One of my favorite ingredients in ethnic food recipes is mushrooms, hence today’s 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms post.
I love mushrooms. Morels, Shitakes, White Buttons, and lots more. Especially prevalent in Asian cooking, edible fungi is to me a kind of weird yet delightful food. So I decided to do some research and see what else is out there in the world of mushrooms that I haven’t yet tried. This led me to today’s post on:
6 Weird Edible Mushrooms
Here they are, in no particular order of significance:
Often called the “False Morel”, and with the scientific name, Gyromitra Esculenta, this strange looking fungus is considered a delicacy in the Great Lakes region of the USA, as well as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. It gets its name from the cap which definitely does resemble a brain.
And, while it is edible, it can only be eaten after being cooked well. Eaten raw it can actually kill you. There are some markets that sell Brain Mushrooms, but they are required by law to stamp warning labels on the packages.
If you are an avid mushroom hunter like me, you love foraging through the woods for your favorite fungus to dine on. But if you are hunting for real Morels (my personal absolute favorite!), exercise caution. Real Morels are a truly delicious and exceptional delicacy. But mistaking one of these brainy mushrooms for the real thing could be fatal, if not recognized for what it really is and properly cooked. Me? I think I’ll just stick with real Morels.
And Number 2 is …
Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s called the “Indigo Milkcap”. The scientific name is Lactarius Indigo. It can be found in Central America, East Asia, and also in the deciduous and coniferous forests of Eastern North America. When an Indigo Milkcap is broken open or sliced, a milky latex substance seeps out.
I’ve never seen this mushroom live, so I haven’t been able to break or cut one. But have read that the oozing milk is a deep, beautiful aquatic blue. In spite of its rather poisonous appearance, Indigo Milkcap is proven to be quite edible and rather tasty. It is rare to find, but some markets actually carry it.
Next up, on the list of 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms, is a particularly amazing one in appearance-
Number 3 on our list of 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms is the Lion’s Mane.
This is a bizarre and at the same time rather elegant looking fungus indeed. Looking at it, most people would have red flags going up the flagpole in their heads when considering it as a food. But, in spite of its strange and wary appearance, it is quite edible. Most commonly it’s called “Lion’s Mane”, and has the scientific name Hericium Erinaceus.
Other names of note include: Satyr’s Beard, Pom Pom, Hedgehog, and Bearded Tooth mushroom. It is indigenous to North America, in dense forests, growing exclusively on hardwood trees. So the next time you are out, foraging for edible mushrooms, if you see some Loin’s Mane – by all means, pick it, take it home, wash it, and sauté it up with garlic and butter. Yummy!
Number 4 on our randomly ordered list of 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms, is …
The Bleeding Tooth Mushroom
Now here is one butt-ugly looking mushroom if I ever saw one. “Bleeding Tooth” is its nickname, Hydnellum Pckii the name given by science. It has long been known to be indigenous to Europe and North America, but in the past few years it has been discovered growing also in Korea and Iran.
It gets its nickname from the “blood” that naturally seeps out of the younger specimens. This bright red “blood” juice has been tested and found to have anticoagulant properties. So, the Bleeding Tooth has medicinal merits, and it is edible.
You can eat it if you want. However, apparently the taste is intensely bitter, and it stinks to High Heaven! So much so, that people who have smelled a Bleeding Tooth mushroom say you would have to be starving to death with nothing else to eat in order to consider putting this foul smelling fungi in their mouths.
And now for Number 5 …
Almost everyone, anywhere in the world, has seen this common and ubiquitous mushroom. Trametes Versicolor is the scientific name, but it is nicknamed “Turkey Tail”—named after its shape, which resembles the fanned tail of a male turkey.
Even though common, Turkey Tail is nevertheless quite beautiful, and grows in a multitude of colors. Colors will vary based on age and regional location. You can find Turkey Tail that is dark brown, rust-colored, deep orange, gray, dark gray, and sometimes even so dark it is almost jet black. Occasionally very old Turkey Tail will develop a verdant hue—the result of a green algae growing on it. Turkey tail is not only edible; many regard it as having medicinal properties.
I have read some claims that eating it helps to prevent cancer. But my research also led me to reports that this claim may not yet be substantiated by real scientific testing (although it has been used in anti-cancer treatments in Japan for 30 years). So that claim is so far debatable.
Still another article reports that finally, now in the USA, Turkey Tail is being scientifically tested for anti-cancer properties. So the jury may soon be out on this matter for those of us in the States. Meanwhile, you can eat all the Turkey Tail you want (some like to make tea with it, supposed to be very good) and not be at all in harm’s way.
Last, but certainly not least, in our list of 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms, is the lovely Veiled Lady.
Veiled Lady mushroom (Phallus Indusiatus) is remarkably elegant, delicate and beautiful looking. Found throughout the Americas, Australia, Africa and Southern Asia, Veiled Lady is quite edible. Veiled Lady is used by Chinese chefs, who consider it not only tasty, but a healthy food.
The eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful lacy “skirt” of the mushroom, but then the eye is drawn to the attractive cap, as well. Coated in a brownish-greenish slime, which contains the mushroom’s spores. This slime attracts insects and flies, and in this way the Veiled Lady’s spores are dispersed, helping the species to proliferate.
So there you have it, 6 Weird Edible Mushrooms that you may not have known about before reading this post. Well, 5 mushrooms that you can actually eat without vomiting from the smell, and 4 mushrooms that are safe to eat without special precautionary measures.
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