There is no other mushroom more enigmatic than the fly swatter, or Amanita muscaria that I have already analyzed in detail. Is about the most recognizable mushroom on the entire planet.
It is well known for being the hallucinogenic mushroom responsible for Alice’s trip to Wonderland, and quite possibly for our beloved images of Santa Claus dressed in red with his flying reindeer. Browse this content
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I don’t like hallucinations. Not stomach cramps, as we are. So for years I ignored this fungus during my mushroom hunting trips. Until very recently. I was looking for some Boletus edulis and, as every hunter of these mushrooms knows, the flyswatter is literally a red flag that indicates that a boletus may be nearby: the reason is that they come out more or less at the same time in similar places. And right where I was at that moment there were thousands of muscarias, as if it were a red tide in the middle of the forest. As I was walking while picking up tickets and other magnificent mushrooms, I began to have a conversation with myself:
– You know you can eat those amanitas, right? – Yes, but in the case of Amanita muscaria, its preparation takes a lot of work, right? – Probably, but you will never have a better opportunity to experiment than with all these you have here. – OK OK. So I grabbed a different bag and started picking them up.
In no time I filled a shopping bag. In fact, I could have filled the back of my truck with these mushrooms. But he was also carrying a good booty of tickets, the prize of the day. So I dealt with them first. My dehydrator was running continuously for days. I made boleto powder, dried chunks, cooked boleto risotto, and even gave a few as gifts. All this while my bag of amanitas was unattended in the garage.
So I decided to do a little research on Amanita muscaria, its consumption and how to prepare it. I have a lot of books on mushrooms. Most of them say that fly agaric is toxic and hallucinogenic. Exaggerated Considerations Some consider it as lethally poisonous, which seems an exaggeration considering that there are only a handful of deaths due to this mushroom. All cases have other aggravating circumstances. By the way, a word of caution: fly swatters appear to be attractive to cats and dogs, and can kill them if eaten, so keep your pets away! On the other hand, it seems that there is also a whole modern subculture dedicated to traveling with this mushroom, and Its use to have visions dates back thousands of years, especially among those who lived in the northern boreal forests.
Christmas Symbol I finally turned to a book that claims that the fly swatter has been a symbol of Christmas happiness for centuries in Central Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia. It has been called “the red light that shines in the darkness of winter.” And the northern peoples are crazy about these mushrooms. We mushroom hunters in lower latitudes often ask ourselves a fairly common question when we see less common mushroom species: is it edible? Well, the Russians eat it… So the Amanita muscaria falls into this category. Historically, Siberians boiled the fly swatter and then drank the infusion to get drunk. Then they saved the mushrooms to eat later. Siberian cattle love this mushroom. I don’t mean cows, but reindeer. High Indeed. Caribou seek out Amanita muscaria just for the high (or at least that’s what it looks like to humans). So it’s not too far-fetched to get a picture of a happy, fat, drunk, bearded guy hailing from the North Pole, dressed in a red suit with white trim, as he relaxes next to his flying reindeer. But like I said, I don’t like this kind of thing. So I investigated in greater depth about the Amanita muscaria, its preparation and its characteristics. It seems that the main toxins (or “active ingredients”) are ibotenic acid and muscimol. Contrary to what happens with the amatoxins of the deadly amanitas (green hemlock and angel of death), ibotenic acid and muscimol they are soluble in water. Upon further investigation, I came to an article on how to detoxify the fly swatter, and that proved to be quite revealing. I also came across a long article written by two important mycologists who spoke about the cultural attitude towards Amanita muscaria, its consumption. Edible but harmful All the details about the reasons why this mushroom has such a special consideration: it is food, but also a poison and a hallucinogen. As a food, the fly swatter needs special preparation. Apparently most people only eat the hats of the youngest mushrooms. You need to boil them in a large amount of water for a certain time, and then you have to throw the water away.
Subsequently, most cultures choose to boil them as if they were normal mushrooms, or to preserve them in oil. In fact, I know some Italians who do the same thing. In addition, the Japanese in the city of Nagano eat Amanita muscaria as pickles, as do Lithuanians, Finns and Russians. Also, I found another article about how to eat the fly swatter, and apparently it is delicious. I was also able to read an other warning article and that it is written by two mycologists who, apparently, did not detoxify the muscaria sufficiently. The moral of that article is that if you want to eat Amanita muscaria, its preparation involves using a lot of water and boiling the mushrooms as best you can.
And now I go back to the shopping bag. By the time I had armed myself with the courage to handle these mushrooms, about half of them had gone bad. But I still had 10 good hats left to experiment with. What I explain below is what I did to detox the mushrooms. Keep in mind Now, if you make the decision to play with Amanita muscaria, its consumption is entirely your responsibility. Remove the hats Ten liters of water Boil for 15 minutes Change the water first I took off the hats and cleaned them with a brush and with the side of a knife. So I cut them into slices of just over half a centimeter. Later I filled a pot with just over ten liters of water, leaving about seven or eight centimeters of margin at the top. I added enough salt to make the water taste salty and a cup of cider vinegar. This is because there are several sources that say that adding salt and vinegar helps to draw out toxins. I brought the water to a boil, added the mushroom hats, and I let them boil for about 15 minutes. Then I strained the mushrooms, filled the pot halfway with fresh water and brought it to a boil. Then boil the mushrooms for another 5 minutes. Why? If they had too much salt or vinegar, this would help. Also, prevention is better than cure.
LThe key when boiling mushrooms is time and volume of water.
Keep in mind
You want to use enough water to extract all the toxins from the mushroom, so the more mushrooms you boil, the more water you will need.
As for the time, it seems that 15 minutes is a pretty good time interval, according to my sources.
When the slices were ready after this treatment, almost all the color in the pretty red hats was gone. Even so, it was still a faint ivory-yellow color, but the mushrooms themselves were pale and elusive. Come on, they weren’t very appetizing. I found a recipe that made them fried in butter, so I made them like this. I experimented with the number of slices corresponding to a hat. Small quantity With any new mushroom, it is always advisable to start with a small amount. Especially with one that has potentially toxic effects. So I put the slices in a non-stick skillet and sauteed them for a few minutes. I found it odd that they didn’t exude too much water, so I added some butter and a little salt. I loved watching the slices fry and crisp. That was something else!
Tasting the mushrooms
I put them on a small plate and took a bit hesitant. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Texture and flavor At first they tasted like butter and salt, a combination that I always like, but later I noticed the crunchy texture of the mushrooms and the nutty flavor that everyone talks about who has eaten muscaria. Instinctively I picked up another slice, and another, and another. I had to stop after I had eaten a whole hat. They were delicious. But the time had come to wait. Mycologists who had boiled their mushrooms with little water and for insufficient time started their journey at 20 minutes. So I started watching a football game on television. I was wondering if the colors of the players’ jerseys could trigger some weird hallucinations. But not. I looked at my watch: 45 minutes had passed and I didn’t notice anything. The game was boring. Then I watched a series where a bunch of Vikings were beheaded in England 1000 years ago, which in hindsight was probably not ideal if you were about to start a mushroom trip. But not. I looked at my watch again: two hours had passed and I still didn’t notice anything. If the journey had to begin, it would have already. Also, neither …