There are an estimated 5,000 species of mushrooms, some of which are edible and others poisonous. Over 95% of all mushroom toxicity cases occur in those who misidentify which mushrooms are safe to eat. The effects can range from nausea, to liver failure, and in some cases death.
Continue reading to explore what types of mushrooms are safe for consumption and the consequences of eating toxic varieties. Learn how to store mushrooms properly and when to throw them away. Use this information to gain the positive health benefits of mushrooms while avoiding any adverse side effects.
Why Should You Not Eat Mushrooms?
There are a wide variety of mushrooms toxic to humans. If you consume these varieties, they can lead to health problems and even death.
While some wild mushrooms are a tasty and nutritious addition to various meals, others contain toxins that can cause fatal health issues. In addition, these wild mushrooms can also have high levels of metals and harmful chemicals.
Are Magic Mushrooms Bad For You?
Other mushrooms contain psilocybin, which can cause hallucinations if taken in large enough concentrations.. While “magic mushrooms” may be believed to generate a high or “trip,” there are other effects, which are far less desirable.
Irrational behavior, delusions, distorted sight and sound perception, can be symptoms that hang around for up to six hours after consumption. In addition, known side effects include drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting, and the possession of magic mushrooms is illegal in many countries, including the USA.
How Can I Tell If A Mushroom Is Poisonous?
It’s difficult determining whether or not a mushroom is safe for consumption unless you are an expert.
In general, avoid mushrooms with white gills or those with a “skirt” or ring around the stalk. Additionally, avoid any mushrooms with a red cap or any red markings on the stem.
To avoid the dangers of mushrooms, you should only eat those purchased from a reliable source. Never consume mushrooms unless you are 100% sure of their type.
When Should You Not Eat Mushrooms?
It’s not only toxic mushrooms that you should avoid. Ordinary mushrooms are one of the only non-plant or animal-based products that we eat and therefore require careful attention before consumption.
There are several signs to look out for that will alert you to the fact that your mushrooms may no longer be safe for consumption:
- If mushrooms are slimy, they are no longer suitable for consumption. This often occurs if they have sat in the fridge for too long. If you encounter slime on your mushrooms, it’s best practice to throw them away.
- Sometimes older mushrooms will wrinkle instead of developing slime. While some dryness is natural, a shriveled-up mushroom is a sign that you should not eat it.
- Dark spots are an alert that your mushrooms are starting to go bad. If your product develops dark spots, it’s best to throw it away.
- The consensus is that mushrooms have an outer limit of two weeks in refrigeration. They may be okay for consumption if they still look, feel, and smell fresh, but it’s better to avoid keeping them any longer than two weeks.
- If your mushrooms emit a strong odor, then you definitely will not want to eat them. All mushrooms have a scent, but if their smell is strong and unpleasant, it’s time to get rid.
How Do I Store Mushrooms?
Allow mushrooms to breathe in a way that supplies them with air without allowing them to dry out completely. An easy way to do this is to keep them in a loosely rolled-up paper bag in your fridge.
Alternatively, you can use a plastic bag lined with paper towels to help capture and retain moisture for your mushrooms.
If you buy mushrooms in a sealed wrap, leave them packaged until you’re ready to consume them; this helps retain their freshness for longer. To get the best quality from your mushrooms, aim to consume them within three to four days of purchase.
How Can I Extend The Shelf Life Of My Mushrooms?
Sliced mushrooms have half the shelf life of whole mushrooms. When purchasing from the grocery store, avoid convenience and opt for the longer-lasting product. Additionally, aim to buy mushrooms that still have both their cap and stalk intact as they have a longer shelf life than mushrooms that are broken or bruised.
Can I Freeze Mushrooms?
Yes. Mushrooms can last for up to a year when frozen adequately. This helps to keep them fresh for much more extended periods.
Can I Eat Leftover Mushrooms?
Cooked mushrooms can be eaten as leftovers as long as you follow the correct process. Ensure you refrigerate the leftovers within two hours to avoid mold or bacterial growth, and consume within three to four days.
When consuming the leftovers, reheat them to a minimum temperature of 74°C to prevent any foodborne illnesses.
How Do I Store Gourmet Mushrooms?
Many varieties of gourmet mushrooms have a much shorter shelf life than regular mushrooms. Oysters and chanterelles, for example, can only be stored for 24-48 hours and should be consumed the same day as you buy them.
This rule does not apply to all gourmet mushrooms, though. Others, such as shitake or morels, can be stored for up to two weeks.
What Are The Harmful Effects Of Mushrooms?
One of the harmful effects of mushrooms is present in those contaminated with campylobacter jejuni, a bacteria found in commercially grown mushrooms. The cause of this bacteria developing is insubstantial cleaning or improper cooking methods, along with cross-contamination from other products.
If you consume mushrooms that contain campylobacter jejuni, the harmful effects are likely to include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps.
While most store-bought mushrooms are safe for human consumption, they, like any other food, carry the risk of allergic reaction. People with mold allergies can find mushrooms trigger their symptoms—mold allergies that can cause asthma, infections, and lung disease.
Can Eating Mushrooms Kill You?
The fatal effect of mushroom consumption is death. While many store-bought mushrooms are entirely safe to eat, their wild counterparts are not so. Various wild mushrooms closely resemble edible types but are toxic to humans.
Unless you’re an expert, picking wild mushrooms for consumption is not recommended, as the wrong judgment could have dire consequences.
Are Mushrooms Bad For Your Liver?
Some mushrooms, such as Amanita bisporigera contain toxins that cause damage to the cells of your liver and can lead to liver failure.
However, it’s worth noting that other (edible) mushrooms have been used in animal studies and shown to help alleviate liver disease through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Mushrooms, in general, are not bad for your liver; it all depends on the type you consume.