A message from Ken Litchfield
Some responses to Ken's message:
David DeShazer (added 2/19/01)
Charmoon Richardson (added 3/19/01)
in a December 2000 MSSF email mailing, sent a message
requesting information from other MSSF member’s about their 20 most
favorite mushrooms. The variety of their responses reflect the varied
tastes of most mushroomers, and include some very interesting
Originally I was going to include the
following in my next biannual newsletter, but as the responses grew in
number, I decided to make a special edition instead. Here it is:
Ken's original message
Back at the November Mendocino Foray after
Maria's dinner on that frigid pitch black Saturday night with the hot
chocolate and wine flowing in the big lantern-lit cabin with all the
colorful and rustic elfin aliens from the day's collecting sprawled out
on the tables for poking and prodding, Mike Wood was winefully
rhapsodizing about the various splayed fungi and their characteristics.
He got into a discussion of which of the edible specimens were the most
delectable and during the conversations he rated various species onto
his personal top 20 list, not all of which he revealed.
As I recall, he said that chanterelles
didn't make the top 20 but they were close. Number 1 was Man on
Butter Bolete and Shaggy Mane were both in the top 5, along
with some others in the Coprinus genus in there close by. I think
Shaggy Parasol and the Prince were in the top 10.
Boletus edulis was in the top 20, or maybe 10, I believe. There may
have been a couple others that he rated but he left some huge gaps with
the tantalizing promise that for years he has planned to get a
stimulating riff going in this egroup about folks' favorite top 20
delectables. Now, during this more relaxing holiday season, Mike, maybe
you and other long timers, and any one else, would enjoy posting your
top 20 delectables lists....
Personally I would like very much to know
how you rate the edibles, not just in the relative ranking to each other
but also their natural ranking, as in not just WHICH is better, but HOW
The following are excerpts from most
of the responses. The words in italics are references to a preceding
>> Now, during this more relaxing holiday
season, Mike, maybe you and other long timers, and any one else, would
enjoy posting your top 20 delectables lists.
OK...I'll take the bait. Here is my list of
my favorite 20 edible mushrooms, out of the more than 150 species I have
- Tricholoma flavovirens
(Man on Horseback)
- Agaricus fuscovelatus
- Agaricus pattersonae
- Agaricus fuscofibrillosus
- Boletus appendiculatus (Butter Bolete)
- Marasmius oreades (Fairy Ring Mushroom)
- Russula xerampelina (Shrimp)
- Morchella (Morel)
- Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)
- Macrolepiota rachodes (Shaggy Parasol)
- Amanita velosa
- Agaricus liliceps
- Agaricus bitorquis
- Boletus edulis (Porcini, King Bolete)
- Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)
- Craterellus cornucopioides (Black Chanterelle)
- Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower mushroom)
- Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog)
- Cantharellus cibarius (Chanterelle)
- Gyromitra esculenta (False Morel)
>> Personally I would like very much to know how you rate the
edibles, not just in the relative ranking to each other but also their
natural ranking, as in not just WHICH is better, but HOW MUCH better.
That just is not possible, for several reasons.
On another day, in another mood, I would surely create a different
Similar, for sure, but different. It might have different mushrooms on
it and it would surely be in a different order. Mushrooms are organic
beings that differ in flavor from collection to collection. No two
collections of "mushroom A" ever taste quite the same. Two different
cabbages always have different flavor...you should not expect anything
different from mushrooms.
Also how much you "like" the mushroom depends greatly on how it is
Some mushrooms are good a wide range of ways and some need a specific
type of cooking. For example, a mushroom disdained by many, Lactarius
deliciosus, truly is delicious, but only if properly prepared. It can
also be quite bland, with poor texture, if improperly prepared. Other
mushrooms are more versatile (i.e. Morels, Agarcus, Porcini), but even
with these some preparation methods are better than others. After enough
experience with a certain mushroom, you should learn what works and what
>> We're talking wild mushrooms here but you could include domesticated
aliens too, like marker species for a controlled common knowledge
There is one cultivated mushroom on my list that is not found locally
The Shiitake (Lentinula edodes).
It is truly a great mushroom. Another cultivated (and wild)
mushroom that probably should have made the list is Agaricus bisporus,
since both the wild and portobello forms are fine mushrooms. (As Bob
Mackler says "If it's not better than a portobello, why bother eating
A few comments on the list:
I have tried to only include mushrooms that I have eaten many, many
The one exception on the list is Agaricus fuscovelatus, which I have
only tried twice, but WOW, what flavor in such a small mushroom. There
are others (e.g. Amanita caesaria) that probably should be on the
list, but are awaiting more experimentation!
I have only included one token Russula on the list. As our experience
with Russulas grows, I do believe there will be more on such a list. And
the one on the list, R. xerampelina
(the Shrimp), could easily have been placed at the number one spot!
I have lumped all the Porcini species under
Boletus edulis. This includes the fall coastal Porcini (which we
call B. edulis and it could be the true B. edulis), the spring (B.
pinophilus) and fall (B. edulis?) Sierran Porcinis, and that great,
red capped Porcini of the Rocky Mountains, especially New Mexico.
I have also lumped a number of the Chanterelles together under C.
cibarius. This includes C. cibarius,
C. formosus, C. subalbidus, and serveral other forms that will have
other names after the "Cantherllologists" are finished. For example, we
collected and ate two other chanterelles this fall in Idaho that are
distinct from any that we get in California. There are also distinct
forms in other parts of the Pacific Northwest. But, from a culinary
perspective, they are all one species. They differ as much from
collection to collection within one species as they do from 'species' to
Although I have included Gyromitra esculenta on the list, you
should be aware that this mushroom CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS. Eat it with
great caution, if at all. I try to have one meal of it a year...it's
just TOO GOOD to ignore.
A few comments about what's not on the list:
Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare)
is a good but not a great mushroom. I consider it
overrated. It would probably make my 'top 40 list'.
Coccoli (Amanita calyptrata)...
OK, it's not bad raw in vinaigrette, but cooked it usually
tastes like OLD FISH to me. I have tried it many ways, and Jane & I
usually just pick it out of the dish and discard it. So why bother?
Blewitt (Clitocybe or Lepist
this mushroom can be VERY GOOD, unfortunately it can also
be VERY BAD. Local material varies greatly and I have been unable to tell if
is a good blewitt or a bad blewitt until it is cooked. I have had to toss
too many dishes made with bad blewitts. I haven't collected a blewitt in
over a decade.
Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.)...
although they can be very good pickled and the pealed stipe dry fried by
Patrick Hamilton were delicious, I usually avoid this mushroom, as I
usually find it metallic tasting.
And here was a response to Mike’s message, from Ken Iisaka:
>> From: "Michael Wood" A few comments about what's not on the list:
Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) is a good but not a great mushroom. I
consider it overrated. It would probably make my 'top 40 list'.
Perhaps the preparation may be partly responsible? Tricholoma
magnivelare buttons that I bought in Japan town at nearly $100/lb were
every bit as good as Tricholoma matsutake in Japan. The fully opened
ones at $25/lb at my local market were barely acceptable.
During preparation, you SHOULD NOT be able to smell the mushroom in the
kitchen. The aroma is to be captured, not dispersed. One of the finest
preparation is "Matsutake no dobin mushi" or steamed matsutake in an
earth pot. Matsutake really isn't steamed, but simmered in a delicate
broth made from katsuobushi (dried bonito) and kombu (kelp), and the
delicate aroma of matsutake marries with the fragrance of the broth into
an exquisite combination of flavours. Honestly, I cringe at the sight of
the photograph of overgrown sliced matsutake BBQed over coal in David
Arora's book. Sure, it smells wonderful as you cook them, but by the
time you eat them, most of the aroma is gone. If BBQing them, it's best
to wrap them whole, not sliced, tightly with an aluminum foil, then
opened just before eating.
After unwrapping, tear the mushroom in two, add a few drops of soy
sauce, and squeeze some sudachi (lime is an acceptable substitute) onto
it, then eat within seconds.
If you bring a pound of Tricholoma magnivelare buttons to my house next
fall, I would be very happy to make a 5-course Japanese meal
I will supply the culinary skills, and a bottle of the finest sake.
Ah, perhaps you weren't drinking enough sake :) :) :)
>> Coccoli (Amanita calyptrata)...OK, it's not bad raw in a
vinaigrette, but cooked it usually tastes like OLD FISH to me. I have
tried it many ways, and Jane & I usually just pick it out of the dish
and discard it. So why bother.
I found that preparing them in a cream sauce works best for me. Gentle
simmering gets rid of the obnoxious fishiness, and younger specimens are
better. Served over pasta with a generous serving of parmesan cheese
(reggiano, of course) the crispy flesh of A. calyptrata is an exquisite
counterpoint to the rich, creamy sauce. Dry, crispy white wine such as
Sauvignon Blanc complements the flavour the best.
I cannot assign ranks, but here's a short list of my favourite fungus,
grouped into four categories of "orgasmic", "excellent", "good", and
Tricholoma matsutakeMorchella esculenta
Boletus appendiculatus, edulis...
Admittedly, many of the species above are the ones I grew up with in Japan.
In response to this came a question
from Dan Tilley:
Thank you for your insights on Matsutake! I noticed that you grouped
Lactarius deliciosus right in with Agaricus campestris, Agaricus
bisporus/bitorquis, Russula xerampelina, 'shrooms that many of us enjoy
So how do you prepare and consume this oh so plentiful Lactarius?
Ken’s response to this was:
Salted. Salting removes the grainy, sawdust-like texture and
bitterness. It's wonderful in gravy, soups and sauces, but is also very
good as is. Slight fermentation adds a little acidity.
Then, Dan sent in this contribution:
I can't resist putting in my 2 cents worth on the favorite mushrooms
Although hunting and studying mushrooms since 1953, I never really
acquired a real passionate liking for them but objectively I do cook
them up and test them in various recipes which I try out on friends as
well as myself.
More From Dan Tilley:
- Almost any way but especially good with chicken in white wine sauce. I
have a secret spot where I usually rely on finding them every year.
- I dry and sometimes can these for gifts. They seem to be appreciated.
Although common, they are hard to beat when other things don't reliably
appear every year.
The spores of certain puffballs.
I save this in sealed jars and spoon it into stews, on omelets, mixes,
etc. VERY flavorful. Use with restraint....
Dan Tilley. Fairfield CA
In response to this message, I sent the following to Dan:
Dan: What kind of puffballs? How long do they keep in the sealed jars?
How do you collect and prepare them? How would you describe the taste?
What is the restraint for?
Dan’s response to me was:
Herman: Just the regular Calvatia gigantea, bovista or
cyathiformis group. They tend to "overflavor" if you use too much. I
usually use about 1/2 a teaspoon in a Chinese stir-fry dish or 1
tablespoon in gravy.
As long as the spores are good and dry (sometimes I help it along in my
mushroom dryer) they keep in jars for years. You can tell by smelling if
they go bad or not. None has so far.
I recently wrote
Dr. Dennis Desjardin
about this subject because I had remembered a comment he once made to me about
the consumption of the mature spores of puffballs, and this was his response:
Here is the best advice concerning puffball edibility.
Only species of Scleroderma and a number of Lycoperdon species are
reported to cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset if ingested.
The Scleroderma species are particularly notorious for causing illness
when eaten, but several Lycoperdon species have been reported as
phychotropic and/or as causing severe stomach cramps. I have read
no reports of Calvatia, Bovista or Calbovista as causing problems when
eaten, but most books say to only eat the young, white gleba and to
avoid older, mature fruitbodies with pigmented spores. I suppose
this latter advice is so people who do not know how to identify very
well will not confuse a Calvatia with a Scleroderma. So the advice
is to avoid all pigmented-spored puffballs. Since there are no
reports of illness caused by Calvatia and allied genera, I presume
that eating spores of the latter should cause no problems. But be
sure of the identification first...and avoid Lycoperdon and Scleroderma.
Puffballs have never been my favorite because of the strong flavor, but
each to his own I guess!
Hope this helps,
And this from Valeria Roman:
These are my favorite mushrooms:
Amanita caesarea. I only had it 3 times in my life but still
remember the flavor and aroma and look of the thin slivers made in
salad, with lemon, salt and bland olive oil. Said to have been J.
Caesar's favorite, too... fact or fiction, I don't know.
- Porcini. If impeccable and small, also as a salad or like
truffles, grated uncooked on top of the best ravioli. If large, in thin
sections, dipped in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and fried in oil.
- Portobello. cooked as above, side by side with porcini of the
same size, I cannot tell the difference in taste (and no possibility of
walking proteins in the portobello!)
- Chanterelles - C. cibarius, B. scabrum, Agaricus silvestris and
B. scabrum. All for addition to bolognese sauce. I also have A.
silvestris as salad sliced very thin (with the mandolin), lemon oil and
And this from Louise Freedman:
Ken and Patrick--Here is a prioritized list of my 15 favorite
mushrooms. Their qualities have much to do with how you treat them in
- Shiitake, because it is
delicious and versatile, even when added to boiling water and soy sauce for
- Morel, I like it best dried and reconstituted in cream. Great in
- Matsutake, (when I can get them), marinated in soy sauce, murin,
garlic and a small amount of toasted Chinese sesame oil. Grill after one
hour of soaking.
- Shaggy mane, the flavor is
unique. Don't be turned off by the large amount of liquid produced in
cooking. Pour off the liquid and return it later to the same dish. Look for
an excellent recipe, Shaggy Mane Chicken Tetrazzini, in "Wild About
Mushrooms" at www.mssf.org
and click on "cookbook".
- Butter bolete, a local bolete that is very tasty. You can't go
wrong with it as a bolete, no matter how you cook it.
- Candy cap, best dried. I like it in home made bread with walnuts
and in other sweet foods. And when you want to perfume your house for a week
- Porcini, it makes a wonderful pie, sliced and layered with
ricotta cheese, with garlic and seasoning added to the crust.
- Shaggy parasol, one of the richest tasting mushrooms I know. It
can stand on its own in any dish, fish, meat or potatoes.
- Chanterelle, it is beautiful to look at and easy to use, except
to clean. Great with eggs, sauces, main courses and appetizers etc. All of
you must have your favorite recipe.
- Blewit, again one of those mushrooms with a special flavor. The
taste is not always agreeable, but don't give up. They like to go with sour
cream and chopped onions.
- The Prince, stuff it after first buttering the surface. Keep it
whole, since it is one of the few mushrooms as large as a portobello, with
an almond-like flavor. Don't lose this unique feature.
- Black chanterelle, with cheese, cream, and cooked in a risotto.
- Oyster mushroom, stir fried with leeks and soy sauce, served over
- Milky caps, both Lactarius deliciosus and rubrilacteus.
Russian immigrants taught me to brush the caps with oil. Season, then grill
them until they are brown and crisp. Eat them right off the grill.
And this from Irma Brandt:
In putting this list together I discovered that the operative statement
in Mike Wood's posting is that one's ratings can change on any given
day...mine has changed several times before this posting and I'm sure
will continue to change regularly.
newcomers to the MSSF should not be overwhelmed and dismayed by these
lists of esoteric tastes and latin names - I know I once was - but soon
they will be rolling off your tongues and into your tummies too - give
or take 5 - 10 years.......
seem to be almost every newcomer's *first* favorite mushroom...and they
still can be included somewhere in my list of favorites, when they are
prepared properly...Mycochef himself prepared a wonderful pastry filled
with a chanterelle mixture, and a tasty topping, which he presented for
the SOMA potluck dinner recently. I also recommend anyone who has an
overload of chanterelles to offer them up to the chef/owner at Guernica
Restaurant in Sausalito. Knock 3 times and tell him "Irma sent you"
...Roger hails from the Basque country and I have never had a limp,
soggy, or untasty chanterelle in one of his dishes....they live up to
their chansons and they are merveilleuse morsels when prepared in his
skillet. And, he's always willing to do some sort of trade for dinner in
his charming restaurant. Perhaps ...as with Ken's vivid description of
the matsutake, all it takes is the proper mastery and knowledge of an
expert in executing the preparation of any mushroom to bring out its
choice quality .
My personal list for *today* is as follows:
- Craterellus cornucopioides -- ah-h-h-h the scent of the mystical
black petunia of the forest!!!!!!!!! This mushroom always somehow reverts
back to number 1 on my list. One might have many lovers that seem to be
number 1 for the moment, but there's always that one special one that
remains number one forever and always...(like me and Bill Freedman, caught
in the act in Bennie's bedroom - oh gawd, Louise, forgive us - pleeze!!!!?)
Trumpets, when they are fruiting fully and abundantly are, to me, the most
beautiful flowers of the forest. If foraged properly, they are quite clean
and quite ready for the sauté pan.
- My latest discovery and delectable mushroom would be the Agaricus
subrutilescens.....I missed out on the recent class given on the
Agaricus genus and wonder if Mike Wood might consider giving another class
combined with actually foraying during the right season, to the appropriate
habitats....to find these species and learn more about them in a hands-on
manner (so to speak) .....especially since he mentions several which are
still obscure and unknown to many of us......???? an immediate
question....do they all fruit around the same time???? or......?
- Gyromitra gigas - Yum-m-m-m-m ... Sautéed with wild rice, these
morsels alternate with my number 1 ranking!!!!
- Morchella - elata or esculenta - the charred earth and smoke
filled air is my least favorite scenario for a foray, but one of my favorite
edibles – Louise Freedman's recipe in Wild About Mushrooms for morels
stuffed with bread crumbs, bacon and walnuts is one of my favorites!
- Lactarius fragilis
- I have seen for the first time this year, this delicate little mushroom
grow as large as 3 - 4 inches across, in the *right* habitat – it too,
alternates in my number 1 spot. It is such a unique and versatile mushroom.
When sautéed with a little brandy and marsala, it combines with rice and
walnuts to make a most delectable rich-flavored savory sauce to accompany
any wild game, pork, etc. (forgive me all you vegetarians). And most know
and love its delectable maple syrup flavor used for sweetening desserts –
- Lactarius rubrilacteus - unlike the deliciosus, it is never
grainy or gritty at all...but has excellent texture as well as flavor!
Louise Freedman introduced me to this wonderful mushroom on that very same
televised foray...yep, we're a threesome! From my limited experience, the
rubrilacteus has a very short fruiting season and precedes that of the
deliciosus- which fruiting season is long and the quantity abundant .
Grilling brings out the best flavor and texture of the rubrilacteus.
And, I have recently had the good fortune too of having the deliciosus,
grilled by a master perfectionist, that lived up to its nomenclature. Can I
add a little plug here too for John Pisto's signature stovetop grill...it's
- Boletus edulis fall into the number 7 position on my list ... for
today anyway. They too do best, for my palate, when sliced thinly, brushed
with a little olive oil, garlic and seasonings, and grilled till they're
crispy. I also really like the Lecinum scabrum - I find their subtle
delicate flavor a treat in pastas – depending on my mood, I like them even
more than the edulis.
- I have 6 number 8's - 3 subtle flavored and 3 more pungent - the
delicate flavor of the Amanita caesarea. And the subtle flavor and
texture of the Amanita pachycolea and vaginata, when grilled,
is a taste bud treat of the more delicate variety...and there is just
something about the name vaginata that I find blushingly intriguing,
especially when in the company of one perfect pachycolea.
I'm not sure about the 4th of my number 8 - because I don't know for
sure that I always have the mushroom that I think I have...the illusive
"Shrimp Russula" (xerampelina) that has so many lookalikes that
will not necessarily harm you, they certainly won't tantalize or tempt
you to second helpings of "JAR's" (ref. Arora's M.D. ) I have often been
on forays where people insist the mushroom in their hand "smells just
like shrimp" and even though I respond "uh-huh" favorably cause I don't
want to seem uninformed - in all honesty, I don't smell the shrimp smell
- so in retrospection I can only assume it was JAR - albeit not peppery,
but DNS - definitely not shrimp!
The Agaricus augustus (5 of 8 ) and Agaricus perobscurus (6
of 8) - the obscurity of this species to the neophyte has placed it in a
position of reverence to me for many years...and finally, thanks to one
rebel sea ranch princess, I was introduced to a fairy ring of augustus
which were breathtaking to behold and to eat.......and...on my own, also
discovered my first perobscurus. This species has such an overwhelming
almond flavor that some might find it too strong and it requires careful
preparation to be really palatable for the multitudes. I have found that
the appropriate amount of bacon is the right combination for subduing
and complimenting the strong almond flavor. Because of its intense
almond flavor, I experimented with it in the same way as I would with L.
fragilis (candy caps), as a dessert flavoring - and it met all
expectations and deserves further development and experimentation as a
flavoring in dessert recipes.
I have a few options here too, which also move on a sliding scale and
depending on who's doing the cooking: Tricholoma magnivelare,
Sparassis crispa, Marasmius oreades. I agree with Ken Iisaka
on the preparation of the matsutake
for bringing out their best and hope I get invited to his house to sample
them someday. Bradley Ogden served a Sparassis in a broth the first year
Lark Creek Inn hosted their dinners to promote the Fair, and it was
Last but not least, CORN SMUT, Ustilago maydis,
Huitlacoche.........I love it!!!! Sautéed with shallots, and the right
Mexican spices and served as a taco filling with avocado and sour
cream.......it too can rank right up there in the number one
place...especially if it's end of July, early August!
I carried two Man on Horseback in my backpack this season and
brought them home, due to my ignorance they took a back seat to many of
those that I was more familiar with and some other recent new
discoveries that I now deem to be my edibles of choice. I can hardly
wait till next season to hunt down "the man" again ....
Happy cooking and good eating to all in the coming year.
And.......let's hope it rains soon!
And from Mike Boom:
Let me put my $.02 in about bolete tubes and spores. I always
dry bolete slices with the tubes still attached, even if they're green
and long in the tooth (or tube, as the case may be). The only time I
trim them off is if they're completely gooey or so long they dwarf the
white tissue of the cap. I know I'm in the minority -- most people trim
the tubes -- but I find they add a lot of flavor to whatever I'm
cooking. Some people claim they're slimy, but since I usually make
risotto or some kind of sauce with dried porcini, it's no big deal.
In my experience, older mushrooms have more intense flavors, and that
includes boletes. If you ever find a very large, old bolete gone
slightly soft but without worms (a "pudding head"), you might want to
give it a try -- the flavor's wonderful, even if the texture is not.
With a few other mushrooms, such as blewits, an older stronger flavor
isn't always desirable. And, of course, any mushrooms that have gone
over the line into spoiled territory deserve a wide berth.
As for spores of edible mushrooms, I've never heard of them being bad
for you unless you happen to be allergic to them and breathe in too many
of them. Some people, in fact, feel that much of a mushroom's flavor is
in its spores. They point to morels, which tend to shoot off most of
their spores while drying, and feel that morels are better fresh than
dried. In my own experience, I think dried morels are every bit as good
as fresh, so the "taste is in the spores" hypothesis is still up in the
air as far as I'm concerned. It might be interesting this coming spring
to scrape morel spores off my dehydrator and try creating a broth.
There's nothing like empirical evidence.
Something from me:
I do the same as Mike does with the tubes from a B. edulis, but
if I do remove the tubes, I dry them separately to use them later for
what Arora calls "Essence of Edulis".
-- Herman Brown
And from Larry Stickney:
Old Bolete pores
ARE very tasty indeed as long as they aren't creating an awful stink.
Lawrence Taylor of Auckland, NZ, found one large old edulis almost
buried in snow [preserved in ice?] in the upper reaches of Highway 50
during a sudden snowstorm in October. We were on our way to a Fallen
Leaf Lake cabin with Jim Coulter. Taylor's was the only Bolete find of
the day, so he had to try doing something with it. And the resulting
soup had remarkably strong traditional flavor.
Don't automatically chuck all aging fungi. Armillaria mellea is a clear
exception to this suggestion.
And more from Larry:
are indeed very tasty any way you can collect them. Just remember to cook
them in some butter before trying to do more with them, or use chicken
fat. Neither oil need necessarily be pure; that is, globules of them on
top of the warm re-hydrating liquid are usually sufficient to do the job
for soups and gravies.
From David Campbell:
Here's my rather arbitrary and decidedly personal list of mushrooms
that launch my spores.
*Hericium americanum--in lemon/cream sauce. This is an east
coast mushroom, our PNW H, abietis is delicious, but less tender.
Resembles crab or lobster, though obviously not from this planet.
delicious, meaty yet tender.
wild mushroom I ever ate, still in the top 5. Cooked briefly in
butter till limp, don't waste that natural sauce it throws. Sort
of an improved oyster.
to argue with a morel, best to just roll them in melted butter and
thrust them into an open campfire flame at the end of a dead-end dirt
road somewhere divinely lost in the high high mountains, then they'll
& silvicola-- I prefer their delicacy to the stronger flavoured
A. augustus, but only slightly.
Lovely to behold as well as consume.
they don't call it "King" for nothing. I've long referenced my
search for them as "big game hunting". They bring pleasure in many
ways beyond culinary. Favorite preparation...Porcini Parmesan!
& regius-- Butters. Great flavored densely fleshed boletes, and
they stain the purdiest blue.
The lemon notes are deliciously unique.
Man-on-horseback gets the nod from me over its cousin matsutake for
reasons that are no doubt culturally generated. Its meaty quality
shines in typical western cooking techniques, such as meat and potatoes.
(I am born in Idaho, you know)
Matsutake is densely fleshed (to a fault sometimes) with distinctive
flavor that despises butter and garlic type recipes. Tamari, lime,
broth, white wine or sake, ginger and garlic, seem to be the way to go
when concocting treatments. A very good mushroom whose value is
driven far beyond its sensible level relative to other fine mushrooms we
have here by the Japanese' fanatical devotion to it. ( Speaking of
cultural differences...according to David Arora, in Japan they pretty
much consider B. edulis as just another suillus.)
or fragilis, the Candy Cap. Dried gently, it makes desserts nobody
can believe. I find it delectable and with mentionably great
presentation potential as a fresh savory mushroom, also.
*Cantharellus cibarius group--
Familiarity breeds contempt, and over the years I have gone through
periods of disparaging the golden chanterelle, but then... I
revamp my approach to them and fall in love again. Lately, the
heartthrob has been a ruby port with pear rendition. Chanterelles
have been too great a part of my mushroom world for too many decades for
me to leave them off any favorite mushroom list. My favorite of
the many species/varieties we have in the U.S. are those which I have
collected for years in the Cascades of Oregon, which from my
conversations with David Arora, I am now identifying as C. cibarius
variety rosecanus. David believes that "rosecanus" will eventually
become the species name.
I am fonder of the flavor than the texture, otherwise it would rank
Older ones are just plain rank and probably responsible for so many
"allergic" reactions to this species. Nice young buttons possess
that desirable meaty quality.
Chicken o' de Woods I thought was a joke as per edibility until I
finally got a young, fat, juicy, unexpanded specimen. Now I like
Unlike most species on this list which require varying degrees of
cooking, it is best raw, with olive oil and lemon.
After all the fascinating exchange on this here chat room a few months
ago I ended up with the same attitude about this mushroom that I had had
before: It's too good not to eat occasionally, but because of its
pernicious potential it should be consumed in small quantities on rare
occasions only, and then only after careful cooking techniques have been
employed. Not a mushroom to casually share, after all, I don't
know of a book that doesn't list it as deadly.
I don't think I quite know how to prepare this yet. At this fall's
Salt Point Foray it was marinated in soy sauce and garlic then grilled.
We thought maybe it needed a bit of mirin to cut the citric quality.
Outrageously weird appearance with exotic texture and interesting
flavor, I think it may be one of the "sleepers" on this list.
It's an apricot colored toothed jelly fungus virtually devoid of flavor
but with a marvelous coating texture that adheres to the tongue. I
like to eat them on encounter in the woods, no hands, just put my mouth
down there and graze.
Not to be confused with REAL truffles that would be at the top of this
list if they grew around here, the Fuzzy Truffle is not uncommon in the
Sierras, especially in second year burns from my experience. Its
disappointingly mild, true, but it has some flavor and excellent textural
qualities and it's a truffle we can find in sufficient quantity to make
a dish of.
Off the list:
Would easily crack this list if we had them wild, but we don't and I am
openly prejudiced against cultivated mushrooms, and it is my list.
Shiitakes are great, especially the cracked cap Jo Donkos slow grown in
Maybe our next exercise in mushroom ranking could be "most over-rated
allegedly edible mushroom". I would offer
Lobsters, Honeys, and Pig's Ears in a thrice, if anyone would take
And this bit of information from David Bartolotta:
Arora states that honey mushrooms can result in gastric upsets in
some folks at some times. I've never had a problem with them...yet. As far
pores on boletes, I pull them off, dry them and then powder them in a
grinder. I use the powder in soups, sauces etc. It has a very intense
flavor. If the pores are still white, I leave them on the mushroom.
And, on February 19, this list from Darvin Deshazer:
Top 20 favorites to eat.
(The best to hunt for are the morels!)
- Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower Mushroom)
- Agaricus smithii (Smith's Prince)
- Agaricus augustus (The Prince)
- Tuber melanosporum (Perigord Truffle)
- Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog)
- Tricholoma magnivelare (White Matsutake)
- Craterellus cornucopioides (Black Trumpets)
- Hericium erinaceus (Crab Hericium, Lion's Mane)
- Lactarius fragilis (Candy Caps)
- Ustilago maydis (Huitlacoche, Corn Smut)
- Cantharellus formosus (Western Chanterelle)
- Russula xerampelina (Shrimp Mushroom)
- Amanita velosa (Spring Amanita)
- Clitocybe nuda (Blewit)
- Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)
- Flammulina velutipes (Winter Mushroom, Enokitake)
- Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)
- Laccaria laccata (Common Laccaria)
- Laetiporus sulphureus (Chicken of the Woods,
- Boletus edulis (King Bolete, Steinpilz, Cep)
On March 19, from Charmoon Richardson:
Greetings Herman B., PatrickChef, and all other interested parties...
Finally, the Top 20 list - which is, I must regretfully say, somewhat
biased by restriction of exposure. That is, because I have not had the
opportunity to try many of the favorite mushrooms from other lists, it's not
necessarily meaningful to compare to other lists... also, it's not
necessarily just flavor that I'm ranking by - sometimes it's versatility and
variety of good cooking styles. For instance, there are many more ways to
prepare morels than there are matsutake - so morels would come out
ahead of matsutake, even if I liked their flavors equally (which I don't -
morels are the best. But I haven't had those supposedly great
So, with those waffling qualifications out of the way, here they are:
- morel - especially from Lake Co. burn several years ago - the best!
- the Prince
- coast King bolete
- meadow waxy cap (Camarophyllus pratensis)
- crocodile agaricus
- man on horseback
- amber staining agaricus
- red capped butter bolete
- black trumpet
- candy cap
- gold chanterelles (early season)
- green capped russulas
- oyster (wild)
- lion's mane
- orange bleeding milk caps
- shrimp russula
(Note - any mushroom on list served with feral pig moves one rank higher)
- Charmoon Richardson - Oshroomgroupie
Nutritional Value of Mushrooms
In "The Complete Book of Mushrooms" (1974) by Rinaldi and
Tyndalo, I found
the following information under the chapter titled "Nutrient Properties of
Mushrooms", page 257:
One hundred grams of fresh mushrooms provide, on the average, 5 grams
protein assimilable by our body; more than our daily requirement of
phosphorous and potassium; zinc, about our daily requirement; iron,
third of our daily requirement; plus other necessary minerals, but in
..one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain about ten grams of
...one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain slightly less than one
..one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain eighty-five grams of
and a few grams of cellulose...
And then this chapter continues to describe the many vitamins contained
I also remember an owner of a mushroom farm near Solvang, CA, once
saying that mushroom farming can produce more protein per acre than
raising cattle. Plus, he was using the byproducts of some of the
local horse raising facilities, from horses that sold for many
thousands of dollars!