Saturday 25 October 2008

Cooking with Shaggy Ink Caps

I have to admit that this was an accidental rather than a planned forage. I'm no expert mycologist, but I do know the commoner fungi when I see them, so I can hardy describe my surprise that, when I was walking home last night, I saw a cluster of Shaggy Ink Caps (Coprinus comatus) next to the path just outside a local park. Now, I know that these mushrooms do grow in and around towns, but it was still a surprise to see them.

There was a cluster of half a dozen, all with closed caps and with the stems just showing (as in the picture). I was only 20 minutes from home and I could cook them almost immediately, so I picked the lot. I should note here that shaggy ink caps contain enzymes that liquefy them. It's this liquefaction that, when the caps open, leads to them dripping black 'ink' from the outer edges of the cap. This ink being the mushroom's method of spreading its spores.

The problem is that, even in young specimens, the enzymes get to work as soon as you pick the mushrooms. Taking the stems intact helps delay the process, but if you pick shaggy ink caps you need to be able to eat them within an hour. But these are a delicate and flavoursome mushroom, well worth collecting. If you do collect them, here are a few recipes for you:

Poached Shaggy Ink Caps


12 young shaggy ink caps
1 garlic clove, grated
100ml milk
salt and black pepper, to taste


Combine the milk, garlic and mushrooms in a pan. Season to taste, bring to a simmer, then poach the mushrooms gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.

(This recipe reproduced, with thanks, from the Celtnet Poached Shaggy Ink Caps recipe page.)

Oatmeal Shaggy Ink Caps

6 shaggy ink caps, halved
1 egg, well beaten
salt and black pepper, to taste
plain flour
fine oatmeal

Whisk the egg with 1 tbsp water in a shallow bowl then season the oatmeal and place on a plate. Dip the mushrooms in the flour and then in the egg mixture then dip in the oatmeal and ensure that it's completely coated.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and place the mushrooms in the pan, gill side down. Fry for about 3 minutes, then turn the mushrooms over and cook on the other side until golden. Serve immediately.

Check out this page for many more shaggy ink cap recipes.

For all the wild food recipes on this blog, see the wild food recipes page.

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