Tag Archives: mushrooms

Fungi

Fungus

The local churchyard seems to be alive with psilocybe cyanescens – if I’m identifying correctly. There are pounds of them, no joke, following the mower going over the grass last week and a wet, warm spell. Impressive, but I find day to day life weird and disjointed enough without the need for psychoactives.

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Seasonal Food Week N0. 6 – Fairy Ring Mushrooms


For centuries, there have been many risks attributed to entering fairy rings or picking the fungi. If you really must try one of these recipes, but really are concerned for your safety, try carrying thyme with you, or spreading it across the ring before picking. This is said to confuse the fairies and remove the risk they might pose without any lasting harm.

One definite risk is mis-identification. Marasmius oreades, although by far the most common, is not the only fungus to grow in a ring formation. Notably, a couple of the clitocybes are toxic and must be avoided (clitocybes always sound to me like an alien race of murderous, rapacious females, probably in a David Cronenberg film). Until you are sure of what you’re looking for, always carry a good guide book, with photographs, not drawings.

Fairy Ring mushrooms are easily dried, after removing the woody, inedible stalks, and can be stored whole or powdered. In his Family Cook Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says they pickle well. Haven’t tried it myself, but all edible fungi seem to be good for pickling. Just make sure you use a recipe which jars them in oil, not brine.

Fairy Ring Omelette
Three Fairy Ring Recipes
Pasta Sauce & Risotto Recipes

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Seasonal Food Week No. 1 – Shaggy Ink Cap

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Shaggy ink caps will never appear in the shops and very rarely, if at all, on the resaurant menu, as within a few hours of picking they quickly deliquesce, that is turn into a stinking black sludge. (But I recently read of someone who succesfully dries them in a dehydrator.)
Despite this they’re quite common in summer and early autumn, appearing everywhere from disturbed ground to punching up through the pavement. And they’re delicious.
There’s been speculation that they can make some people ill if taken with alcohol, but that seems to be due to confusion with the Common Ink Cap, which looks quite different.

Fried Shaggy Ink Cap with Eggs

Shaggy Ink Cap Soup

Shaggy Ink Cap Ketchup

I’m using the phrase ‘seasonal food’ to indicate those foods which, generally, are only available in their growing season, so many are wild and all grow in the UK.

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Recipe Selection

Quick Japanese pickles These were featured in an episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest tv series.

Rhubarb Marmalade I first made this as a teenager, from rhubarb taken from my then girlfriend’s grandad’s allotment in Retford, which is now a car park.

Vegetarian “Haggis” Someone referred to this, unkindly I thought, as ‘vegetarian placenta’.

The Working Class Foodies collection A very good, ever growing collection of video recipes from a New York based brother and sister.

Recipes from the superb SavoryJapan website. The blog is worth a look, too.

Finally, one of mine –

Pickled Mushrooms

The commercial pickled mushrooms I’ve found in central/eastern european food stores (such as Babushka in Mansfield) have been disappointing. I don’t remember where I found the original basis for this recipe, but it is simple, adaptable and delicious.

Half pint cider vinegar
1 pint water
1 dessertspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
These quantities are variable, you need enough to cover the mushrooms you are pickling.

Bring to the boil then add –
black peppercorns, 5 or 6
grated rind of half a lemon
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 or 4 cloves of crushed garlic
3 or 4 fresh, dried or pickled birds eye chillies (red or green, red is a nice colour contrast)

Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes

Add sliced mushrooms and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Tip into a colander and leave to drain for a few minutes.

Pack into sterilised jars along with one each of the chillies and garlic cloves and cover with olive oil.

I make this whenever I spot cut price mushrooms on the market or in the supermarket. It should also work well with whole “fairy ring” mushrooms, although I have yet to try that.

In my experience, the jars keep for at least 2 months.

Lovely as an accompaniment, stirred into pasta/ pasta sauce or added to the toppings of home made pizza or even store bought pizza.

[Image from scorzonera’s fungi flickr set]

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