We’ve just returned from visiting my wife’s family in the US, and on our first day back – rather jetlagged, we went for a walk in the woods. At this time of year, there is a sense of anticipation: when are the mushrooms going to appear? In particular we are on the look out for porcini (otherwise known as cepes, or Penny Bun) which are the holy grail of wild mushrooms. However, the ground is still too dry and there was little sign of our fungus friends.
We did chance upon some hedgehog mushrooms though – they usually come much later in the year, so it was a bit of a bonus. They are pale peachy coloured, and easily identifiable by the spines (hence the name) on the underside instead of the usual gills which makes them ideal for first-time foragers, as you can’t mix them up with anything poisonous. You tend to get a string of them together, so if you find one, look carefully around and you should find quite a few more. They will grow in the same area year after year, so take note of the location.
They are delicious with butter, garlic and parsley on toast and work well in any mushroom sauce, being nutty and sweet. Just cook until all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. They lose their taste and texture when preserved, so just eat while fresh.
We really need a good rain to bring on the rest of the mushrooms – and we have until the first frost which wipes out all but the hardiest of mushrooms. I will keep you posted.