MOREL HUNTING – The elusive Spring mushroom

Sought after by Chefs and Foragers a like MOREL MUSHROOMS are truly Mother Nature’s Easter egg hunt.

Everyone wants the Morel, it is held up as one of the holy grails of Australian foraging, along with Porcini, Chanterelle and of course Truffles.

So far in my foraging journey over a decade I have found all but Truffles and let’s be honest, finding wild Truffles in Australia is just not a reality…. we are not in Europe people!

It took me roughly 5 years of hunting from first hearing about these delicious morsels of Morels, asking, studying and looking, so much looking. When I finally found my first one I was beyond words. Especially considering the cost $200 per kilo!

So needless to say I was looking forward to finally cooking with Morels, I proudly arrived home basket of about 4 mushrooms in hand. This was a double miracle both finally finding them and also finding any fungi in Spring is always a rarity!

I made pasta from our chooks eggs, cooked up a beautiful creamy sauce with wild chives and Morels and served up with pride to my family.

I was so underwhelmed! I remember thinking “all that effort for this….” While the flavour was good, don’t get me wrong they are good and amazing texture and shape… but to be honest I had expected more after hearing Chefs drool about them!

It took me another 3 cook-experiments to finally find the perfect way of cooking them. Dried is fine and enhances the flavour more, but the best way is to stuff the hollow center of the Morel with cheese, dip in batter and fry until golden & crispy.

My go to recipe is Morels stuffed with wild chive infused fetta dipped in Pepperberry leaf batter – my Son Oscar devours them completely unaware he has just eaten $50 worth of gourmet mushrooms!


But how do I find MORELS?

& The answer from me is
” I won’t show you where but I will teach you how to find their habitat!”

Morel habitat is almost always native bushland, mossy wet areas with a perfect soil and granite rock combination seems to be a good hunting formula in my experience. However I have had some lucky foragers and Friends such as Paul (aka Speedy AKA The Spore Spreader superhero) who have had Morels pop up in their lawns or much in the backyard!

Yes we can all be a little envious of those who have Morels just pop up at their place!

I find that they dislike overgrown areas, but they do like to have shelter from other small plants such as tiny ferns and wild flowers nearby. Moss or grass is also a good sign, but actually seeing them is the really hard part. As I said they are nature’s Easter egg hunt. You could be standing on one and not even notice.

Whenever I pick them I joke that you need to look for Roo poo or witches fingers emerging from the soil, and that’s a pretty accurate visual guide in the field.

Keep in mind when you do find your 1st Morel that you need to slice is down the center and ensure it is not a false Morel by checking that it is completely hollow inside and no webbing across the middle that resembles a brain.

I am yet to find a False Morel, but with all mushroom hunting you need to know the look a like of what you are picking just in case.

Morel season starts Early August and can last until September depending on rainfall that year. This year should be great season with high rainfall in Victoria you may just find your first ever Morel too!

Happy Foraging and good luck

Ingrid and the Foraging Family

Mushroom Foraging 101

Mushroom foraging is my favourite of all foraging harvests.

This time of year is a busy one for Foragers, my inbox is filled with emails & I love the enthusiasm that fungi brings people, to be inquisitive & ask “CAN I EAT THAT?”

This activates the HUNTER GATHERER INSTINCT in all of us, we are all descendants of foragers & the urge to pick wild food runs in all of our blood.

Unfortunately the generational information that used to come with that instinct has long since gone and we are left with a dangerous lack of information about what is safe and what is not safe to eat from Mother Nature’s food store.

So I thought I would take some time to share some of that basic knowledge with you

There are RULES & RULES OF THUMB (or etiquette) to mushroom foraging

How closely you choose to follow them is up to you…

BUT I share these years of knowledge with the optimism that people will learn to do the right thing, have respect for the land & the amazing free food we are offered, without being greedy.


RULE #2 IF IT STAINS YELLOW OR GREEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE KEEN, If it turns blue it’s up to you, but I’m not responsible for what you do! 🙂


RULE #4 ALWAYS DOUBLE TAP- Always double check your pick before consuming

RULE #5 BE RESPECTFUL OF THE FOREST – Treat your forest well and it will serve you well for many years to come

Harvesting Saffron Milk Caps


TAKE A BASKET TO EAT, TAKE A BASKET OF RUBBISH – it’s something I always try to do, as I pick a basket of mushrooms I take home with me a basket or bag of rubbish as payment for the Free Fungi supermarket!

ONLY TAKE WHAT YOU NEED – It is very exciting when you find a whole forest of mushrooms ripe for the picking, but remember to leave some for other foragers, animals and insects that also see that as tasty food.

LEAVE THE BABIES AND THE GRANDPARENTS – When you are picking try to only harvest the medium sized mushrooms, leaving the small babies – anything under a 20c coin so they can grow up and be harvested in their prime & leave the Grandparent mushrooms to spore the next generation – anything over a bread plate size.

TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT?That is the question– my answer – is to cut, mainly so that my mushrooms in the basket aren’t covered in dirt and debris. If you cut the mushroom at the stem or if you pull out a mushroom from the ground then cut the stalk, either way it’s a matter of preference and some debate in the mycology community. I personally cut and leave the mycelium under the ground intact because that’s what I was taught to do and that’s my little ritual, but I’m equally not going to say someone else who does it differently is wrong either. You do you 🙂

ANY LITTLE BROWN MUSHROOM SMALL THAN YOUR FINGER ISN’T WORTH IT! – Most tiny mushrooms are inedible, difficult to harvest enough for a feed if they are edible or they are poisonous as all get out!

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS – Smell your mushrooms- trust your Hunter Gatherer Instinct- if something smells or looks not quite right – trust yourself & leave it out.

IDENTIFICATION – If you don’t know what your mushroom is & are asking for identification information please keep the following in mind… Take a few photos From the top with the colour of the Cap, from underneath to show the colour of the gills and the stem, what habitat it was growing in- what trees- was it growing off of some wood or in the ground? It’s also worthwhile doing a scratch test by scratching the cap and the stem and taking photos as the flesh oxidises so see if there is a visual bruise colour change- this is not a fail safe for all mushrooms, but it helps with ID. The next step in identification, which can be quite helpful is to do a spore print test.

Spore print test– place your mushroom minus the stem on dark and light surface and leave for 24 hours to see what colour the spore turns out to be- In some mushrooms this is the difference between poisonous and edible.

Rooting Shank Spore Print



SOLD OUT Saturday 11th June 11am-1:30pm @ Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve

Saturday 18th June 11am-1:30pm @ Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve


A day in the life of a Forager…

A day in the life of a Forager…

Today it is another cold day in the forest, you can smell the sweet damp in the air as you pick each mushroom, inhaling the exquisite aroma, this is lush, this is Winter, this is my time.


My fingers are frozen, the giant wooly coats are not just pretty for photoshoots they are a uniform for me, the only protection from nature’s test of a real forager in the mid-Winter forest she who can withstand the cold is triumphant!

With my basket, mushroom knife & stick and thermos of wild picked herbal tea I inhale the fresh air and take a moment to thank mother nature for her nourishing harvest for which we are all too grateful.

She is my life giver in so many senses, my passion, connection and grounding is the bush.

Not in the literal sense-shout out to my real life giver- you rock Mum 🙂

But Mother Nature is such an integral part of our family’s life now in a way I could have never imagined a decade ago, it’s a forager’s life for me now and there ain’t no looking back!! Although we may need to make a Foragers Anonymous meeting for me and all my fellow foraging addicts, we don’t have a problem we have a passion! 

My life and work now centers around the seasons and it’s just such an abundant mushroom season in the Goldfields of Victoria.


The wild chives are every where and the 3 cornered leeks are finally at an edible size some even with flowers already.


The Hawthorn berries are all but bare and to me this equals a foraging frenzy like no other time of the year!


This now means it’s my busiest time of year not just for work, but also for feeding my family for the rest of the year. It is a constant cycle of basket after basket of mushrooms being cleaned and processed to be dried, cooked, preserved and stored for the rest of the year.

20170501_171954This is how we have not had to buy mushrooms for over 7 years now. When its summer and dry we have beautiful dehydrated wild mushrooms that in some cases taste even better when they’ve been dried.

It’s also a time when a lot of people who don’t normally forage all of a sudden pick up a basket, put on some boots and get into nature, and for some a fire for foraging is ignited within them, hopefully along with a real fire at this time of year ‘cause it’s real cold!’

It’s also a time of year I find myself baffled and pleading again for people not to eat mushrooms they don’t know and please find a local mushroom expert to confirm in person what you are about to eat rather than rely on online identification.

20180503_0114182116237292.jpgMushroom hunting is a dangerous first time foraging sport, and your life is on the line if you are not an experienced mushroom hunter, nothing and I mean nothing substitutes first hand knowledge and years of it!

So please if you are a novice mushroom forager, attend a local course or workshop or ask around for your local mushroom person to identify in the flesh that you have the correct mushroom.

OR better yet come along to one of my workshops and I can teach you how to identify edible mushrooms, beyond a shadow of a doubt for yourself!

Check out our events page for information about our current events, You can also book in for a private tour or why not a gift card for a mushroom foraging friend?

But please be carful out there, I would highly recommend hitting the mushroom books at your local library or joining some facebook identification groups it’s a great source of area specific fungi information.

Happy Foraging

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Purple Nudist Hunting

Lepista Nuda. The elusive Wood Blewit or as we here at FFF call them ‘the purple nudists’

Purple Nudist mushrooms pictured with a few orange saffron milk cap mushrooms.

The best mushroom on the planet if you ask fungi guide Ingrid Button “it’s what I would order as my last meal, they’re that good ”
They are a very tricky mushroom to find and even ID but a purple gilled mushroom that smells like flowers and tastes like heaven is worth it!!

So on Saturday a bunch of brave Foragers joined us at the historic and beautiful Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve to graduate our class and become certified Purple Nudist Hunters. Complete with their own diploma of purple nudist mushroom hunting!

We taught the hunters how to read the Bush for the nudists specific habitat, and evryone at the end of the day had hunted down their first Purple Nudist!!! And we even found some saffrons and slipperys along the way!

We devoured taste testers of creamy wood blewit and native chive sauce on freshly baked homemade dock seed foraged bread. With a cooking demonstration of how to make it too, all washed down with native river mint and wild herb tea with a bit of honey!

Massive thanks to the great class who braved the sun showers and were rewarded with baskets of mushrooms and even a rainbow!

Tour guide & Wild Food Expert Ingrid Button catching a rainbow with a cuppa in the other hand, now that’s multitasking (thanks to Mandy Pitt for the great photo!)

Along the trail Ingrid found a few specimens of wild food and shared her knowledge on a few plants

Plantain used in the bread, great source of protein and vitamins.

It’s leaves are also a great first aid bush remedy to stop bleeding and aid healing. Not to mention a great addition to dried teas especially in the winter months to help keep cold and flu away, along with stinging nettles which are in season now.

Ingrid harvesting Nettles on Mass

We also had dock seed in the bread as the main flour which is a great GF alternative and packed full of nutrients

Up close of dried dock seed head in Summer & Autumn

We also had the fortune of finding some St. John’s Wort springing back to life with new leaves everywhere

St John’s Wort flowering in Spring / Summer

Congratulations to all our newly graduated Purple Nudist Hunters my you hunt many purple mushrooms that will make you groan out loud they’re so delicous!

Now that’s a story to tell and a certificate to proudly say “I am a purple nudist hunter”

One of the graduates Jeff Montgomery has made a great suggestion to make t-shirts ‘I am a Purple Nudist Hunter’ and we here at Free Food Foragers absolutely love the idea of that!!!

Special thanks to Jane Mallick a Taradale local for sharing a few bit of local knowledge on the walk.

HAPPY mushie hunting!

A 2nd Autumn Afternoon Session of Edible Fungi and Foraging Workshop

After a sellout first tour we’re happy to announce another one for anyone who missed out!

The 2nd of the Season’s Autumn Afternoon Sessions with Wild Food Guide – Ingrid Button.

Escape the daily grind with a weekend experience to really brag about on Monday morning at beautiful Mount Franklin Reserve – just 5 minutes out of Daylesford.(1HR drive from Melbourne)
Mount Franklin is an ancient in-active volcano covered with European style forest in full Autumnal splendor. You will enjoy an authentic campfire gourmet foraging and edible fungi educational experience.

Tour includes a short walk around the forest to identify wild food sources hands on, learn how to identify the free food all
around us.
Also included is a taste tester of gourmet foraged food, wild herbal honey tea to warm you up on an autumn afternoon and a cooking demonstration on the campfire.

Spaces for this unique experience are limited, so book your tickets quickly to avoid disappointment.

Tickets $30 per person
1-2pm signs and bunting around campsite on the day.
Sensible footwear, water and warm clothing is advised along with notebook if so inclined.

For more information feel free to contact the team:

Basic Bushcraft Survival Skills Workshop With Special guest Bush Craftsman Benedict Leckie

A new event featuring special guest Bush Craftsman Benedict Leckie combining over 35 years of experience & skills sets with wild food expert Ingrid Button.

To offer an educational and entertaining experience in basic beginners emergency survival skills.

How to find Water
How to start a Fire in an emergency situation
How to make an Emergency Shelter
How to find wild Survival food

Would you know how to survive?
You will after our workshop!

Tickets $40 per person
Limited to 20 places
Bookings essential

To arrange bookings and pay the old school way in the day contact us at or contact 0411434705

Wild Food expert Ingrid Button


Join us to celebrate all that is AWESOME about Autumn with AUTUMN-FEST!
At the breathtakingly beautiful country escape that is Taradale Mineral Springs complete with open fireplace and cooking demonstrations. Join wild food tour guide Ingrid Button on an edible foraging identification walk, finding morsels of edible plants and fungi on the spot!

Learn how to make ACORNS EDIBLE and even have a little taste test of some GF acorn flour mini cupcakes with rosehip sauce!
Come for a wild adventure in nature’s abundant free food harvest on offer all around us.
Learn from the experts how to live off the land and even how to reduce your food bill by 50%!

Tickets $10 per person
Bookings via trybooking

Or for direct bookings to pay the old school way please contact us at or 0411434705

Footscray Foraging Get your eats in the streets

Bringing a whole new meaning to street food on Saturday Free Food Foragers went West!!

Footscray Park is a beautiful hidden gem of the West, boasting the Maribrynong river at its base and a wide array of edible plants and weeds with peaceful picnic spots a plenty.

Melbourne lived up to its reputation with 4 seasons in one day. From 30 degrees dry heat to humid and raining to winds that tested our workshop setup to the extreme. Workshop 1, Weather 0

Wild Food Expert Ingrid Button having a bit of a Marylin Munro moment in the gusty weather!

Below is the inviting cow hide rugs in a Norse harvest circle arrangement, just moments before the weather took a nasty turn.

Ingrid displaying her potential skills as a game show assistant 🙂

Workshop area

An amazing group of good humoured Foragers joined us as we discovered what Footscray Park had to offer in the way of Free Food.

Tropical vibes

A few highlights of our discoveries …

  • Native Juniper berries
  • Edible Ginger
  • Mullein for cough syrup expectorant and tobacco alternative
  • Holy sun rose ice plant succulent with edible leaves and red flowers
  • Purslane with more omega 3 than some fish!
  • Dandelion flowers for syrup, jelly and honey infusions. And let’s not forget Dandellion root roasted makes the best coffee substitute known to man!
  • Black Nightshade- a relative of tomatoes with it’s edible black berries
  • Mountain Spinach / orach a close relative of Quinoa
  • Milk Thistle
  • Peruvian pink peppercorns

All within a short 100m walk along the path.

We sampled herbal tea (that wasn’t so hot due to a stove malfunction!) But still delicous with Wild Fennel, lemon Verbena and Native chocolate river mint specially cultivated and making it’s first ever debut at our workshops.

After our educational identification walk, we returned to the workshop space to get familiar with samples of the ingredients such as

  • Dock Seed flour and dock leaves which are used to treat bites and stings from insects
  • Purslane samples from different environments to show the growth and colour variations of the plant
  • Wild Fennel shoots, flowers and seeds and their various used
  • And to finish off dried Plantain seeds and husks ground to make the exact same Psyllium Husk product available in stores

We just wanted to say a big thank you to the hilariously welcoming group of Foragers who joined us today, it was so much fun to forage Footscray with you all.

And a special mention and thanks to Nat Bootle our Social Media Manager on her first workshop officially today and she was invaluable, welcome aboard Nat 🙂

It’s gonna be endless pun-ets at the Berry Delightful Harvest

Get your buckets, boots & gloves it’s blackberry picking time!
Pick as many as you can to help the environment

Demonstration by wild food expert Ingrid Button of blackberry & Apple Sauce making
BYO small jar to take some home!

$20 per person kids free
0411434705 for further details or direct cash bookings

Meeting point @ The Chewton Red Hill Hotel = 163 Main Rd Chewton Victoria 3451

Berry harvest location is a closely guarded secret!

On Sunday 25 February 2018 at 4:00pm -5pm

Black Berry & Carob ‘choc’ dock seed cake with blackberry sauce

Wild Food Guide Ingrid Button