Can eating large quantities of edible mushrooms make you sick?

By “edible” I don’t mean the kind one might gather in the woods. I mean the kind you get in the grocery store produce department.

I love mushrooms. I would never be brave enough to eat one someone had picked, but since the ones in the store are grown commercially, guaranteed edible, I definitely eat those. So the other day at the grocery store, I saw some portobello mushrooms and thought “What the heck.” Last night the kids had peanut butter and jelly and yogurt for supper–it’s a favorite around here–and I put my four portobello caps in a skillet with some butter and salt. I had nothing else for supper except some tea, and ate nothing afterwards. That afternoon we’d had fast food for lunch, but no one else woke up in the middle of the night with what this family calls Bad Poop. Nor is anyone else queasy this morning. It dawned on my thick mind that maybe even completely “safe” mushrooms might have trace amounts of things, and I may have exceeded the smart limit of mushroom goodness last night, and I did an websearch and came up with lots of cautions about the dire consequences of ingesting wild mushrooms, but nothing about eating too many portobellos. Folks here who know about mushrooms–should I blame this on the portobellos, or is this more likely that I drew the short stick on the fast food?

(Incidentally, none of my symptoms are more than uncomfortable. We’re not talking the kind of sharp abdominal pain or vomiting and copius diahrrea I’ve been so delighted to read about this morning. If it were anything really serious, I’d be in the ER and not posting here.)

My WAG here is that mushrooms are generally difficult to digest; so if you ate nothing but mushrooms for dinner, it’s no wonder you got indigestion. The effect probably would have been the same if you’d eaten nothing but button (i.e. “plain white”) mushrooms for dinner, although it’s possible that your stomach finds some species easier to digest than others.

I’m sure someone who knows what they’re talking about will be along shortly, though.

Portobello mushrooms are just a different variety of the same cultivated species of ordinary shop mushroom (agaricus bisporus) - pretty innocuous.

Some people are mildly allergic to some species of agaricus though and it could be that, or it could be that there was a thin film of mould or bacterial bloom on the cap of the mushrooms (quite common in the brown varieties) to which you were mildly allergic, or it could be that you ingested a little bit of the soil in which they are grown, which is sterile when it is inoculated with the mushroom spawn, but can’t possibly still be sterile by the time fruiting bodies appear.

Or it could just be a physical thing; mushrooms are slippery things made of mostly water - the digestive system can sometimes have problems with this sort of stuff simply because of the physical properties of it.

If you really like mushrooms, you should reconsider this position; there are a number of edible species that are really easy to identify; impossible to mistake for anything dangerous and the flavour will knock your socks off!

I found a perfect specimen of Boletus Edulis (AKA Cep or Porcini) the other day and the experience of eating it was out of this world.

The best way to get started (unless you want to immerse yourself in reference books) is to go along with someone who has been picking wild mushrooms for years, has studied the books and knows what they are looking for.

Bad poop.
Naughty naughty poop.
Go to your room until you can behave yourself when you come out.

Um, now how much butter was that? :slight_smile:

Heh! Not so much butter–maybe a tablespoon.

I’m still queasy, but thank you, Mangetout, all that makes sense. I will moderate my mushroom consumption in the future on the off chance it’s an allergy. I’ve got a bottle of gingerale, which is pretty much all I’ve consumed today, and Mr. Cameron had to cook his own lunch. Fortunately paidhi girl can make her own peanut butter and jelly and the three year old’s tastes run to quick preparation stuff like yogurt or slices of cheese. I’m assuming this will have run its course by tomorrow.

Occasionally, especially when the local paper runs things about morel season, I get really tempted to find someone who knows what they’re doing and try some. I am, however, extremely risk aversive, raised by an extremely risk-aversive mother. And I remember the last article I read in the paper about wild mushroom poisoning–I can’t give a cite, but the story really stuck in my head. A woman who had been brought to the hospital for mushroom poisoning was lucky enough to recover, although her liver was the worse for wear. When she regained consciousness and the doctors told her she’d eaten one of the most poisonous mushrooms around (for some reason the name Angel of Death sticks in my head, but I’m sure that’s not it) she began to cry, because it had been the most delicious mushroom she’d ever tasted, and she would never be able to have it again. When I’m tempted to try wild mushrooms, this story always springs to mind.

Still, one of these days I may just make a will and try some. Because I do like mushrooms…

Morels would be the ideal starting place for gathering wild mushrooms, if they are known to grow in your area, that is. the reason for this is fourfould:
-The fruiting bodies appear in the spring, which is quite unusual
-The fruiting bodies are compleyely unique in appearance (like a coarse grey/brown sponge on a white stick) - virtually impossible to mistake for anything else.
-They are incredibly expensive to buy
-They taste fantastic.

It is true that some of the poisonous Amanita species (of which the ‘destroying angel’ and ‘death cap’ are examples) are (apparently) very pleasant to eat, but to put things in perspective, in the UK (where I live), there are approximately 3000 species of fungus with large fruiting bodies; of these, about 100 are worth eating, but only twenty or so are actually dangerously poisonous. The poisonous ones are easily identified.

As long as you prepare yourself, there is no serious risk from eating wild mushrooms, because you will only eat the ones that exactly match every attribute (size, shape, smell, habitat, texture, season, etc) in your reference book - if something doesn’t quite match, you just move on and look for something else.

David Aurora’s excellent book MUSHROOMS DEMYSTIFIED has a page about the most common form of mushroom poisoning:


This is one of the best mushroom-ID references around, althought it focuses on the US west coast / northwest regions.
But then, how do you define overindulgence, and is it different for different mushrooms? I’ve gotten sick on a big harvest of chantrelles found while camping. LOTS of butter, though.

Bren_Cameron, are you sensitive to monosodium glutamate?

If so, this may explain part of your reaction. Mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and many other food stuffs can contain high levels of naturally occuring MSG. Mushrooms (as mentioned above) are also difficult to digest so a pre-existing sensitivity (if any) may have been compounded.

No No NO! They taste horrible! You do not want to go out and look for morels. They are not worth the bother. Really. I mean it.

[sub]Geeze Mangetout, don’t be letting other people know. The less they eat, the more there is for the rest of us.[/sub]:stuck_out_tongue:

Only time I found morels was in Norway, on my honeymoon. They were freakin’ EVERYWHERE, and I did multiple happy mushroom dances – I’ve been searching for morels for close to ten years now.

And I was hiking, and nowhere near a kitchen or stove that I could use to cook them up.


(Mushrooms Demystified is a great book, and my only college textbook that I still use regularly).


And boletes. They’re awful too!
Here’s a bit of mushroom trivia. Does intensive picking of mushroom fruiting bodies damage the underground mycelium? Will there be less mushrooms next season? Someone finally did a study of Chantrelles in Oregon in the late 1990s. They found that compared to undisturbed zones, the heavily picked zones were stimulated to produce slightly more mushrooms in the next season.