Broaden your kitchen’s pantry and give wild mushrooms a go! Join us on this delectable journey of mushroom foraging.

Nestled in the nooks and crannys of our planet’s woodland sits a world of captivating culinary bounty. For some they generate curiosity and wonder with their whacky shapes and sizes. For others they present mouth-watering opportunities to do some foraging.

Hunting for mushrooms is probably the most popular form of foraging on the planet. It can bring families and friends together and elevate your home cooking experience.

Ayse Demir is a Mushroom Forager from Doncaster where she regularly goes on the hunt with her friends and daughter.

Ayse believes foraging is a great way to teach the younger generations about nature: “Me and her go out together, learning how to respect respect nature and appreciate it.”

“She gets very excited, she loves finding them, it’s all quite magical for her so it’s a big deal when she finds something.”

Ayse Demir on the magic of foraging with her daughter

Fungi hunting can be an extraordinary way of educating yourself of the nature that surrounds you. It can also offer an escape from the harsh realities we face at work or at home.

Ayse advocates the brilliant feeling you get from foraging and she believes it can help to improve your mental health: “It might sound a bit mad but you do seem to get into like a bit of a meditative state when you’re picking them”

But what is the point of picking the mushrooms themselves?

You see there are all sorts of different types. Some taste great, some are great medicines and some are straight up poisonous! It’s important you pick the right ones so let’s get stuck in!

One of Ayse’s favourites is the birch polypore. It is good for your immune system, it promotes healing and has both anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. You can actually make tea from it to utilise this medicinal miracle mushroom’s benefits. This process is achieved by dehydrating the mushrooms, then putting a piece in boiling water.

You’d be very surprised by what you can find in your local wood. Ayse walks just a few minutes down the road from her home, where she finds all sorts of highly sort after, ‘fancy’ mushrooms. Her favourites are the Porcini Mushrooms, often used in Italian cooking and the Oyster Mushroom which is regularly likened to meat because of it’s texture.

Porcini’s can both be cooked fresh and dehydrated.  Ayse said: “They’re great in creamy garlic mushrooms, I’ve put them in pasta before I’ve dried them, so and I had quite an abundant porcini season.”

Mushrooms are tasty, versatile and varieties are endless. However, they’re not just impressive in a culinary sense. The rate they grow and evolve is astounding.

Over 2000 new plants and fungi are discovered each year proving it can be an imagination bending discovery process.

Ayse sees fungi as an ever changing landscape with new species being found all the time: “Mushrooms are ever evolving, you can’t keep up with them, they do all sorts of mad crazy s***”

Scientifically, they continue to defy logic too. Evidence actually suggests fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants! Fungi can communicate with each other through the release of chemicals and sending signals through nervous system like structures called hyphae.

So take the leap! Venture out into the wild, push your taste buds to the limit and rediscover the abundant nature that lies just beyond our doorsteps.