Silent hunting season in Tatarstan opens with expensive mushrooms in the markets

Rough boletus, honey fungus and Paxillus involutus are sold 20-30% more expensive than during the previous years

The mushroom season began in Tatarstan and neighbouring Mari El forests — mushroom gatherers started to collect them. Moreover, buying forest gifts will be costlier this summer than last year. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report about the price of the first mushrooms in Kazan markets, which mushrooms neither should bought nor collected and what mistakes to avoid in cooking.

No bargaining

When there is no time to go to the forest but you want a lot of mushrooms, there is no need in going to the suburbs — markets are the most mushroom-rich places in Kazan. But prices for this product have soared, according to sellers, by 20-30%.

There are few mushrooms in the Moskovsky Market, there isn’t much choice, and sellers hold the price — early honey fungus and rough boletus are not cheaper than 250 rubles per 0,5 kg. One seller offered 300 g of rough boletus for 150 rubles.

Mushrooms are sold “wholesale” — in buckets — from Mari El in the Kolkhozny Market, and here the prices are more reasonable. A standard 5-litre bucket of rough boletus or orange-cap boletus with a “heap” is 200 rubles, a 7-litre bucket is 300, 5-litre bucket of honey fungus is sold for 200, Paxillus involutus is 250.

The attempts of bargaining both in the Moskovsky and Kolkhozny markets don’t work.

“There is the first yellow boletus!”

“The mushrooms have appeared, they are real!” a woman who came to visit her relative vividly shared the news in a hospital lift. “We collected rough boletus and yellow boletus at the weekend.

“Where?” patients and visitors revived.

“You think I will tell you this? the lucky woman mysteriously smiled. “The sites cannot be revealed. The mushrooms will get offended and disappear.”

Her colleague Vladimir Muzychenko confirmed the news: “I have collected a bit of rough boletus and honey fungus,” he noted the beginning of the mushroom season in Zelyony Bor on social media. “I have seen Paxillus involutus too (its appearance now is very surprising). There is the first yellow boletus. The only one yet. But it was enough for one soup portion. I think the mushrooms are about to appear — the first layer is exactly in early June. But it needs rains and warm nights.”

And his follower Andrey Sapozhnikov posted a photo of a bowl of morels.

“Morels appeared as early as May, but I don’t pick them — I am afraid of confusing them with poisonous morels. We went to collect gastronomically reliable mushrooms to Mari El at the weekend with my husband,” Realnoe Vremya’s reader Dinara Salikhova said. “There are a lot of rough boletuses, and they are not wormy yet. We got two baskets and a package — we filled them in some four hours, it was not really hard.

Yummy and dangerous

Morels are the mushrooms that were considered edible several decades ago, but since 1984 they have been on the list of poisonous and inedible mushrooms. They were banned from selling, cooking and processing in the USSR. They contain an antigen that is accumulated in the blood and destroyed erythrocytes. It isn’t removed from the organism, this is why if morels are consumed repeatedly as food, the concentration of the antigen in the blood goes up and an autoimmune allergic reaction starts — the organism starts to develop antibodies to the antigen of morels, they also die, as a result there is an avalanche-like reaction in the organism: anemia, kidney and liver failure and consequently it is followed by a death.

However, fans of morels aren’t scared: yummy and delicate mushrooms don’t seem dangerous because unlike poisoning with, for instance, deadly amanita, the death is in the remote future and doesn’t look obviously associated with mushroom consumption.

Specialist “votes” for rough boletus

“Specialists divide morels into two types — dangerous and safe, but I am not good at this, this is why I never pick them,” says Director of the Botanical Museum of Kazan Federal University, Candidate for Biological Sciences Sergey Lyubarsky. “And as far as I am concerned, inedible morels have a peculiarity some sea animals have. For instance, Portuguese man o' war has nematocysts, and the first meeting with it can turn out very unpleasant and painful. However, the second or third meeting can be by far more dangerous — they sensibiliser the organism, and after a repeated meeting the organism reacts in a more intense way, and everything can end tragically. As far as I am concerned, the same applies to not only morels but also early mushrooms, Gyromitra.

According to Lyubarsky, the other mushrooms that appeared in the forests, in the meadows and in the market aren’t dangerous for health.

“Meadow honey fungi that have appeared now are quite safe. It is practically impossible to confuse them with poisonous mushrooms: they grow in the meadows, not in the forest, and in circles, not one by one. However, their taste isn’t great. One shouldn’t be afraid of yellow boletus and Xerocomus, which are related to yellow boletus and rough boletus.

Cook right away!

The Tatarstan office of Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog repeatedly published recommendations on choosing mushrooms during the previous years. In particular the specialists indicated that children under 14, ill people, the elderly and pregnant women shouldn’t eat them (the mushrooms are digested with difficulty because of chitin — a natural compound that is digested with difficulty and complicates the digestion of other substances).

It is not recommended to pick the mushrooms growing next to industrial zones, roads and railways because they can quickly accumulate production residues and exhaust gases, accumulate radiation, which are harmful to human health.

The watchdog recommends collecting mushrooms only in eco-friendly areas, only the mushrooms one knows well and cut them with their leg. The same is topical for those who “collect” the mushrooms in the market: unfamiliar mushrooms without a leg can turn out indigestible and dangerous because it is not always possible to recognise a mushroom without a leg.

All wormy, overripe, gill-bearing mushrooms, mushrooms without legs, flabby mushrooms should be thrown away without regret. And the rest needs to be processed the same day — to cook, fry, freeze.

The watchdog thinks that there are three absolutely edible mushrooms: white, orange milk cap and milk mushroom. The rest must be cooked or soaked before cooking.

Since the silent hunt season has just begun, there haven’t been received official messages about mushroom poisoning in Kazan. But specialists recommend Tatarstan residents to be careful and choose only well-known types of this forest gifts.

Inna Serova, Diana Salikhova