Germans love their mushrooms, consuming the most mushrooms per capita than any other country in the world and for Germans, wild mushrooms are just about as good as it gets. For this reason they are prized and viewed as being a delicacy.
The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in the southern part of Germany is an excellent place to gather mushrooms, since it is able to offer almost perfect conditions for them to flourish. It has dense woodland, much of which is relatively undisturbed from one year to the next. There is a reasonable amount of rainfall. Leaves fall during the autumn and are not collected : and all of these conditions are just ideal for mushrooms.
But do not worry if you are in the northern part of the country, since there is a relatively large amount of woodland, all of which offer very good growing conditions for mushrooms.
The cep mushroom, also known as the porcini or in England the penny bun is quite common throughout Germany, but particularly in the Black Forest. It is known as the Steinpilz here.
Germans do tend to be quite zealous about their mushroom picking and if they love mushrooms and picking them in the wild, then they are likely to be fonts of knowledge about all types of mushrooms and fungi, including which are poisonous and which are ok to eat. A local guide may well be the key as to the best places to find wild mushrooms, so try to ascertain if there is anyone locally who could help you to source some mushrooms. The season tends to be from September through to October and a very good time to find them is just after it has been raining, particularly if the rainfall has been over a relatively long period.
Champignons are often regarded by the Germans as being quite common; in English we would refer to these as being the ‘meadow mushroom’. However, the mushroom they call the Pfifferlinge is the prized chanterelle mushroom and if you can either find someone who can take you to spots where these grow or go on a mushroom picking tour, then you will probably find lots of them: it is simply a question of knowing where to look! As in other parts of the world, ceps will often grow near beech and oak trees.
If you do want to venture out ‘solo’ to pick mushrooms, you would be well advised to ensure that it is lawful to pick any mushrooms you find. In legal terms, ignorance is no defence, so you should ensure that you are aware of any restrictions. Also make sure that you correctly identify any mushroom prior to eating it.
Like mushroom gathering anywhere else, you should also be mindful of the habitat and environment in which the mushrooms are growing and try to minimise any disruption to their habitat.
But this is a great country to explore and to go off the beaten track and find fungi galore, so enjoy the experience (whilst being careful).