The October 2011 mushroom was the...
also known as the
Scanning through 22 mushroom cookbooks, I could find only one reference to the Hygrophorus Russula. In Joe’s Book Of Mushroom Cookery Jack Czarnecki has the following reference to H. russula: “A superb species of this genus, the Hygrophorus should be used the way you would use any of the better Russulas.” He does give 6 recipes for using Russulas. In various guidebooks H. russula is rated as a good edible. In Mushrooms Demystified, Arora states that the mushroom is listed as “edible and choice” to some but that he has not sampled it due to his distaste for “fleshy waxy caps”; a distaste that arose from sampling H. sordidus. My opinion is that the guidebooks and cookbooks vastly underrate this mushroom. I find it to be nearly choice and everyone to whom I’ve served the species has agreed. Our former President of the MMHC introduced me to this mushroom and he also finds it to be an excellent edible.
The Hygrophorus russula is a large mushroom with caps 2 to 5 inches across. The cap is pinkish to reddish purple often with white blotches and streaks of small reddish fibers. It almost looks like a red Russula whose color has been somewhat washed out. Young caps have an in-rolled margin that becomes nearly flat with age. The caps are somewhat slimy but that disappears with cooking and with dry weather. The white gills are adnate (attached to stalk at a 90 degree angle) to slightly decurrent (running down the stalk) becoming spotted with pink or purplish pink with age. The white stalk of the H. russula is 1 to 3 inches long and about 5/8 to 1 ½ inches thick. Like the rest of the mushroom the stalk becomes streaked with pink or purplish pink with age. H. russulas are very fleshy mushroom with thick, firm white flesh that becomes streaked with pink or purple. The taste and odor are mild. The spore print is white. H. russulas can be found scattered to grouped into fairy rings in oak woods predominantly though they occasionally occur with conifers.
H. russula has been very prolific this year and I am looking forward to trying various recipes with the mushroom that I have sautéed and dried. I did make an Italian potato pie for our annual Fungus Fest featuring this mushroom. The flavor is very good and I believe the mushroom can be adapted to use with many types of recipes.