A Feast of St. George’s Mushrooms
I am a keen mushroom hunter and Sweden is turning out to be an absolute gem of a country for this. There is forest everywhere and it seems to be completely covered in mushrooms of all kinds! We live in a fairly green area just outside Stockholm and this week I discovered St. George’s Mushrooms (Calocybe gambosa) growing all around our flat!
Very exciting. I have never picked or eaten these mushrooms before, so spent a good hour poring over my mushroom books (especially this one) to make sure they were edible. Reassuringly, the books informed me that there aren’t really any other mushrooms out at this time (spring) to confuse them with and they fitted all the descriptions, so I began my preparations for dinner. I am told they are particularly good cooked classically with garlic and cream, but I didn’t have any cream so decided to put them on a pizza instead. I sauteed them first, as I do with all mushrooms for pizza, and finished them with a little garlic and white wine.
Leopold was initially a little suspicious of the mushrooms, but I encouraged him to read the descriptions in the books and identify them himself (always good to have a second opinion anyway) and once he did this he was satisfied. We tried them out of the pan and on the pizza and they were a delight. Quite distinctly different from the regular brown button mushrooms that we normally eat – the flesh is very firm and the taste is unique and pronounced. Highly recommended.
We live in an apartment complex surrounded by grassy verges and they really are growing all over it! Since munching the pizza, we have picked them on several occasions and had them in various dishes. There is clearly no competition for these mushrooms in our complex (indeed some of our neighbours clearly think we are insane), but more fool them. We now have a ready supply of delicious, unusual, FREE, gourmet mushrooms just waiting to be picked and made into our dinner. Yeah!
Am hoping to find morels next in the forest nearby. It has been quite dry so far this spring, but today it poured with rain all day so fingers crossed!
To see or buy my favourite beginner’s mushroom book, River Cottage Handbook No. 1 by John Wright, click here. To see a detailed post describing my favourite mushroom identification books, websites and apps, click here.