Please note that extreme care should be taken when collecting mushrooms/fungi for eating. If you are unsure as to what type of mushroom you are picking: do not eat it. Always err on the side of caution.
Mushroom picking in Oxfordshire is actually much easier than you may imagine. This is mainly because there are lots of mushrooms around: you just have to get out of your car or off your bike and walk slowly and take a look around and you probably will find mushrooms, whatever the time of year. It is mostly a case of just paying attention and looking in areas which mushrooms may love, such as where there are trees or old wood. Oxfordshire is also blessed with quite a lot of rural areas and naturally wooded places, which makes it the ideal place to hunt for mushrooms. I woudl suggest teh woods near kidlington near the back of Bransons land. If not there then try Blenheim Palace grounds as thsi has laods of old trees and parkland and makes a great day out.
One of the most common mushrooms is the Meadow Mushroom. This looks pretty much like the mushrooms which you can buy in any supermarket/grocers etc. It is usually to be found in the late summer and early autumn and is particularly bountiful if the weather has been quite wet.
The outside of the mushroom is white and then if you look under its ‘lid’ you will see that the ‘gills’ are a pink shade of brown, perhaps a little lighter than those you would buy in the shops. (But do not eat if you are uncertain). If the gills have actually turned a very dark brown or black, then it really is unsafe to eat them, since they will be too old.
One of the most pleasing and perhaps fun aspects of this mushroom is the way it just grows on its own, in a lawn, on a roadside, almost anywhere you can think of! You can have fun spotting them in a park or simply on any walk which takes you out of town and into the green areas of a park, lake, even just an open space which is grassy or has a couple of trees.
Another, albeit less common mushroom is the Morel mushroom. There are a few types of morels, but the most common is the yellow morel. These are distinctive in that they have a very ridge like helmet type head, which in the case of the common morel is a yellow colour.
They are often associated with growing where there has been a fire, but they also grow in wooded areas. Whilst we refer to them as ‘common’ they are still regarded as a great find and they are very much a culinary treat.
So take the time and trouble to just explore on foot. Take a trip to any of the wonderful parks in Oxford and just meander through the trees and look for mushrooms and then try to identify any which you find to ascertain if they are edible or not. They really are there: it is just a case of spotting them. The meadow mushroom is definitely the easiest to find and when you taste them taken from the wild, you will realise that the cultivated or forced mushrooms really are a poor imitation.