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Is it safe to eat maggots/mealworms?
June 15, 2010 7:12 PM   Subscribe

A friend gave me some freshly picked porcini (boletus) mushrooms. Some of the bigger ones which looked fine on the outside, were almost hollow and full of bugs inside. They were squiggly white worm-like, with black heads. Either maggots or mealworms. I don't have a problem eating insects, but was wondering if it's safe to eat this particular type of bug? Thanks.
posted by matrushka to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
 
NO, boletes that are grub-filled are a one way ticket to indigestion. Toss 'em and check the smaller ones also. One or two maggots? You can just remove that offending part of the mushroom. But if it has tons and is hollow it is passed it's prime. This is my practice and that of the more experienced/professional mushroom people I run with.

That's the heartbreak of finding large boletes in the wild, sometimes the maggots get there first. I just had this experience last week, had to toss half my basket upon getting back to camp.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 7:20 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Always ate a lot of freshly picked porcini (and a lot of the small larvae, probably) never had any particular problem; if there's so many, tho, you might want to discard the mushrooms (sometimes you end up having more larvae than actual mushroom), or try to salvage them by slicing them thinly and dry them, either in the sun or in a food dryer.
posted by _dario at 7:20 PM on June 15, 2010


(but yes, as Maude_the_destroyer says, more than a few and there's probably little to save there anyway, hollowed out = toss)
posted by _dario at 7:22 PM on June 15, 2010


heartbreaking, I'm sorry to hear it, but, yeah, gotta be tossed.
posted by TheBones at 7:41 PM on June 15, 2010


To clarify, I believe the OP is asking about eating the bugs, not the mushrooms.
posted by moira at 7:46 PM on June 15, 2010


They're probably safe, but make sure they're cooked first.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2010


If you really feel like it, maggots are a good source of protein. Can't think of any that would be harmful to eat.

Sauteed with butter, they sometimes taste like popcorn (mealworms) or have a nutty flavor.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:26 PM on June 15, 2010


Great answers - thanks all!
posted by matrushka at 12:53 AM on June 16, 2010


One thing you might consider that folks often do with morels is to soak the mushrooms in salt water just before cooking. This usually causes the little critters to float to the top of the bowl.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:57 AM on June 16, 2010


One thing you might consider that folks often do with morels is to soak the mushrooms...

Problem with porcini is that if you soak them they get really slimy/even more slimy. Perhaps still okay for stubby pasta'n'cream, but otherwise, ugh.

Indigestion: if a boletus isn't only worm-filled but also has funny yellow areas around places of the stem, sometimes even a funny shape, it likely has a fungus infection (forget what it's called) and then it is indeed not good to eat.
Other than that, I've seen many, many otherwise pristine specimens with quite a lot of maggots in the cap and stem, where I just cut around the infested areas and ate the rest. No indigestion. And I don't like maggots (I guess).
So my recommendation would be to discard anything of the mushroom that's (or: any of the mushrooms that are) soft, discolored, spongy or has a funny smell. Otherwise, if you really feel good about it, listen to bolognius maximus.

(Make sure you've actually got porcini (and not the bitter look-alikes). June is awfully early for porcini.)
posted by Namlit at 3:54 AM on June 16, 2010


If you have bugs inside the mushrooms it is probably for a reason due to rot or some other problem. Toss them.
posted by JJ86 at 7:39 AM on June 16, 2010


Indigestion: if a boletus isn't only worm-filled but also has funny yellow areas around places of the stem, sometimes even a funny shape, it likely has a fungus infection (forget what it's called) and then it is indeed not good to eat.

I believe you may be referring to the spongy gills, which turn slimy when old and should be trimmed off?

(Make sure you've actually got porcini (and not the bitter look-alikes). June is awfully early for porcini.)

They're definitely spring porcinis.
posted by matrushka at 1:41 PM on June 16, 2010


If you have bugs inside the mushrooms it is probably for a reason due to rot or some other problem.
The "problem" is that porcini are good, that the little flies whose maggots we're talking about know this as well as we do, and that they've (clearly; in this case) been there before the OP's friend. No rot involved. Rot may ensue, but that's neither here nor there.

I believe you may be referring to the spongy gills, which turn slimy when old and should be trimmed off?

I was thinking of Apiocrea chrysosperma which has the amusing Swedish name gul svampsnylting. Porcini that have been attacked by this parasite are not good to eat. But you're right, old yellow spongy gills are better trimmed off as well.
posted by Namlit at 2:40 PM on June 16, 2010


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