NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

Over 4,000 NJ Residents Wait For Organ Donation
Surgery Center, Hospital OR Employees Team Up for Lifesaving Care  

How to Forage Amanita Muscaria Sustainably and Safely 

Screenshot 2023-06-23 at 13.50.53

Foraging mushrooms is a rewarding pastime and one that is growing in popularity. However, it is a potentially risky activity if you do not understand how to distinguish fungi that are safe to consume from their poisonous cousins. 


One particularly tricky family is the genus Amanita. It contains numerous different mushrooms, some of which are delicious and others that are deadly. It also features one of the most recognizable mushrooms ever, Amanita muscaria.  


Also known as fly agaric, it is the quintessential fairytale toadstool, with its red spotted cap and reputed magical qualities. Many believe this mushroom is toxic, but it can have powerful psychoactive properties when prepared correctly. 


As more people learn the truth about this famous fungus, they may wonder how to forage it safely and sustainably. Here’s what you need to know.


Identifying Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms


Learning your target species’ identifying features is the most basic way to stay safe when foraging mushrooms. 


Fortunately, Amanita muscaria is difficult to confuse with anything else. That said, a couple of other mushrooms could look similar to the untrained eye. 


For example, some Russula species can have red caps and white stems, much like Amanita muscaria. However, they lack the frilly “skirt” and shaggy, swollen stem base crucial to amanita identification. 


Russula mushrooms also lack Amanita muscaria’s distinctive white “warts,” although these can wash off with heavy rain. Therefore, when identifying Amanita muscaria, it is essential to pay attention to every feature rather than just its brightly colored cap. 


Some of the key things to check for include: 


Season: Late summer - autumn

Habitat: Grows in association with trees, primarily birch and pine.

Habit: Scattered or small or large groups.

Height: Up to 8 inches (20cm)

Cap diameter: 3-8 inches (8-20cm)

Cap: Convex, then flat with age. Red with white warts that may be easily removed.

Gills: White, free from the stem

Stem: White, ¼-¾ inches (1-2cm) in diameter, with a white skirt and swollen, shaggy base.

Flesh: White with a yellowish tinge toward the center of the cap.

Spores: White

Taste/smell: Mild and pleasant


Collecting and Storing Amanita Mushrooms


Screenshot 2023-06-23 at 13.54.40

When collecting amanita mushrooms, hold them at the base and gently twist them to remove them from the ground. Brush off any dirt and bugs, and place them gently in a basket or mesh bag. 


These mushrooms do not keep well, so prepare them as quickly as possible or dry them for later use. If necessary, you can store them in a refrigerator for a day or two, wrapped in a paper (not plastic) bag. Avoid keeping mushrooms in the crisper compartment, as they need plenty of air circulation to stop them from going bad. 


To dry amanita mushrooms, cut them into evenly sized pieces, discarding any parts showing signs of decay. Then, spread them in a single layer in a dehydrator or a low oven with the door cracked open to allow air circulation. Once the mushrooms are cracker dry (which may take several hours), you can place them in airtight jars and store them for later. 


How to Forage Amanita Muscaria Sustainably 


Amanita muscaria has a vital ecological role, and it is important to leave behind enough to continue its life cycle. Although picking mushrooms does not damage the fungal organism itself, it does reduce the number of spores that can spread and start new populations elsewhere. 


Therefore, you should always forage responsibly and only take as many mushrooms as you need. As a general rule, conscientious foragers only take a maximum of 30% of the mushrooms they find and leave the rest for nature.


It is also essential to respect these mushrooms’ natural habitat by treading lightly and leaving things as you find them. Do not litter, start fires, or engage in other activities that may harm the delicate forest ecosystem.


Is It Legal to Pick Amanita Mushrooms?


Amanita muscaria is not a federally controlled substance, and it is legal to pick them in most states. The exception is Louisiana, which classifies these mushrooms as “hallucinogenic plants” and prohibits their use. 


Although it is not illegal to collect Amanita muscaria, many national parks discourage foraging in general. Therefore, you should check each park’s rules before heading out on a foray. It is also illegal to forage on private land without the landowner’s permission. 


If you want a safe and legal alternative to foraging, why not try amanita gummies? They are rapidly gaining popularity and allow consumers to enjoy these mushrooms’ effects without the hassle. 


You will find some of the best Amanita muscaria gummies for sale on VidaCap. Each batch is expertly crafted and lab tested for potency and purity, so you know you are getting a product you can trust.