Taming the Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric) Mushroom

Well, this isn’t very much a product review as it is the experience I had with the poisonous Amanita muscaria (commonly called “Fly Agaric”). This is not a story of taking psychoactive drugs / mushrooms. It is my experience in de-toxifying / de-psychoactivating the Amanita muscaria to make it edible. Yes, I kind of made up some words there. After doing quite a bit of research earlier this year on the subject of eating the deadly Amanita muscaria, I finally found some in the wild and decided to put the research to work.

As a side note, there has been some change in thought on whether this mushroom is deadly poisonous or not. What I had found is that it would take a portion of about 12 caps (for an average adult male in good health) to be deadly in one sitting. Regular use, without parboiling, will cause major health problems. Plus the psychoactive side effects are not pleasant. (What is parboiling? I had to look this up when I first read about it) These should be eaten with extreme caution.

You may have seen these mushrooms before. They are normally red but sometimes are yellow or orange. They are indeed a strange and magnificent mushroom to see (can you tell I like mushrooms?). At least where I’m from, in northern Minnesota. They are the most colorful mushroom I’ve seen here. Throughout history, this mushroom has been used for many purposes. It was and maybe still is used for food (when prepared properly) in Europe. It has also been used for pharmacological purposes by ancient peoples. And of course, given it’s interesting appearance, as a decoration. It’s probably the most commonly portrayed mushroom in books and movies. If you haven’t noticed it before, you will now. Just keep your eye out.

Finding the Mushroom

Picture yourself on a walk. As a wild mushroom hunter you are always looking for mushrooms on the ground or on trees. As you are walking, you come across a patch of mushrooms. Horay! you know exactly what they are and, yes, you know they are edible. It’s exciting! That’s kind of what it was like for me when I found the Amanita muscaria for the first time. At that time I never would have thought of eating them because they are poisonous. Then about a year later, I stumbled upon an article on how to remove the psychoactive and poisonous chemicals and prepare the mushroom for a meal. After reading that article, I did a lot more research to find out if this was truly possible. After all, you wouldn’t want to put your life and mental stability in the hands of someone who has a website on the internet. Those people are crazy!

Since I had recently found a few large patches of these, I decided to carefully try out what I had learned. This is what I did.

  1. I took a large pot and put 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in it and 2 table spoons of salt.
  2. Filled the pot up as almost to the top with water. The more water, the more chemicals can be boiled out of the mushrooms.
  3. Once the water was boiling, I threw in the mushrooms for about 20 minutes.
  4. I had a pan ready to go with some butter melted in it. Then I strained the mushrooms and put them in the pan to fry.
  5. After they were slightly browned and firmed up a bit, I put them on the plate and started eating them. (only a little bit at first).

As with any mushroom I eat for the first time, I tried only a little bit at first in case there were any bad side effects. I had done careful research to be sure how much I could safely ingest. After about 40 minutes my stomach was fine, I didn’t feel drugged, and my liver still seemed to be functioning. So I tried a little more. They tasted pretty good. The only thing I wish I did was boil them a little bit in fresh water to get out some of the taste of the apple cider vinegar. Despite that, I could still get a hint of the mushroom’s pure taste: a light nutty taste, similar to Boletes but not as potent. While it was very easy to do, it was quite a bit of work for the amount of food produced. If I were to do this again, I would want to have more mushrooms to make. I only took about 5 caps since I knew if I took more than that, they’d probably go to waste. Now that I have a good source in the woods, I might give this a try again if I find enough worth making a meal out of.

What do you think?