – What Is The Difference?

Overview

Mushrooms are one of the most striking and intriguing vegetation in the world – highly regarded for their nutrient composition. All mushroom varieties are characterized by beautiful forms and shapes. Though some have medicinal properties, others are poisonous and lethal.

Picking of mushrooms is steadily becoming a hobby for many people, often for food but also for recreation. We hope that this course will guide you in taking up this activity too.

Realize that many poisonous mushrooms will resemble edible mushrooms from other climatic zones of the world. Hence, it’s paramount that you are certain those you pick for food are harmless beyond any reasonable doubt. This article will focus on helping you distinguish edible mushrooms from the otherwise poisonous mushrooms.

[Editor’s note: Please consult a local knowledgeable expert and/or guidebook before attempting mushroom picking! You health and safety are nothing to be taken lightly as choosing the wrong mushroom can be potentially lethal.]

Types of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are classified into two broad categories: edible mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms.

  1. Edible Species

People normally have diverse reactions to the foods they ingest – this fact holds true for mushroom consumption. What may be edible for some people may not be necessarily edible to everyone. North America is known to be home to approximately 250 mushroom species. Edible mushrooms are those that pose no health issues whatsoever when consumed.

The safest way to identify edible from poisonous mushrooms is via accurate verification of their specie by an expert collector. Though books are an acceptable alternative means towards identification of edible mushroom species, it can occasionally prove catastrophic. Empirical identification methods such as smell and taste can be extremely dangerous as some poisonous mushrooms could exhibit a pleasant smell and taste.

  1. Poisonous Species

Poisonous mushroom species are those that cause health complications when ingested. Their mere resemblance to edible mushroom varieties has in numerous occasions confused mushroom collectors. In some cases an unwitting victim does not exhibit symptoms of poisoning immediately after consumption, but often shows up after 48 hours. Symptom severity, however, varies from case to case.

Poisonous mushrooms can lead to death within 3 to 6 days after ingestion. As such, it is very important that the victim seek medical attention immediately. Mushroom poisoning symptoms include dizziness, breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Some of the most poisonous mushroom species include the death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, Amanita virosa (the destroying angel), Amanita muscaria (the fly Agaric) and Cortinariusrubellus.

Identification of the different mushroom species

There exist numerous methods for the identification of mushrooms and all methods should be employed when out foraging. The criteria include:

  • Do the mushrooms possess distinct smell?
  • Do the mushrooms change their colour when bruised or cut?
  • What is the shape, texture, color and size of the cap?
  • What is the shape, texture and size of the stem? Does the mushroom have a skirt/ring and are there any visible markings on it? Is the base narrow, bulbous, sack-like or rooting?
  • Do the mushrooms have any pores, gills, or spikes under their cap? If gills are present, how close are they? Do they fork? Are they linked to the stem? Are they soft or pliable and brittle?
  • What is the flesh texture? Texture (soft, brittle covered with hairs).
  • At what time and season of the year is it?

Remember to always confirm with various pictures and guides as mushrooms can appear different in regard to their age, the locale they grow, as well as the type of climate they grow in.

Difference between Toadstools and Edible Mushrooms

Although some varieties of mushrooms out there are edible, others are highly poisonous and lethal; however, there exist no hard and fast rules or test through which one can safely discern the poisonous varieties other than accurate identification of the species.

Most people are familiar with the common mushroom varieties since these are the edible mushrooms that are readily available for purchase at the supermarket and grocery. You may not necessarily go out looking for mushrooms in the wild, but many people are known to identify, collect and ingest wild mushrooms. Again, only people with appropriate knowledge and training in mushroom identification should collect and consume mushrooms from the wild.

There are so many factors one need to take into consideration when trying to identify mushrooms in the wild. In this guide, we will go through mushroom identification process regarding their habitat, spores, gills and much more.

Typically, physical characteristics (such as color and shape) are the first attributes one will notice. Upon successful examination of these mushroom traits, the identification process becomes much easier and usually straightforward.

We’ve categorized the main mushroom characteristics into four broad sections: the toxins, habitat, physical characteristics, and the smell.

Toxins

The main difference between the edible and toadstool mushrooms is the toxins present in the latter. These toxins are naturally produced by the fungi, and no known mechanism of toxic removal, including cooking, canning or freezing work for mushroom toxins.

Mushroom toxins are usually sub-divided into four broad categories including.

  1. Protoplasmic toxins – poisons that destroy body cells, and eventually cause organ failure.
  2. Neurotoxins – compounds that lead to various neurological symptoms like hallucinations, excessive sweating, coma, convulsions, a spastic colon and depression.
  3. Gastrointestinal irritants – cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  4. Disulfiram-like toxins that only exhibit symptoms if and only if alcohol is consumed (within three days after consumption); the victim will usually experience a short-lived acute toxic syndrome.

Habitat

Where does the mushroom grow? Is it growing on trees or grassland? What kind of tree are they growing atop or under? Are they growing in a ring or singly, tuft or troop?

Edible mushrooms typically grow in lawns or open paddocks and not under shrubs or trees like the toadstool varieties. Amanitas, for example, start appearing in fall and summer, especially on the floor of woodlands. They are quite common in most places.

Physical Characteristics

The following is a detailed list of some of the common physical characteristics that distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous ones:

  1. Warts or scales on the cap.

These are universal veil’s remnants that encompass the mushroom while it is young. Sometimes these patches look more like rows of raised dots.

Edible mushrooms have smooth and more or less white caps with no visible or noticeable raised warts or scales. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms, for instance, the toxic fly agaric have a different colored cap (usually red with white spots) which has conspicuous scales and raised lumps.

  1. Cap shape.

Most of the edible mushrooms have bun-shaped or convex caps and sometimes with a wide low-hump. Other edible mushrooms such as chanterelles have caps that are concave and wavy or even trumpet-shaped. Poisonous species, however, have convex caps while young and flattens as the mushroom matures.

The cap of many edible mushrooms stretches from the stem as it grows developing a ring of tissue around the stem also known as the annulus. Toadstools or poisonous varieties do not have this ring around the stem.

  1. Base Stem.

Some mushrooms have a rounded cup commonly referred to as the “volva”, which is a universal veil remnant. To observe the swollen base clearly you may have to dig up the mushroom as it’s usually under the ground.

The base of the stem of edible mushrooms is narrow or not thick like the rest of the stalk. On the other hand, many poisonous mushrooms usually have a noticeably swollen base. The Amanita muscaria, for instance, has a bulbous base.

  1. Spore print

A spore print is an important diagnostic trait for identifying mushrooms. Identifying the color of the spore print can be very helpful as it helps you distinguish the different mushroom varieties. The color of mushroom spore can range from white to black and many other shades depending on the mushroom species. Some of the common poisonous mushrooms such as Amanita have white-colored spore prints.

You can easily obtain a spore print for color-testing by removing the stem and putting the mushroom gills on a dark or white piece of paper for several hours. Once you know the color of the spore refer to a mushroom guide to know the exact species and its edibility.

  1. Gills

Another distinctive feature is the size and color of the mushroom’s gills. You will find most of the edible mushrooms with gills attached to the cap and not to the stalk. This means that the gills will stay attached to the cap even when the stalk is removed from the mushroom’s base. The poisonous mushroom’s gills, however, are attached to the stalk and will remain there even after you’ve removed it from the base.

The gills on the cap of a young edible mushroom cap are usually pink in colour. However, the pink colour changes as the mushroom mature to brown or black. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms have white gills that do not change colour throughout their entire lifecycle.

Smell

Another common difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms is their smell. Some mushrooms have distinct smells or a unique smell which can help you to distinguish species that are visually similar. Some of the edible mushrooms, for instance, the Chanterelles have a distinctive fruity smell like apricots. Some of the poisonous species such as Agaricus xanthodermus, commonly known as the yellow-staining mushroom are known for their almond scent.

When you are testing for odors, crush a part of the mushroom’s cap for best results. Many mushrooms lack a smell, while others have quite a distinctive odor; thus, make sure you have a local mushroom guidebook to cross-reference.

Also, you need to keep in mind that not all mushrooms with odors give a certain smell of something as most of them have vague descriptions like “farinaceous,” meaning consisting of or containing starch.

How to Avoid Poisoning

To prevent mushroom poisoning you must be knowledgeable in the various mushroom identification methods when collecting mushrooms.

Remember that there is no simple cut-and-dry method or set identifiable features to distinguish poisonous mushrooms from edible ones; thus, once you collect mushrooms, never mix the two species, and only consume the edible mushrooms that are healthy and in good condition.

Always preserve your edible mushrooms by properly refrigerating them, and discard any mushroom you are in doubt about whether it is edible or non-edible.

Although there are numerous poisonous species, knowing how to properly identify the various mushrooms species will help to keep you from getting sick and even to enjoy your new mushroom foraging hobby.

The bottom line

There are numerous mushroom species and knowing the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms can be a daunting task. Some mushrooms are edible and delicious, while others will give you a nasty tummy upset… maybe even lead to death. Please equip yourself with the right information and always take proper precautions when you are on the lookout for edible mushrooms.

Last, never taste a mushroom to identify whether it’s poisonous or edible because some poisonous species taste good, yet they’re deadly. Instead, remember to check on the unique physical characteristics, smell, and the habitat in which the mushroom grows to establish whether it’s safe for consumption or not.

Author Bio: Hi there, I am Jason Shiflet from HuntingPleasures.com – a website help people exchange knowledge about hunting pleasures!

5 Best Tactical Knife Edge Grinds For Survival

Today I would like to talk about the most common tactical knife edge grind types that you are likely to see and encounter when buying a knife.

The knife edge grinds types depicted above are the most common on the market today and you are likely to have seen some or most of them and maybe not have know it. Regardless, I will explain each one so that you will have a good foundation of best tactical knife blade grind types when we’re done.

1. The Scandinavian Tactical Knife Grind

The Scandinavian tactical knife grind is just about the simplest knife grind there is to understand and also, in my opinion, the easiest blade type to sharpen, especially for those who do not have a lot of sharpening experience or knowledge.

In the world of knife sharpening there are lots of confusing terms like primary edge and secondary edge, or primary and secondary grinds or even the infamous back bevel and then primary edge. This terminology can get confusing for many people. Hence, the Scandinavian tactical knife grinds.

It is the simplest of knife grinds because there is no primary edge and then a secondary edge, or back bevel and primary edge as some would say. A knife produced with the Scandinavian grind only has one grind. Take a look at the image shown below:

 The Scandinavian tactical blade grind is generally set at around twenty-five degrees or twelve points five degrees per side of the blade although this can vary slightly depending on the maker/producer of the Scandinavian grind type knife. Many American makers are starting to produce “Scandi” ground blades these days for ease of use and re-sharpening.

The Scandinavian ground blade is a great blade that I highly recommend for beginning and intermediate woodsmen and campers alike. One of the best features of this type of knife grind is the width of the grind itself which lends itself to being easily re-sharpened. Other types of knife grinds with a thinner profile can actually be harder to sharpen/re-sharpen in the field as it might be difficult to determine the correct angle to reshape the knife with.

Being that it is so wide of an angle you just take the Scandi-ground knife and lay it flat on the stone or sharpening medium of your choice and then take your finger and press the blade (the primary cutting edge) down against the stone which will elevate the spine of the blade and… there you have it the correct angle in which to re-sharpen a Scandinavian ground knife!

If you look at a Scandinavian ground knife you will see that it looks very much like the edge of a samurai sword or even like the grind of a Japanese sushi knife. Both the samurai sword and the sushi knife are what is known as “zero grind” knives. By this, I mean that there is no secondary bevel that has been created on the Scandi grind. So for all intents and purposes, the Scandinavian ground knife is a “zero ground” blade.

The idea of the Scandinavian knife grind, therefore, is to avoid creating a “secondary bevel” or secondary grind. The Scandinavian knife grind is an excellent grind for all kinds of chores, it stays sharp a good long time and is easy to re-sharpen.

Now, there are times where one might hear this argument about the Scandi ground knife and it goes like this: Some people may tell you that over time and over many sharpenings that the grind itself may become convex in nature. This has never happened to me and I have carried and used Martini and Isaaki Finnish Puukko knives in the field for years and have never had the problem of the blade going convex on mine.

Any “convexation” or form of “wire edge” above the main grind that would occur should and would be “lopped” off of the blade when properly resharpened. Take my word for it, the Scandinavian ground knife is a must have for any  outdoorsman at any skill level.

2. The Tactical Knife Hollow Grind

The tactical hollow ground knife blade style is one that many people have seen and may not have realized that it is a hollow ground knife. It is one of the most common types of knife grinds available today. You may have seen it on a standard Buck 110 folding hunter as this knife is very popular and has been around for years and years.

The hollow grind utilizes a profile that is concave in nature for the main grind of the knife blade (see image below). In my humble life and experience with knives, most if not all hollow ground tactical knives that I have seen have a secondary bevel that leads to a primary cutting edge. This is commonly referred to as a V grind.

Now, in many eyes the hollow grind style of blade making is considered to be a “weak” knife grind because of the fact that as you follow the grind from the beginning of the following process to the cutting edge of the blade it gets thinner and thinner the closer you get to the primary cutting edge.

Well, this is a good thing in my humble opinion as this type of blade grind lends itself to excellent skinning capabilities and if sharpened correctly is just a good all around cutting edge type of grind.

Now, like I said some people might find that a hollow ground knife is weak as there is less metal toward the primary cutting edge, but that is preferable in some cases. In my opinion, the hollow grind, if done right, is excellent blade geometry for cutting chores of all types and because the blade is thinner towards the primary cutting edge, if you utilize the proper sharpening stone or other sharpening apparatus then re-sharpening should be a breeze too.

3. The Tactical Knife Full Convex Grind

The full convex knife grind is the opposite of the hollow grind tactical knife type. If you look at a knife blade that is ground in the convex style you will be hard pressed to find a level of any type of the blade. In many cases you could even say that it looks like a “zero grind” or even a fat “Scandinavian grind” but it is a convex grind. (see image below):

The convex knife grind utilizes a continuous curve that starts at the spine of the blade and goes all the way down to the primary cutting edge of this blade grind type.

If you look closely, you will find that there is no flat area or secondary grind to this blade type and that is why many people might confuse this blade grind type with a “zero” grind or even a “Scandi” grind type. I personally do not find this type of blade grind useful for most cutting chores that I might need to accomplish, as I do prefer the ease of use of a “Scandi” blade grind or even a hollow ground blade.

4. The High Flat Tactical Knife Grind

The high flat tactical knife grind style is a grind style where the primary grind of the blade is flat (see image below). This type of grind starts closer to the spine of the knife and works its way down to the primary cutting edge of the blade:

Now, there are times when things can get a bit confusing with it comes to flat ground knives. The issue of confusion is the secondary bevel of the flat ground knife. The secondary bevel can be a “V” grind or a convex grind or even some form of a compound knife grind which is merely a grind of multiple angles of a “V” grind that looks a lot like a convex grind and is a grind type that most people who carry knives on a daily basis will not use or see in most production and custom folders or tactical fixed blade knife.

There are issues with this type of blade grind as lots of folks will get confused when some guy will say that they have put a convex edge on the blade that they are using at the time. Well, this is just a matter of proper knife grind education as it is just about impossible to put a convex grind on a high flat ground tactical knife. It would take a miracle to accomplish and I have not seen miracles of this kind in thirty years of being in the cutlery business.

What many of these guys are talking about is actually putting a secondary bevel on a convex blade grind which, in my humble opinion and to be nice, is not what you are supposed to do with a convex grind. It is convex, so leave it convex.

5. The Tactical Knife Full Flat Grind

The full flat tactical knife grind is similar to a high flat knife grind type and the only difference is that the flat ground knife blade type has a grind that is ground all the way to the top of the spine of the blade (see image below). This knife grind type has no flat portion of the blade nearest to the spine. The full flat ground tactical blade type utilizes a grind that is a single linear point from the spine of the blade all the way down to the secondary bevel of the knife. This secondary beveling can be of many types, such as “V” grinds and convex or compound just as with the high flat grind:

So there you have it, folks, the basic knife grinds employed today by most production and custom knife makers alike.

There are even more types of knife grinds available out there and many of them I will not detail here as they are employed in industrial uses and some others are used in certain types of arts and crafts.

What we have covered, however, should clear up knife edges for the everyday guy or gal who carries a pocket knife or fixed blade knife, or perhaps for the average knife collector. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Author Bio:

I am Lyle E. Holmes, knife enthusiast and geologist, co-founder of The Tactical Knives blog. Follow me here with world’s best tactical knives review, tips and tricks.

One Year In Hell: Wartime In Bosnia

Could you imagine living through something like this? Amazingly, it was ONLY one year “in hell” during wartime in Bosnia in the early 90’s but the experience must have felt like an eternity.

If this real life account is even remotely accurate (I’ve heard similar stories, though) it must have been a horrible experience to be sure. Of course, I could only imagine what such a situation might be like here in America and while I don’t agree with everything being recommended, most of it is probably good advice to heed.

I noticed that sometimes the audio goes out randomly (including abruptly at the end) but overall the video is understandable enough. The moral: get yourself prepared now while you still can…

When Was The Last Time Your Cooked A Meal From Scratch?

Cooking From Scratch,
Image Credit

A while back–over Easter, I think–we had a conversation with my kids about cooking food, in part because the topic came up, but also because my oldest is growing up and needs to realize that making meals is more than just opening a can of soup and calling it good.

Honestly, he actually is interested in learning to cook which is a good thing because he certainly likes to eat, lol.

Back to our conversation… my wife and I began to explain how easy it is to make meals these days. For instance, he loves something called “green bean casserole” which is little more than some green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and shredded cheese combined and cooked in the oven.

Anyway, we tried to explain that making a meal “back in the day” (before modern canning, for example) consisted of way more than just opening a few cans to make your meals. It took a lot of work! Which is probably why women stayed home… it was a full time job. No doubt we’re spoiled in modern society if for no other reason than modern canning.

Just trying to make this green bean casserole from scratch would have been a big ordeal. For instance, the green beans would had to have been picked, snapped, washed, cooked, and then maybe cut into smaller pieces.

I’ve never attempted to make homemade cream of mushroom soup but it’s obvious that mushrooms would had to have been picked, washed, sliced and cooked. It appears that onions and garlic and involved too, along with some more cooking, as well as chicken broth, and flour. Heck, just making bread from scratch is bad enough (here’s a great recipe I’ve used many times).

All that work and we’re not even done yet! The shredded cheese involves a lot more planning as this article points out and far more work than I would be willing to give it, not to mention the waiting involved for the cheese to form. Honestly, I would have just skipped the cheese by now. 🙂

Granted, I know it wouldn’t have been quite this hard. Our ancestors would have canned foods and planned well in advance but, if we’re talking about making a meal from absolute scratch, it’s a lot of work to be sure.

Ultimately, that example was just one side dish. We didn’t even mention the mashed potatoes made from “scratch” (meaning we had to cut and cook the potatoes rather than making the boxed version), or the meat that somebody else had processed–that is, killed, plucked, and cleaned)–or the bread which was already made… you get the idea.

Like I said above: our modern society has us spoiled. I’m not complaining, I’m just worried that when the canned foods run out nobody will know what to do… me included, lol. Seems you and I had best stock up on our canned goods or learn how to cook and eat very, very differently.

How To Use A Lensatic Compass (link)

How To Use A Lensatic Compass, Image Credit

Ever wonder how to read one of those fancy lensatic compasses? Well, wonder no more… here’s a tutorial on using them, including several videos:

“Use of GPS and cell phones now makes finding oneself around a strange city simple and quick. You can punch in an address and whether on foot, bicycle or in an auto, you get exact directions to get where you want to go. However, it wasn’t so long ago people got by with the help of the Earth’s magnet field, a map, and a Lensatic compass…”

Read the full article here

Forget An Inverter, Use These For Most Efficient DC Power Conversion (video)

These buck and boost converters he’s talking about might be a great investment considering they’re relatively inexpensive, especially if you’re needing to power low-voltage DC powered devices. And considering that you’d be running your DC equipment as efficiently as possible (because you wouldn’t be using an inverter to convert battery power to AC and then back to DC) this makes some sense. Last, like he says there are many options available, just do a search but here’s one he recommends