Mushroom Picking: When’s The Best Time?

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Were you aware that there are more than 10,000 types of known mushroom species, but only around 40 are edible? With so many species that can be found, you’re likely asking: what’s the best time to pick mushrooms? 

Surprisingly, many of the various edible species can be foraged in the US in different regions at different times of the year. Mushroom picking season doesn’t have a beginning or end. Thanks to the vastness of the mushroom kingdom, many species grow at different times year-round. 

If you’re traveling the nation in an RV rental from a company like Cruise America, you can go mushroom picking in the spring, summer, fall, and even in the middle of winter. However, this depends on the type of mushrooms you want to forage and their location. The weather will also factor in as mushroom foraging season is highly dependent on Mother Nature. 

So if you want to know where to forage, you need to know more about the types of edible mushrooms and where and when they can be picked during favorable weather. Our guide has detailed everything you need to know, including some of the most helpful tips. 

Mushroom-Picking Helpful Tips

Before we do a deep dive into the five types of mushrooms, where they are found, and the best season to pick them, we want to share a few helpful tips. 

  1. Try To Learn How To Identify Edible Mushrooms

Unfortunately, not all mushrooms can be picked and consumed. Some are even poisonous to the touch. 

That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to identify edible mushrooms from poisonous ones. Of course, since there are more than 10,000 species, this is a momentous task, but luckily, you can use foraging guides and apps to help you when you’re mushroom picking. 

  1. Don’t Forget Your Mushroom-Picking Tools

If you want to go mushroom picking, you need to plan appropriately. One of the first things you must ensure is that you have the mushroom-picking tools you need to forage correctly. 

For example, you need a basket or paper bag and a knife in addition to your field guide or mushroom identifying app on your phone. Using a paper bag or basket instead of a regular hiking bag will help prevent your mushrooms from sustaining damage or getting bruised. 

Additionally, if you want to go a step further, pack a cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and prevent your mushrooms from becoming slimy. Moreover, although a knife isn’t a necessity, it makes mushroom picking far easier and less damaging. 

  1. Consider Seeking Help From An Expert

If you have never gone mushroom picking before, you might want to consider seeking aid from an expert who knows the difference between safe mushrooms and those that are poisonous and harmful. 

There are numerous tours available in different parts of the US and at different times during the year that offer a mushroom-picking guide to help you through the process. A guide not only takes away the little stress there is involved with mushroom picking, but he or she also helps make it a more enjoyable experience. 

Mushroom Picking: 5 Types, Best Time To Pick Them, and Where To Locate Them In The US

Mushroom picking can be a year-round activity since many species grow in multiple locations in the US at different times of the year. However, as you know, some mushroom seasons are long and others short, depending on location and weather. 

Below we have described some of the best mushrooms you can forage in different regions in the US and the best time to pick them. Armed with this information, you can prep your RV and mushroom-picking tool kit and be underway in no time. 

  1. Morels

One of the very first pickable mushrooms to rear its head in the foraging season of spring (April and May) are morels, thanks to the warmer weather. When mushroom hunters see morels, they know they can get their tool kit out to go foraging. 

These mushrooms are identified by their off-white stem that supports a mushroom cap that’s elliptical in nature. Yet the biggest identifying feature of these mushrooms is their web of thin veins that make them resemble a honeycomb. The mushroom cap can also be nearly black, light brown, or beige. 

If you want to pick morels, you should venture to states like Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Virginia, and Maryland. 

  1. Puffballs

Puffball mushrooms are one of the easiest to identify because of their large size. These wild mushrooms can be as big as four inches to a foot, and their spongy marshmallow-like texture makes them an acquired but nonetheless delicious taste. 

These mushrooms are generally white or off-white and have rounded caps with no visible gills or stems. If you’re going to pick puff balls, remember to cut them open before cooking them, as they resemble amanita mushrooms, a deadly varietal. If the puff balls have gills on the inside, they are amanitas.

You should also note that there are many different kinds of puffballs, so you must be careful before consuming them. Often giant puffballs (the ones you want) can be found in the eastern and central parts of the US during the late summer and fall (July to August mostly). You will generally find them underneath small stands of trees, in meadows, and around forest openings. 

  1. Chanterelles

If you’re a beginner forager, Chanterelles are the mushrooms you need to make your target. These mushrooms are easily identifiable thanks to their bright colors, that range from bright gold to pale orange. They are also uber easy to distinguish from their terrible poisonous look similar to the jack o’lantern mushroom. 

Interestingly, chanterelle mushrooms have gills that appear to melt into the cap, and these gills are not easily separated, so you can’t confuse them with button or portobello mushrooms. If you’re worried your eyes will deceive you, let your nose identify them, as they are said to have a fresh and sweet apricot smell.

Chanterelles grow during hot, humid, and damp weather throughout the US except for Hawaii. They tend to do particularly well in hardwood forests near water sources. However, their season usually starts in the fall and winter when they grow the best, but they also do well in summer and spring, especially in areas with a coastal fog drip. 

  1. Maitake

The maitake mushrooms (dancing mushrooms) are originally from China and are well known for their holistic medicinal benefits. These mushrooms are also commonly referred to as the hen of the woods, ram’s head, and fried chicken because of their taste. 

In the US, these mushrooms can be found in the autumn months and are most often found in older forests on or around the base of trees in northeastern states like New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, and Connecticut.

Unsurprisingly, these Maitake mushrooms are one of the most coveted edible fungi around, so it’s crucial to make your way to forests in these states at the start of autumn so you have a chance to pick them. You can identify them by their overlapping lacy fronds, brownish-black color, and large sizes. 

  1. Oyster Mushrooms

Another great mushroom that beginners and experts can easily spot is oyster mushrooms. If you want to pick these mushrooms, you should look along tree trucks and on rotting logs, as they usually grow vertically in clumps atop these locations. 

Interestingly, oyster mushrooms range in color from light pink to pale brown but have pure white gills and an off-center stem that is short. These mushrooms also have a much longer season than other mushrooms and can be found in the fall, spring, and even winter. 

If you want to pick oyster mushrooms during these seasons, you must make your way to subtropical and temperate forests like California and other parts of North America. 

Rent An RV With Cruise America To Go Mushroom Picking This Season

Mushroom picking is one of the most exciting but oddly relaxing activities you can do alone or with friends and family. If you want to participate in mushroom picking in the US, you should consider getting an RV rental from Cruise America

We have a wide variety of motorhomes from which you can choose that are guaranteed to get you where you need to be. So contact us here to make a reservation and browse through the available options on our site. We look forward to helping you.