St George’s Mushroom Calocybe gambosa
A specialist spring mushroom that pops up after April showers. It can sometimes be bought at markets and is one of the few wild mushrooms that can be eaten raw.
What to look for:
Plump medium sized mushrooms with white to buff coloured caps and chunky stems. Underneath the creamy white gills are crowded together. The flesh has a distinct ‘mealy’ smell like damp flour.
Where to find it:
Short grassland, lawns and roadside verges usually near trees or close to hedges. Nearly always occurs in ‘fairy’ rings of fruit bodies.
When is it about:
Traditionally they are supposed to appear on or around St George’s Day (23rd April) but can pop up anytime between the start of April and early June. Beware; there is a poisonous look alike so don’t pick unless you are sure.
Recipe: Fettuccine with Nettle pesto & St Georges mushroom
200g (7 oz) Fettuccine or linguine
4 table spoons Nettle pesto
125g (41⁄2 oz) St Georges mushrooms
25g (1 oz) butter (or 1 tablespoon oil)
Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until done to your liking. Meanwhile heat a frying pan, add the butter (or oil) and cook the mushrooms over a medium heat, try not to over fill the pan, the mushrooms with cook better in one layer rather than a big pile. When the mushrooms are well coated in the butter / oil turn up the heat adding a pinch of salt as the mushrooms start to exude liquid. When the liquid has reduced and the mushrooms start to brown remove from the pan and put to one side. Drain the pasta, place back in the saucepan and stir in the pesto until evenly mixed with the pasta; then place in a serving bowl. Scatter the St Georges mushrooms over the pasta / pesto mix and serve; makes enough for 2 people. This recipe works equally well with shop bought mushrooms. For an extra treat stir in a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche (or Oat Fraiche).
Note: Do not eat any wild foods unless you are 100% certain about your identification.