Wild Mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

Mushroom gathering, a seasonal event throughout Eastern Europe, Italy and France, is increasingly popular in Britain. The French are particularly enthusiastic. In autumn whole families drive to secret locations to comb the ground for prizes like shaggy ink caps or ceps. Wild mushrooms are sold in supermarket too.

Oyster Mushrooms - These ear-shaped fungi grow on rotting wood. Cap, gills and stem are all the same color, which can be greyish brown, pink or yellow. They are now widely cultivated, although they are generally thought of as wild mushrooms. Delicious both in flavor and texture, they are softer than the button mushroom when cooked but seem more substantial, having more "bite" to them.

Buying and Storing - Fresh specimens are erect and lively looking with clear gills and smooth caps. They are often sold packed in plastic boxes under cellophane wrappings and will wilt and go soggy if left on the shelf for too long. Once purchased, remove them from the plastic packaging and use as soon as possible.

Preparing - Oyster mushrooms rarely need trimming at all but if they are large, tear rather than cut them into pieces. In very large specimens the stems can be tough and should be discarded.

Cooking - Fry in butter until tender as they take less time to cook than white mushrooms. Do not overcook oyster mushrooms as the flavor will be lost and the soft texture will become more rubbery.

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