There's no argument: the "Fly Agaric" (Amanita muscaria) is a simply stunning mushroom—and one that is generally known for its lore, mysticism, and magic.
It's also known for it's toxicity—because, yes! It can make you very sick.
And that's because, yes, it's poisonous...
But did you know that it can also be rendered edible—and even tasty?
Okay, first and foremost: I am in no way recommending that anyone follow the process I am about to outline. If you do follow these instructions, you do so at your own risk. Seek an expert, like we did, if you have an interest in fly agaric consumption. I will accept no liability over any attempt made to replicate these instructions. I'm simply sharing how Lee and I came to safely eat fly agaric mushrooms this evening, with the strict guidance of expert and long-time Mendocino Coast Mushroom Club member, Tom Jelen, at their December club meeting!
It's no secret that the fly agaric is my favorite mushroom—and when given the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating fungus and witness firsthand how this otherwise toxic and highly unfriendly mushroom can, in fact, become a "friendly fungus," I was all over it!
At the meeting, Tom guided fellow club members through the following steps as he prepared the fly agaric mushrooms that were donated for consumption:
Set two separate large pots of water to boil on the stove. You want there to be a very high water to mushroom ratio, meaning you should have a considerable more water than there are mushrooms. The water will assist in detoxifying your mushrooms, so do not skimp!
Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. Be sure to use specimens that are firm with no moldy or squishy bits; any age/size is generally fine. You can leave the warts on the cap. The bulb can be removed or shaved. Take care to remove dirt.
When the water has reached a minimum of 180 degrees, add your mushrooms to one pot.
The water will temporarily cool and stop boiling. Wait for it to come back to a boil, and then set a timer and boil the mushrooms on medium for 7 minutes.
When the 7 minutes are up, remove the mushrooms from the first pot of boiling water and place them into the second pot. Repeat step 4.
After your second round of 7 minutes is complete, remove the mushrooms from the water.
Slice the mushrooms up into pieces. Sautee in butter, adding salt occasionally to taste. Cook on medium for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve. We ate it on toast with the option of brie or goat cheese.
And now we can say we've safely eaten fly agric!
Okay... wanna know a secret?
So, many of you know that, aside from candy cap ice cream, I've yet to really find a way to eat mushrooms that I actually enjoy. Well, what do you know... apparently I'm a fan of the fly agaric!! It was so tasty, I went back for more.
Scientically speaking, how does this process work?
Fly agaric mushrooms contain the alkaloids muscarine, ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are toxic to humans at varying doses. However, these toxins are, essentially, "boiled out" of the mushrooms during the boiling process, which renders them safe for consumption.
So again, while I am in no way saying "hey, grab yourself a fly agaric, get your boil on, and have a munch!", I am saying that it can be done—and in a way that can be enjoyed. I was certainly pleasantly surprised! Just be sure to seek out an expert to guide you and do not try this alone at home.
Special thanks to Tom Jelen and the Mendocino Coast Mushroom Club for a fun evening and delightful demonstration!