Mushroom picking in Cornwall is actually relatively easy, due to the countryside and unspoilt and undamaged areas, which leave mushrooms alone and thus they are able to flourish.
So popular is mushroom collecting in Cornwall, that Cornwall County Council actually organise forays into the countryside, so that you can collect mushrooms and enjoy the taste of real, wild mushrooms. These forays can also help you learn more about mushrooms, where exactly to find them and which are poisonous, which may be edible yet upset some tender stomachs and which are the most delicious! If you are not well experienced in mushroom picking, then an organised foray probably is the best introduction (and the safest).
There are other forays available. The Wild Food School is an organisation dedicated to instructing people about the joys of food which can be fond in the wild and this includes mushrooms! Forays will look not just teach you about mushrooms, but other foods as well, so an afternoon spent here, can be quite informative.
However, if you are keen to ‘go it alone’ then you will find mushrooms in the usual spots i.e. damp and shady places, anywhere that trees are growing and sometimes in meadow or in Cornwall you can also find them in rocks.
There are lots of different varieties to be found in Cornwall and this may have something to do with the fact that there is a high salt content in the air, in some parts of Cornwall and this helps the mushrooms to grow. However, the myriad of varieties can actually make mushroom collecting more difficult for the amateur since it is harder to differentiate between what is an edible and which a poisonous fungi.
However, there is one absolute gem which is very common in Cornwall. This is the cep, also known as the penny bun (in Italian it is porcini) and it is a mushroom which seems to appear around October time in Cornwall, but is very much a here today and gone tomorrow mushroom, with a very short lifespan.
It has a large cap which is almost the colour of an old, dark penny. Some people say that the best way to recognise it is to simply look for a mushroom with a top on it like a baker’s bun and then it has a white stalk which grows wider the nearer it gets to the ground. Whilst it is true that in Cornwall you can find horse mushrooms, meadow mushrooms etc and they are more plentiful, many people who have tasted ceps will say that it is well worth the time and effort making sure that you find at least one during the season. It is often described as the best mushroom you will taste, so indulge yourself! A good tip for their ideal location, is to check out oak and beech trees. Where they offer a kind of protection to the grass underneath is the kind of spot that is loved by ceps, so you may find them here.
Otherwise you will find field and meadow mushrooms in plentiful supply, so take care, but enjoy !