The Manual - How to forage for fungi

It's damp, it's chilly and there are rotting leaves all over the shop. That can only mean one thing - no, not seasonal affective disorder - mushroom season is upon us. Whether you're a puffball man or you prefer a chicken of the forest, here, courtesy of TV chef Valentine Warner is our guide to foraging for fungi.

1 Don't be put off by negative stories. There are many delicious mushrooms to be enjoyed in the UK, bubbling up from the moss, hiding in bracken and shining from the fields.

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2 Stick to what you know. Your range will extend. DON'T WING IT!

3 Cut mushrooms close to the base with a knife as pulling them up by hand can tear up tiddlers or the delicate underground system that maintains some mushroom's working relationship with its chosen tree.

4 Don't raid a whole patch. Have compassion for the fungal kiddiewinks and leave them to grow.

5 Use a wide-bottomed basket for collecting mushrooms. This will help any spores fall back to the ground. In a plastic bag they become slimy and collapse - especially after rain.

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6 Keep unknowns separate from the goodies until you've identified them.

7 Two books are better than one. Pictures and descriptions vary. Study size, veil, gills, cap, rim and stem shape. Too many times I've heard: "They looked yummy…" Foolish!

8 Distinctive winners: cep, common chanterelle, giant puffball, field blewit, giant parasol, and field mushroom.

9 Don't reveal the good spots and enjoy on toast.

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