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.


  1. Wow! gorgeous mushrooms. You're brave - I have no faith that I could tell poisonous from tasty and safe.

  2. Hi Tzippporah. No, not brave - that would be foolish 'Informed', is better. I only eat what I know, and there is a process of analysis. You don't just decide to eat a random mushroom.

  3. Lay off the mushrooms...... I want to see you in December. Please?????

  4. Informed or not, I bet Vince was having conniptions!

    As an aside, what do you(in USA) call those enormous, thick-fleshed dark-gilled mushrooms? I remember, as children, we called them horse mushrooms, but I haven't seen any for years.They sometimes were as big as side plates.

  5. Almost scored at the Farmers' Market today. The mushroom man had "Chicken of the Woods" - a lovely orange mushroom. He was sold out of "Hen of the Woods" - maybe next week! For a tiny moment I was thrilled.

  6. Don't worry about the mushrooms, Hen, I don't take chances. Raccoon poo is another story.

    Dinah - conniptions about the hen of the woods, and their raccoon locale, yes. Now I am having conniptions. But the blues were a certain ID. It sounds like you are thinking of horse mushrooms, yes. They are an Agaricus species...

    webb - eat the chicken of the woods, if you never have - they are very nice. I hope to find them again in Cape Town. They are summer mushroom and are probably tailing off, now.

  7. No sign of chicken in the woods yet.
    Summer is just beginning ! I check every time I am there.


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