Moe and more, people are calling me for help identifying mushrooms. Sometimes it is easy to do, and at other times it is difficult. I thought posting a blog entry on the latest trial would help others know what kind of characteristics to examine in order to make an identification effort fruitful.
Mike put in a wood chip patch in February and inoculated it with Wine-Cap Stropharia spawn, Stropharia rugosoannulata. On November 4, he found a flush of mushrooms, but they had a beige cap rather than the wine colored cap he expected. He felt it wise to get a positive identification prior to eating them (good thinking). We met and he brought this mushroom.
Although the cap was off color, it had many of he features of the wine-caps. Michel Kuo mentions, on his web site, the occurrence of a light colored variety http://www.mushroomexpert.com/stropharia_rugosoannulata.html. Considering this, I contacted Park Seed Co. where Mike had gotten the spawn to see if they dealt with this variety, but they no longer carried Stropharia. In addition, I have read nowhere that S. rugosoannulata has appressed scales on the cap, which the specimen clearly has under stereoscopic microscopy. I was not able to get a good enough slide to view cellular structure. The cap has an orangish reaction to KOH, consistent with Kuo, but the specimen did not have a creosote-like odor. It was dried up however. The cap had the “pop” of a normally viscid cap when the wet finger test was applied. (Wet your finger and touch the cap while holding it close to your ear; you can hear a pop when you quickly pull your finger back off of the cap)
The sample mushroom was 6-inches in diameter and about 5-inches tall. From this picture one can see a spore deposit on a strong annulus (ring). I agree that the spore deposit is purplish-brown and the spore images under a microscope are consistent with Kuo’s. In addition, the gills are adnexed, notched.
The flesh is white; the smell was weak. There are also radial lines on the stipe above the ring. Below the ring the stipe has vertical fissures in the surface tissue. The base of the stipe is enlarged. Also, notice the ring is split in the next picture which is consistent with David Aurora’s (Mushrooms Demystified) description, as is the tan cap. .
So where does this leave us? Would you accept this as an atypical S. rugosoannulata and eat it? I am concerned about the appressed scales on the cap. Other than that, it sure looks like a Stropharia. Read Kuo’s description and see what you think. I’ll bring you my answer later. Feel free to comment. . . . .
Persimmon Bread with Hickory Nuts
2 cups flour
! tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
2 well beaten eggs
½ pint wild persimmon pulp (1 cup)
½ cup chopped “clean” hickory nut meat (I like mockernut hickory)
Sift flour and soda.
In separate bowl, cream sugar and butter.
Add eggs and soda-flour mixture.
Add persimmon pulp and hickory nuts.
Mix to a thick batter and pour (more like globbing wet glue) into two small loaf pans ( lined with parchment or waxed paper)
Bake about 1 hour at 325o F. Bread will be a moist, dark brown.
Original recipe from Euell Gibbons: Stalking he Wild Asparagus
While out this week, I found several Tricholoma caligata (left). I have never eaten one because the general consensus among the ‘shroomers I know is that it is too bitter. Michael Kuo on www.mushroomexpert.com agrees on that point. However, you can find instances of mycophiles stating they are edible and good. In fact, Susan Mitchell has a recipe for Marinated Tricholoma and Pasta Delight in the Field to Field-to-Kitchen Guide by Fischer and Bessette (see my sidebar link “Books”). The book speculates that there may be varieties with a range of bitterness. I decided to try and make sense of this.
The human palate tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. In addition we taste what is called umami by the Japanese and “savory” in our food culture. Creating foods with full bodied, complex flavors involves a combination of all five tastes, as well as aroma. Hence, I decided to treat the slightly bitter mushroom I had found as I would bitter salad greens. After some musing, I remembered the gyoza (dumpling) sauce in the fridge. It has a soy base and contains, among other ingrediants, salt, sugar,and vinegar as well as umami from the fermented soybeans. So,with a little olive oil and butter I sautéed chopped T. caligata and then added dumpling sauce (from any Asian market) and let them cook a bit longer until frond began to form, and then I deglazed with a bit of red wine. The taste was excellent. Looking back at Susan’s marinade one could see that she also used a mix of the five tastes in her marinade. Lesson: We may be missing excellent mushroom fare it we don’t considered the chemistry of taste.
I also found a patch of Rozites caparata, The Gypsy. They are delicious and worth being on the lookout for them. I simply sautéed mine with butter/oil and added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, soy, and red wine. Served them with a good Porterhouse. I get the loin portion and Ellen gets the filet portion. I thought they were great, but Ellen didn’t care for the texture. They cooked down thin and soft. Oh well, I ate them all.
There are still a lot of good mushrooms showing up !!!!