One of the great things about mushrooms and fungi is that they will pretty much grow anywhere in the wild, especially here in the UK, and the chances are that there are some interesting, exciting and most importantly edible mushrooms that are growing not very far from you. There are thousands of species of mushrooms that grow in the UK alone, and without either some kind of encylopedic knowledge or (and perhaps more plausible), a decent mushroom guide book.
Armed with just a mushroom book and penknife, amanita anyone can go searching for mushrooms if they like. You have to be careful of the places that you search for mushrooms however, for example you will need to stay away from private property (unless you have permission to pick fungi on their land), and you will need to heed any signposts and take care not to cause any kind of damage to the environment in which your mushroom hunting leads you. You mustn’t pick too many mushrooms either, and currently there is a limit of 1.5kg per person in the UK, which is more then enough.
There are hundreds of mushroom guide books that are available for the would-be hunter to purchase, but it can be quite a hunt to actually try to find a decent book. Its best that you buy a couple of good quality books, probably about 3 would be suffice for your average mushroom picker, and you must be willing to take time when trying to identify any wild mushrooms before consuming them.
Out of the many thousands of different kinds of mushrooms throughout the world, only a small fraction are actually edible, and unfortunately some of the fungi that you could encounter near you include poisinous ones, which have claimed the lives of many people. Therefore it is imperitive that you are sensible, and consult a decent guide book when deciding which mushrooms are edible, and which are best to leave behind.
In my opinion it would be best to purchase a decent identification book, like a kind of mushroom encyclopedia, which you could leave at home and refer to after collecting mushrooms to check that you are 100% certain that it is in fact the type of fungi that you believe it is. This book wouldn’t be taken with you when out foraging for mushrooms in the wild, simply because they are always big and bulky. Instead, you should take one or two good edible species guide books. Most decent books which specialise in the edible, common species of fungi usually have pages dedicated to the inedible species also – this is extremely important because you need to know what not to pick, and what to stay well clear of! You will have to compare the inedible species section against any of your own pickings so you can be completely sure that what you are about to eat is completely edible.
In summary, anyone can go mushroom foraging but you will need to have a lot of common sense, patience, and you must also take some decent mushroom identification guides with you. I recommend that if you are interested in going mushroom hunting you should purchase at least 2 guide books, and make sure you are very sure when it comes to picking and eating mushrooms. They can, and will, kill you if you make an incorrect identification, and if you aren’t sure of anything that you have collected then simply do not eat it, because it is not worth taking any chances whatsoever.