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Safe to eat? Mushroom school tests the senses

Autumn is mushroom season, and there’s a Swiss school devoted to finding and identifying the edible ones. 

The Swiss are enthusiastic mushroom gatherers, and many traditional dishes wouldn’t be the same without them. Hence the popularity of the group offering lessons on mushroom-pickingexternal link (in German). 

Johannes Kurt and Nicola Wernke met at a mushroom-inspecting event. He’s been picking mushrooms since childhood and serves as an official inspector. She loves all mushrooms, including the slime molds and toadstools. They immediately sensed that they’d be the perfect duo to offer a sound education in mycology – the term for the science of mushrooms. 

Mistakes can be dangerous

Over the course of the year, they share their knowledge of over 50 types of edible mushrooms as well as the most important toadstools – plus the biology behind them. “To find mushrooms, you have to develop a sense of smell, know which soil is nutrient-rich, and let your inner passion develop,” says Johannes “Housi” Kurt. 

With the growing popularity of mushroom picking, the number of poisoning cases is also on the rise, as some mushrooms are inedible. In many communities, there are checkpoints where collectors can have their mushrooms inspected. As Housi puts it, “There’s no room for mistakes in mushroom picking.”