Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue mushrooms

Vince spotted them in the grass, and somehow I just knew (or wanted them to be, which can be mistaken for the same thing, and is frankly a state of mind to be avoided when mushrooming): blewits - Clitocybe nuda, also still called Lepista nuda.

The beautiful blue mushroom we'd photographed in Staten Island's High Rock Park in September had also whispered enticingly to me. I had never yet seen a blewit and had heard how good they are to eat; but it soon became apparent that it was a Cortinarius, and not good to eat at all. Poisonous. So do not pounce on and consume the first blue-tinted mushroom you see. 

I took a spore print. Always take a spore print. The spores were somewhere between pink and buff, and not the dark brown of the Cortinarius.

After consulting two books, four websites and three mushroom experts, and checking on the spore print, I cooked them.

The usual. Butter, a little salt, some pepper, nice brown toast. They were very moist, but did not have the pronounced flavour that I was expecting. The meadow mushrooms of August were more memorable, but I am splitting hairs.

Local mycologist Gary Lincoff will be answering mushroom questions in the New York Times, soon, and you may still post any questions you may have.

And on October 22, Leda Meredith will be conducting a foraging tour of Prospect Park. She may well find some mushrooms - oysters, maybe, perhaps hen of the woods. She is the author of A Locavore's Handbook, and lectures regularly at the Brooklyn and New York Botanic Gardens about wild foods and how to preserve them.
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