Interesting mushrooms in March - April - May 2011       . . . . . . . . . . . . .

During the Northern Hemisphere Spring it is not all tulips and hyacinths; at least not where I live.

It has been a great season for mushrooms, and I have found and eaten species I have never seen before

In all cases the camera was an Olympus E-3 DSLR with body tuned for accurate close-focus,
and the DZ 14-54 lens which has close-focus ability.

Ths one is Shaggy Ink-cap, Coprinus comatus, renowned as being a choice eating species.

              (Please click on the thumb-nail image to see a larger version, and on your browser back arrow to return.)

Shaggy Ink-cap; <i>Coprinus comatus</i> in rough grass

To hold in the hand they were unlike any other mushroom species I know; they were heavy, warm, soft,
and for all the world like the body of a freshly dead bird. These specimens were at the very best stage
for eating. Opened up, this is what the looked like, and this image shows all the diagnostic features
needed for sure identification

Shaggy Ink-cap; <i>Coprinus comatus</i> in rough grass

The whole thing is edible. This shot shows the cap closer, with some of the fascinating fine detail.

They are fairly closely related to more ordinary mushroom species
However, they have one unusual feature; they won't keep. After about two days they have auto-dissolved
into a jet-black fluid which contains the spores. In times past this fluid was used as writing ink,
hence the name "Ink-cap".

Shaggy Ink-cap; <i>Coprinus comatus</i> in rough grass

Into my ancient light fry-pan with some home-grown tomatoes and some bacon one piece went.

It was all delicious !!

Shaggy Ink-cap; <i>Coprinus comatus</i> in the frying pan

The next species is one which goes under the common name of Slippery Jack, due to the very slippery cap
when it is fresh. This is Suillus luteus, and it is usually found close to or under pine trees.

Instead of having gills under the cap, like normal mushrooms, this one has (yellow) pores more like some bracket fungi.

These are small specimens.

Slippery jack

With this species, the thin slippery skin over the top is peeled off ( it comes off very easily)
the yellow pores are taken off the white flesh, and the white flesh is cooked.
I prefer a short gentle frying in olive or similar oil.

Slippery Jack

The author of the excellent book I use for identification hasn't tried this one I suspect!
See "Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms" by Hall, Buchanan, Yun and Cole. Ian Hall said a Russian chef
told them that slippry jack is very popular in Russia and quite good to eat with lemon and garlic. When
asked what it tastes like he replied, "Lemon and garlic".
This does this nice mushroom an injustice. A litle bit slippery after cooking, it has a mild nice mushroomy taste
just as one might hope for.

In our area it has a quite long season especially if there is a range of microsites with pine trees to be found.

PS: I don't live in the Northern Hemisphere !!