Earlier this year, myself and collaborators published an article in the journal Mycologia entitled “Not all bad: Gyromitrin has a limited distribution in the false morels as determined by a new ultra high-performance liquid chromatography method” (Dirks et al. 2023), the findings of which are summarized here.
Gyromitrin is a mycotoxin found in some false morels, also known as lorchels (mushrooms in the genus Gyromitra), and is highly toxic. However, methods exist to process toxic lorchels (particularly Gyromitra esculenta) to rid the mushrooms of most of their gyromitrin, allowing them to be eaten without suffering acute illness. People rave about the taste of these mushrooms.
In North America, Gyromitra brunnea, Gyromitra caroliniana, Gyromitra korfii, and Gyromitra montana are commonly consumed without special preparation, but not without controversy. Some anecdotally regard these species to be free of gyromitrin and safe to consume after thorough cooking. Others caution against eating any lorchels for fear that they may contain gyromitrin. Before our publication, no systematic study had been conducted to evaluate the distribution of gyromitrin in lorchels or the lorchel family broadly (Discinaceae).
For more information on the chemistry of gyromitrin and a review of the relevant literature, please see the introduction in our paper, a PDF of which is available for free here.
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