St George’s day is on April 23rd but these delicious mushrooms are in season from late April until well into June. This week, I squealed with delight when I visited my St George’s patch on the Isle of South Uist; there were simply masses of these early spring mushrooms. Perhaps it is a mast year. Fungi are objects of fear but also wonder. They pop up here and there and are Nature’s helper as they breakdown naturally produced matter. The hallucinogenic properties of some mushrooms are well documented and perhaps for this reason, people are wary of foraging them in the wild. Lewis Carroll’s caterpillar sitting on a fly agaric tells Alice
'One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.'
Foragers must learn to identify species with care, but once confident there is a wide range of hitherto untapped food resources to sample. Some are delicious. I rate the St George mushroom highly. It has a floury scent and is meaty, giving a useful source of non animal protein.
Some Mushroom Foraging Tips:
- Cut the stem with a knife and carry in a basket. Do not store mushrooms in a plastic bag
- Do not put unidentified mushrooms into your basket.
- Only collect fresh specimens
- Check the stem for maggot holes
- Do not eat any mushroom unless you are 100% sure of identity.
Do Not Munch on A Hunch
St George's Mushrooms and Sea Spaghetti Risotto
300g St George’s Mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Small red onion, finely chopped
300g risotto rice
Approx 900ml vegetable stock (warm)
100g sea spaghetti, rinsed and chopped
Heat the butter in a frying pan over a low heat and sauté the mushrooms for about 8 minutes until soft.
Heat the olive oil in a large, shallow pan and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring to gloss the grains for a minute. Do not allow to brown.
Strain the mushrooms juices and add them to the rice. Cook the rice for a further 20-25 minutes adding warm stock , a little at a time. When the rice is almost soft (has absorbed the stock) add the mushrooms and seaweed, and season well. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the brown sea spaghetti turns green. If the rice is not tender add a little extra hot water and cook for a few extra minutes. Serve as soon as possible.