Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Shaggy Mane Mushroom

When you’ve been away for as long as I have it is difficult to slip back in without making a lot of fuss.  But today, I’m back because we are heavy into spring and mushrooms are rocketing through the rubble of last fall's debris, pushing up overnight. If you can identify them, some will become your treasures to be picked and eaten for free. We are on the lookout for our favorite mushroom of all time – morels.

However, this morning Anita found another kind of edible mushroom on her walk and brought back a batch of shaggy mane mushrooms also known as lawyer’s wig, because that is sort of what they resemble.  They are edible and being one of the few that are easily identified, it is okay to bring them to the table.  
Shaggy mane mushrooms in various stages of maturity.

Shaggy manes deteriorate quickly, turning into an inky black puddle in just a few hours. They will stain whatever they touch. Not appetizing at that stage. In the past, shaggy manes, which are a part of the inky cap mushroom family, were used as ink for writing.  They are found in fields on hard ground and along pathways, especially in spring and fall. They can grow quite large – up to eight inches tall. Generally found singly rather than in dense clusters like their smaller ink cap cousins.

For more information on them – and a good resource on foraging for wild foods check out this Minnesota chef.

Although I had just eaten a dish of fruit and yogurt for breakfast, I decided I’d better prepare them immediately. But one precaution to keep in mind is that shaggy manes have a mild form of antabuse, a powerful drug that sickens people who then consume alcohol. Some people could react to it. You might not want to consume your favorite beer along with them.

One of the easiest ways to prepare them is to make a light batter of flour, water, an egg, and salt. Whisk it together and dip a mushroom. Saute them until crispy and golden in olive oil and butter. Can be seasoned a little more with garlic salt and pepper. Delicious. 

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