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Wild edible: Lobster Mushrooms
Not truly a mushroom as the lobster mushrooms are formed from another edible,lest tasty mushroom when it becomes infected with a mold which then turns it red, gives it the seafood aroma and increases the taste. There has never been a recorded incident of the mold attacking a non-edible species of mushroom.
These are probably the easiest mushroom to identify in the region and are a tasty addition to seafood dishes.
When: August into October
Where: Conifer stands, edges of roads, Mossy areas or in straight dirt. Old growth conifer forests.
Distinguishing features: Orange/red lobster like colour is usually the first thing to see. Mushrooms form deformed “cones” with ridges in the outside stem. Have a slight seafood aroma. Flesh is white with brown/stained areas being bruising or older flesh.
Cap: Irregular, concave with cracks and can have brown spots which should be trimmed off.
Gills: False, may appear as small slight ridges that are “molded” into the mushroom itself.
Identifiable: Easily identifiable by colour and smell, nothing else looks or smells like them.
Preservation: Dehydrate well. Saute in olive oil/butter and freeze in vacuum seal bags.
Never eat a mushroom you are not 100% sure of its identification. Even when 100% sure, only ingest a small amount as some people have reactions to normally edible mushrooms. Always cook them first.
The underside of mushrooms are its gills. They are typically fragile blades, some have spines/”teeth”, some are more ridges, some are pores and others have no gills at all.
Spore print mushrooms – place the cap, gills down on a piece of white AND a piece of dark paper for an hour or two. This will tell you the colour of its spore print.
Stay away from young “button stage” mushrooms and older, bruised or damaged mushrooms.
Where does the mushroom grow? On wood? Mossy forest? Hardwood? Softwood?
How does the mushroom grow? Clusters? Alone? In spaced out groups?
What time of year is it? Most mushrooms have a season, finding a fall mushroom in the spring means its not likely what you were looking for.
Start out with easier mushrooms, join groups and go on identification walks. Always ask for help with identification.