Thursday, 11 September 2014

Parasol Mushrooms

Lots of mushrooms around in Cambridge right now, and when we get a bit more rain there will be lots more. I haven't done a foraging video before, so let me know if this is of interest.

Among the fungi that do best in this city are the parasols - Macrolepiota rhacodes, M. procera and M. hortensis being the most common edible species. By 'edible' I mean easy to identify, delicious, versatile and useful, but a word of warning - some people do seem to 'not get on' with them, so as with any new foodstuff, try a little out first time to see if you're okay with them. I know, it seems frightening - but think how many people you know who can't eat some normal foodstuff you're fine with, and you'll start to understand that this is just how it is - a forager is exposed to hundreds of different foodstuffs that most people don't eat, and sooner or later you'll find something you don't get on with.

Anyway, here are some lovely parasols...

I won't bore you all with identification - there are better sites for this than mine. But I will say that you do need to take care you know what you're doing. Not that these look anything like death caps or destroying angels, but I'm sure you take my point...

When you've identified them, pick only what you need of course. They're fine just used as substitutes for other mushrooms, but I think you can make the most of them with dishes that rely on their light texture. Dip them in garlic flavoured batter and fry them fast and hot until golden, they're delicious. They make a lovely omelette. Or just fried with bacon. One of the finest wild mushrooms you'll find.