Friday, April 27, 2007
I'd have to admit to the teeniest bit of jealousy when looking at Cook Sister's! photos of new season morels, why can't it be spring here? Well, the reality is that it's autumn and that means mushrooms too. The above photo is of a few saffron milk caps (Lactarius deliciosus) that were picked a couple of days ago near Buxton, after some recent rain, with more rain due today. So it looks like the mushroom season is about to fire up. Hooray!
After morels (Morchella spp.), saffron milk caps are the most desirable mushrooms that grow in Australia. They are in fact not native but came here attached to the roots of pine trees with which they have a symbiotic relationship. With all the pine trees growing everywhere, it's not at all hard to find them nestling in soft beds of fallen pine needles, or even the grass verging close by.
They are rather firm textured and without a pronounced mushroom flavour, even though they are a wild mushroom. These are keenly sought by mushroomers, especially those from Europe along with slippery jacks (Suillus luteus) which tend to come along before the saffron milk caps, but they can be found growing together.
There are a number of ways to cook them, with perhaps the best being to simply clean and flour them whole and fry in some hot oil. We also make a mixed mushroom ragu and other times, like last night, we sliced and fried them with onions, which we served with plain boiled potatoes and Polish style black pudding. What made the black pudding Polish style is the use of kasza (kasha), which refers to grains of all sorts, our pudding was stuffed with barley and buckwheat is also popular.
I don't advise that anyone should rush out and start picking wild mushrooms willy nilly, you really have to go with someone who knows about the target species, people have died from eating mushrooms they thought were safe. If you scan the food sections of newspapers you can often find mushroom trips being run by experts, these would be a great place to start.
Labels: saffron milk caps