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How to pick mushrooms in Norway like you’ve been doing it all your life

Summer may be drawing to a close, but in Norway there's a consolation: It's mushroom-picking time!

Pictured is a basket of mushrooms.
This is what you need to know about foraging for mushrooms in Norway. Pictured is a basket of mushrooms. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
This is the season when many (perhaps even most) Norwegians bunk off from work early to roam their local forests, bringing back giant hauls of hedgehog mushrooms (pigsopp), tasty chanterelles (kantareller), trumpet chanterelles (traktkantareller) and ceps (Steinsopp).
If you’re in the right part of Norway, and find a good spot, you can bring back kilos and kilos, which if dried or frozen can keep you going right through to next season. 
But for many foreigners (at least those who don’t come from similarly fungally-fixated nations), it can all seem overwhelming, meaning they miss out on one of the great joys of living in Norway. 
To know when to go out, study the weather. If there’s been a heavy autumn downpour, that will get the mushrooms growing, with ceps showing up 3-10 days after a heavy downpour and chanterelles taking two to three weeks.
Here’s some advice: 
1. Only pick (and eat!) what you know
Many beginners tend to uproot the first mushroom they come across and then seek to identify it and see if it’s poisonous or not. Don’t do this. It’s a much better approach to study just one or two of the most common edible mushrooms beforehand and then go out looking only for them.
It’s best not to eat anything you can’t safely identify. But this is no reason to be intimidated as while only about 100 of the perhaps 10,000 possible mushrooms you might see are good edibles, only a couple of handful are potentially lethal.
Hedgehog mushrooms, chanterelles, trumpet chanterelles and ceps make a good start. 
To start off with, stay away from the sort of white mushrooms you might find in supermarkets, as they can quite easily be confused with fungi that are very poisonous indeed. Particularly stay away from white mushrooms with white gills.
Hedgehog mushrooms are quite common in Norway and are popular with beginners as they are impossible to confuse with anything else, with the shaggy teeth which cover the bottom of the cap. 
Pictured is a hedgehog mushroom. Photo: D J Kelly/Wikimedia Commons
Chanterelles are most often found in pine woods, and hide under fallen leaves, making them hard to spot until you get the knack for it. You’re most likely to find nothing for an hour and then stumble on a patch hiding dozens and dozens, so be patient.
They are yellow and, instead of gills, have ridges which run down the stem a bit with no defined ring dividing them.

Pictured is a harvest of chanterelle mushrooms

Pictured is a harvest of chanterelle mushrooms. Photo by Jannet Serhan on Unsplash
The beauty of chanterelles is that the only thing you can really confuse them with, the false chanterelle (narrkantarell) is only slightly unpleasant tasting and not actually poisonous.
There are two ways of telling the difference:
  • Flesh colour: Chanterelles will have white, slightly stringy, meat when cut open. False chanterelles will have orange, slightly rubbery, flesh.
  • Scent: chanterelles are apricot-scented, false chanterelles smell of rotting wood.
A cep, also known as a penny bun mushroom. Photo: Strobilomyces/Wikimedia Commons
The cep is the most popular of the bolete family. It’s the porcini mushroom beloved of Italians, which you can buy in delicatessens sliced and dried for risottos.
But many of the others boletes, such as the bay bolete (svartbrun rørsopp), and birch bolete (rødskrubb) are also tasty.
The boletes are easy to identify due to the spongy tubes they have in place of gills, and their brown dimpled caps. As with chanterelles, there’s little chance of unexpectedly ending up in the emergency ward. The only poisonous genus, Rubroboletus, does not grow in Norway. 
You should also watch out for the very bitter but not actually poisonous bitter bolete (Gallerørsopp), which you can identify by the pinkish pores, and the black web on the stem.
2. Find your spot
The best forests to hunt for mushrooms in are old-growth forests, ideally a mix of pine or fir with a deciduous tree such as birch, oak or beech. But you can still find ceps and chanterelles in commercial spruce and pine plantations.
If you ask around, you can normally find out which local forests are deemed decent for mushroom-picking, but you will still need to spend a long time walking around until you stumble upon a really good spot. When you do, note it down, because it will probably still be producing in a few weeks, and then again next year.
If you can convince a friendly Norwegian to show you some of their best spots, it will save you a huge amount of trial and error, but it would have to be a very friendly Norwegian indeed, as most guard theirs with their lives.
Often, local nature reserves organise fungal forays, which might be a way of accessing local knowledge.
It also pays to get away from well-trodden paths and at least a few hundred metres away from the nearest car park. Some take bicycles so they can go deep down narrow forest paths. 
3. Get a book/ know where to check your mushrooms
River Cottage Handbook No.1 for Mushrooms, by John Wright, which is amusingly written, full of information, is a good place to start and has good photos and drawings. It’s more oriented to the UK though, which is a slight drawback. 
The Norwegian Association for Mycology and Foragingg has an app (Sopp Kontroll) which will help you identify mushroom varieties. They
also have in-person events which you can head to and have your mushrooms checked by experts. You can view their event calendar here
4. What to bring? 
It’s best to bring only useful things — a good basket, a knife, your phone, and of course a snack or beverage; coffee and biscuits in the forest is part of the whole experience. 
You might want to decouple from technology during your mushroom hunting, but a phone is very useful for tracking your location, and noting down where you find good spots, and also for photographing what you find and getting help. 
Baskets are better than buckets, as the mushrooms are less likely to get slimy.
Opinel knives are good for harvesting mushrooms, but more or less any knife will do.
5. Be a snob and don’t lay waste to the forest
It pays to be be picky. Dragging home maggot-infested corpses isn’t very productive. Only pick the perfect specimen. Leave the rest to the critters already inhabiting them. The forest are vast, and there are many more mushrooms in them than you ever could pick, so discretion is strongly advised.
Many Norwegians leave the ‘root’ of the mushrooms, believing that this will help them grow back, but as mushrooms are just the fruiting bodies of vast underground networks, in reality leaving the ‘root’ doesn’t make much difference.  
You should, however, avoid ripping up every mushroom you see then throwing it away when you decide it might be poisonous.

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For members


TRAVEL: Why the Bergen to Oslo train is a must-take journey

As one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the Bergen to Oslo train journey is a bucket-list experience for any avid traveller.

TRAVEL: Why the Bergen to Oslo train is a must-take journey

Stretching across roughly 500 kilometres of stunning Norwegian landscape (think waterfalls, hills and valleys, charming wooden houses, lakes, and rivers), the Bergen to Oslo railway route is not just a mode of transportation – it’s a unique chance to experience Norway’s beauty.

Often described as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, this railway route offers travellers a fantastic perspective on the country’s geographical splendour and rich cultural heritage.

READ MORE: The key things you need to know about Norway’s Bergen Line

It’s also a journey to be enjoyed slowly – the trip takes between six and a half and seven and a half hours, making it a great day trip option or a relaxing part of your broader Norwegian adventure.

Awe-inspiring landscapes and historical significance

As the train chugs from the coastal city of Bergen in western Norway to the capital city, Oslo, in the east, passengers get to see a panorama of fjords, waterfalls, mountain plateaus, and picturesque villages.

One moment, you’re skirting alongside a shimmering lake, and the next, you’re climbing snow-capped heights (the amount of snow depends on the time of year you take the trip), only to plunge into green valleys below a while later.

At an altitude of about 1,220 meters, the train crosses the Hardangervidda plateau, Europe’s highest mountainous plateau.

This region is known for its raw beauty, characterised by barren landscapes dotted with glacial lakes and rugged peaks.

Beyond the breathtaking views, the Bergen to Oslo railway also stands as a testament to human engineering and perseverance.

Completed in 1909, constructing this railway was no small feat. Workers had to combat harsh weather conditions, challenging terrains, and logistical problems.

The highest point of the trip between Bergen and the capital, Finse, also has a rich history.

The location served as the backdrop for the ice planet Hoth in Star Wars and was also the training ground for Robert Falcon Scott’s 1912 South Pole Expedition.


A red house photographed in the Myrdal area on the Bergen Line. Photo by Rachel McGrane on Unsplash

The comforts on board the train

Modern Norwegian trains are generally designed with passengers’ comfort in mind. Relatively spacious seats, large windows, charging slots for electronic devices, and facilities like Wi-Fi ensure that travellers can enjoy the views in a relaxed setting.

However, the Wi-Fi is pretty shaky at times (especially when you start going through the more mountainous terrain and tunnels) – so we don’t recommend relying solely on the on-board Wi-Fi if you also need to get some work in during the trip.

There is also room for bicycles and additional luggage on board; just remember to reserve a spot for your bike in advance.

If you get hungry during the trip, you can always stretch your legs and make your way to the onboard café.

There, you’ll find a decent selection of hot and cold dishes (pizzas, hot dogs, pre-made meals), baked products and desserts (several types of sweet buns, fruit), and beverages. You can enjoy your meal in the café or carry it back to your seat.

Night travellers aren’t left out either – a light evening menu is available throughout the night.

If you’re taking the line in the afternoon, there’s a chance that the café will offer food at half-price late in the evening (around 9 or 10 pm) to cut food waste. Don’t be surprised to see a stream of passengers heading for the café once the discount announcement is made via speaker.

Ticket options

Travellers can choose between a wide range of ticket options. At the time of writing, one-way tickets for adults ranged between ca. 850 and 1200 kroner. Much cheaper tickets are available when booking in advance. When booking in advance, a single can be purchased from 289 kroner. Tickets can be booked up to 90 days before the departure date and prices are based on demand and availability. 

The Vy Plus ticket provides extra comfortable seats. If you’re travelling with friends, family or colleagues, you can opt to share a compartment with two sofas, a shared table and room for up to six people.

You can also travel on a budget with Vy’s Lowfare tickets. If you take the night train, you have various sleeping options available. PlusNight features more comfortable lie-flat accommodation for when you want to get some sleep, while you can also opt for your own bed in a 2- or 6-berth compartment with the Sleeper and Rest ticket options.

The night train tickets also give travellers a discount on breakfast at partner hotels in the morning.

Furthermore, if you’re travelling with children, you can reserve seats in the Family carriage with a playroom for kids.

You can check all the other ticket options on Vy’s website.

It’s worth it

After six or seven hours on board the train from Oslo to Bergen, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is, “I need to do this again and share the experience with a friend/family member!”

So, if you get the opportunity to enjoy this train route, go for it. It might take a time investment on your end (the plane connection between Norway’s two largest cities is a much faster means of transport), but taking the train from Oslo to Bergen is well worth it.

Regardless of whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply a traveller seeking a memorable journey, this train ride will surely make a strong impression that will linger long after the journey’s end.