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Assume I have found and want to eat a to me unknown kind of mushroom. Is there some way to find out if that mushroom is poisonous by looking/smelling/soaking it?

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I voted to close as off topic. Seems like this belongs on a survival site. Buy your edible mushrooms from a store. –  hobodave Jul 26 '10 at 2:04
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It's a food safety question. It has merit. Just because you can buy something in a store doesn't mean it can't be poisonous. –  crtjer Jul 26 '10 at 4:22
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+1 Wild mushrooms are food too –  Willbill Jul 26 '10 at 16:35
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5 Answers 5

up vote 18 down vote accepted

No as per: "There are no outward characteristics that all poisonous mushrooms have in common, so picking and eating wild mushrooms requires the utmost caution. To be absolutely safe, the only mushrooms you should eat are those found at supermarkets and restaurants!

All the old wives’ tales about how to tell if a mushroom is poisonous – such as whether it tarnishes silverware or turns blue when bruised – are dead wrong.

There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as an old, bold mushroom hunter."

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+1: If you aren't experienced, don't forage. There are a lot of plants that have toxic cousins...Hell, I know a guy who gave himself cyanide poisoning from eating wild almonds. –  Satanicpuppy Jul 26 '10 at 16:20
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There's a process in the US Army Survival manual on how to determine which plants are suitable for eating and/or hygiene purposes, but even it states:

WARNING

Do not eat mushrooms in a survival situation! The only way to tell if a mushroom is edible is by positive identification. There is no room for experimentation. Symptoms of the most dangerous mushrooms affecting the central nervous system may show up after several days have passed when it is too late to reverse their effects.

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Also mushrooms have so little nutritional value they aren't worth the risk in a survival situation –  Martin Beckett Mar 13 '11 at 3:43
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You cannot tell, and there is no specific single method.

This is definitely one of those things that cannot just be described on a Q&A site like this.

Start studying, without eating.

Find an expert and train your eyes and other senses.

Graduate to gathering and have someone else confirm your identification prior to cooking.

Even those experts do sometimes make mistakes, there are just so many kinds of fungi.

As my Scout-master used to say "You can eat any mushroom you want. At least once..."

Good Luck - be careful

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The only way to know if a mushroom is poisonous is to have a mushrooms book, or (better) to be an expert.
There are some methods that allow you to distinguish two similar mushrooms, but there isn't a method to know if a mushroom is poisonous/toxic.

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Or eat it and see if you die? –  Martin Beckett Mar 13 '11 at 3:43
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Feed the unknown mushroom to someone you don't like. After they die and you get put on trial for murder, the prosecutor will put some fancy biologist on the stand to recite some long string of latin sounding words that are the name of the mushroom. Ta-da! You now know the name of the mushroom and that it is poisonous.

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Would I go in jail too? ;-) –  kiamlaluno Jul 26 '10 at 5:06
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True. But then the problem is, how do I get the person I don't like to eat food that I have prepared? ;) –  Lars Andren Jul 26 '10 at 7:20
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"Here, eat this as a token of our mutual non-aggression. As far as you know." –  GalacticCowboy Jul 26 '10 at 13:57
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