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DISCOVER NORWAY

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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DISCOVER NORWAY

DISCOVER NORWAY: Seven unmissable events in June 2023 

Music festivals, street food meetups, Pride events and culture workshops for children are among the best events happening in Norway in June.

DISCOVER NORWAY: Seven unmissable events in June 2023 

Pride events 

Oslo Pride begins on June 23rd and lasts until the beginning of July. Oslo Pride is Norway’s largest pride celebration. Organisers have said that volunteers are working to make this year’s event the biggest yet. 

The main parade is actually on July 1st, but other events in June include Pride Park, Pride House and Mini Pride. You can read more about Oslo Pride (in Norwegian) on the website of the organisers

Bergen Pride will run much earlier in June, beginning on June 2nd and lasting until June 10th. Over 80 different events with 50,000 participants are planned. The parade itself is on the 10th. 

NEON music festival

The NEON music festival returns for the second time on June 9th and 10th in Trondheim’s Bryggeribyen E.C. Dahls Arena. 

Lewis Capaldi, James Bay, Mimi Webb, Benjamin Ingrosso, and Dean Lewis, as well as several Scandinavian pop and dance-pop stars, such as Sigrid, Dagny, and Zara Larsson, are among the performers. 

Tickets are already available, and you can choose between a festival pass, daily tickets, or premium ticket options.

Other festivals 

Norway’s two largest cities will also host several festivals in June. First, Natt Jazz and Bergen International Festival wrap up at the beginning of June. Then between June 14th and June 17th, Norway’s second city will host Bergenfest. Sigrid, Ayra Starr, Iggy Pop, and Ylvis are among the headliners. 

In Oslo, there will be two festivals running (almost) simultaneously. The Oslo music festival takes place between June 14th and June 17thPiknik I Parken (or PiP festival) will begin on the 15th and end on the 17th. The festival, taking place in Sofienberg Park in Gruneløkka, will host acts like alt-J, The 1975 and Busta Rhymes. Tons of Rock and Loaded Festival also take place in Oslo in June. Kristiansand and Stavanger will also host festivals in June. 

Sankthans 

Friday June 23rd is Sankthans Aften, which is a midsummer celebration. For the uninitiated, the evening celebrates a shared gratitude for long days and warm nights. 

It is popular to celebrate the occasion by gathering around a bonfire with friends. The city is a special occasion in the city of Ålesund, where the celebrations are famous for the massive bonfire which is lit on the shores of the waters surrounding the city. 

Many Norwegians say that if you sleep with a sankthansblomst or a “red campion flower” underneath your pillow on the night of sankthans, then your future spouse will appear in your dreams. 

Miniøya 2023 

An activity for kids will be Miniøya (mini islands) 2023. The event is a culture and music festival for children. The festival takes place between June 10th and June 11th in Tøyen Park in Oslo. 

In addition to music, there will be performances from the National Theatre, literature events and activity workshops. 

Summer at the Museums 

From June 23rd to August 20th, 12 museums and 32 attractions in south Trøndelag will run a packed schedule of summer activities for all ages. 

Events are planned at attractions such as Sverresborgthe Norwegian Deaf MuseumRingve Music MuseumRockheim and Trondheim Maritime Museum, to name a few. 

Food trucks across Norway 

Street Food Norway is taking several food trucks on tour across Norway. During June, the food trucks will visit Fredrikstad, Moss, Hønefoss, Drammen, Skien, Larvik, Amfi, Halden and Åsane. Other events will be held in Bryne, Karmøy, Eidsvoll, Kingsberg and Holkksund. 

Gyros, Belgian fries, churros, dumplings, raclette, poke, waffles and pizza are among the dishes on offer. In addition, cuisines such as Mexican, Italian and Thai will also be offered. 

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