Mushroom mania!

The big sprout has begun – mushroom season is here on the Ritten.
Porcini, parasols and chanterelles – if you take a walk through the woods at the moment, you’re sure to come across a variety of mushrooms burgeoning forth alone and in clumps from the warm forest soil. Where should you pick them, which mushrooms should you steer clear of and how do you cook them? Here are all the most important things you need to know for a fabulous mushroom experience.

Who can pick mushrooms?
Generally speaking, everyone. However, there are a number of guidelines that mushroom pickers have to follow. Firstly, picking is only allowed on even-numbered days. Ritten locals are authorised pick two kilogrammes of mushrooms per day, while non-locals are allowed a maximum of one kilo per day. The latter must also pay a local council fee of €8 per day, payable in advance (status: 2020). Non-observance of these regulations may result in administrative penalties and a bitter punishment indeed: You may not take the mushrooms you have picked home with you.

Which mushrooms can you pick?
There are 6,000 different types of mushrooms in South Tyrol, but only around 40 of them are edible. The undisputed stars of the mushroom scene in the area are the porcini, chanterelles and parasols. Unfortunately, they also have a number of inedible or even poisonous doppelgängers. The delicious porcini are often confused with the bitter boletus with fatal consequences, as ingesting them can lead to gastrointestinal inflammation. Chanterelles are also a risky business, given their resemblance to the highly-poisonous deadly webcap. To make sure that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of getting it wrong: If in doubt, leave it out.

Where can I find the best mushrooms?
Mushrooms like it shady and damp, so they prefer to hide away in warm, humid soil in coniferous woods or mixed woodland. There’s one rule that’s always worth remembering: The more you search, the sharper your eyes will be! Veteran collectors know exactly where the best mushrooms are to be found. The important thing is to leave old and young mushrooms; the former are often riddled with maggots, while the latter haven’t had the chance to drop their spores.

How do you clean mushrooms?
Always collect mushrooms in a wicker basket, so you can get them home as fresh as possible. Once you get home, spread the mushrooms out and clean them quickly. The best procedure is to clean carefully with a kitchen brush and then wash them very briefly. It is important not to wash them for too long, as mushrooms soak up water rapidly and lose their taste. Porcini mushrooms should only ever be cleaned dry, otherwise they lose their aroma.

What’s the best way to cook mushrooms?
Mushroom risotto, porcini dumplings, tagliatelle with chanterelles or polenta with mushroom sauce - mushrooms are cooked in every way imaginable in the farmhouses of South Tyrol. Fresh from the forest, and prepared with love.
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