FUNGI!   Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

 

FUNGI…….the call that Italians love to sound when they find mushrooms growing in the wild.  

On my way to a board meeting last evening at dusk, I spied a small patch of Shaggy Manes or coprinus comatus  growing along the side of the road on Lake St. Clair, inMichigan.  Early the next morning, I snuck back to the same spot hoping no one else had seen them.  Sure enough, there they were, standing up in the dew of the new day…….lots of them.  I harvested about fifteen mushrooms, cutting them off with my Swiss Army knife….carefully leaving at least half of them to re-spore for the next season.  Like most mushrooms, Shaggys, Lawyer’s Wigs or Inkys do not pop up every year. 

Shaggy Manes coprinus comatus
Shappy Manes……just emerging

Through out history, mushrooms have been viewed as being mysterious.  Mushrooms have a large underground root system called the mycelium, the mushroom part is the fruiting body which emerges only when certain conditions occur.  Thus many mushrooms “appear” overnight like magic.  The fruiting bodies contain spores.  These spores spring forth from gills located usually under the cap. Hopefully, these spores will start new mushrooms, and the beat goes on.

When you hear the words WILD MUSHROOMS most people want to run away. Stories of people dying after eating wild mushrooms are certainly true but usually very rare. 

The reason why I love Shaggy Manes is because they are almost foolproof to indentify. The bell shaped cylindrical cap is about four inches high, covered with tan scales, looking much like a British lawyer’s wig.  Shaggy Manes can be found through out the northernUnited States, usually in the fall.  They occur in clusters, or sometimes in “fairy rings”.  Once they emerge, they grow very fast.  You have to harvest them quickly because as soon as they emerge, within hours, they start to spore.  Shaggy Mane mushrooms are also called Inkys for this reason. Literally, Shaggy Manes will become a black mass of inky goo in just hours.  This process is called “deliquesce”  Shaggy Mane ink was actually used for writing during George Washington’s day.  

Shaggys turning into Inkys
Shaggys turning into Inkys…through “deliquesce”

Now the best part. The reason why all mushroom hunters get excited about stalking these elusive delicacies.  You get to eat them!  What a treat.The flavor of shaggy manes is very delicate.  All you have to do is lightly sauté them in a little butter and enjoy.  

Shaggys sauted in butter.......the best!

Shaggys sauted in butter……the best!

About the Author  Part time chef  Doug Cordier, is a food writer, TV cook, Certified Ergonomic Consultant and business man. Doug is the owner of Cascom Group Travel and has been teaching corporate and Italian cooking classes for twenty years. For more foodie thoughts and recipes, try www.askthecooks.com 

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