Mushroom picking is a good hobby in a sense, that it doesn’t require much gear or expensive investments. In Finland we have a thing called ‘jokamiehenoikeus’ – everyman’s right – which allows you to pick mushroom and berries from public forests for free.
List of useful things to have:
– mushroom knife
– walking shoes
– water /snack
What you need with you, is first of all a mushroom knife. You can buy a good mushroom knife from any well equiped supermarket, price starting from 2-3€ . There are different styles of mushroom knives; some bend and some have a shead. I personally prefer the very basic one. Important is that the blade is sharp and thin, and that it has a brush on the other side. If you don’t own yet a mushroom knife, take a small and sharp kitchen knife and for example baking brush (even the silicon brushes will do).
Another thing what you need, is something where to store and carry the mushrooms in. Woodchip basket is good, because it’s very light to carry and suitable for the mushrooms. Some fancy baskets have compartements for the mushrooms, but you can also put bowls inside the basket for different mushrooms (as you don’t want the slimy mushrooms to blend with the dry ones – or big ones to crush the fragile ones).
In case you don’t have wooden basket, you can as well use an old shopping basket, or build a basket from a carbon box with some wire, or take a paper bag. Try to avoid plastic bags, as the mushrooms rotten very fast in those.
Besides mushroom knife and a basket, another important thing is good walking shoes. Preferably water resistant. You don’t normally have to step much off the trail, as the mushrooms often grow besides the paths. So you can even go with sneakers, if you don’t mind your shoes and socks getting wet in case the ground is moist (which it often is). If you intend to stay for a while and enjoy yourself while walking, then I definitely recommend rubber boots or hiking shoes.
You’ll also want to take a bottle of water with you, because hiking in the forest will guaranteed to make you thirsty. And some small snack is also a good idea, to give you energy when you start to get tired from hiking. Usually it’s the dehydration that makes you tired more, so make sure to drink water.
Nowadays with all the great technology available, I recommend that you make sure your mobile phone battery is fully charged and download some terrain map application to it (e.g. ‘Maastokartat‘ By Mika Suonpää). It will be very helpful, in case you lose your sense of orientation and what to make sure you are heading to the right direction.
And last but not least, a guidebook to help you to identify the mushrooms that you are picking. There are plenty of Finnish mushroom guidebooks available. Even mushroom guidebook applications for your phone. Two important things:
1) When picking mushrooms in Finland, make sure your guidebook is for Finland too! There are different mushrooms in different countries, and you need to make sure you positively identify the mushrooms specific to the country where you are in. There are differences in the mushrooms even between the neighbouring countries.
2) Make sure you use an up to date guidebook! Don’t use an old one, because the information available regarding mushrooms develops over time. Some mushrooms that our grandparents or parents may have picked, may nowadays be considered as poisonous or otherwise not recommended. For example Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca (Valevahvero) is shown as edible mushroom in older guidebooks, but poisonous in new ones. Also Lactarius turpis (Mustarousku) is not recommended anymore because of the necatorin it contains.
Happy mushroom picking!