swe.: Brokkremla | nor.: Broket kremle | fin.: Kyyhkyhapero | dt.: Frauentäubling
Charcoal burner is a great mushroom that we love especially when the caps are fried in a pan along with some parsley, salt and pepper. Despite its great taste this a highly underestimated mushroom like all brittle-gills. Since it is not offered commercially in markets and requires some knowledge to identify people often overlook these wild forest gems.
diameter: up to 15 cm
months: June – October
colour: violet, green
habitat: oak, beech, spruce
characteristic: flexible gills
The fleshy hat is hemispherical when young, then spread out flat and deepened almost funnel-shaped with age. It reaches a diameter of 6 to 15 cm. The upper side is often tinted slate gray in young specimens. Later, the color is made up of purple and green parts, of which one color can dominate up to a single color.
The gills are white and are usually relatively thin. Unlike most gills from the family Russula, they are quite soft and pliable. The large, sturdy stem is white, in rare cases with a purple or reddish touch. The flesh is white, but violet-purple under the cap skin. It is odorless and tastes mild.
From similar species such as the Russula ionochlora or Russula parazurea, charcoal burner is easiest to distinguish by the flexible, non-splintering lamellae. Other confusion may be with green-crackling russulas (Russula virescens) or the greasy green brittlegill (Russula heterophylla).
Be very careful not to mistake this mushroom for the deadly poisonous Death cap (Amanita phalloides)! This might sound trivial for many but this deadly mistakes occur every year. Check your mushroom guide for distincition features and only collect if you are absolutely sure.
Charcoal burner are mycorrhizal fungi that are associated with various deciduous and coniferous trees. It can mostly be found under beeches, but also with spruce and oak. It’s main season is from June till October.
Charcoal burner in the kitchen
In the past, the traditional way of preparation for charcoal burners was to directly roast them on the hot surface of wooden ovens. Even if the methods have slightly changed nowadays, the purist approach of simple frying is still the best way to go in our oppinion.
Its firm flesh has a slight hazelnut taste and keeps its texture also during cooking. Probably the easiest way to prepare it is fried in a pan with some salt. Served with some bread this can make a whole meal given that you have enough specimens at hand. It goes also very well in stews or along with fried meat. In Italian cuisine it is also very popular in sauces for various pasta dishes.
Charcoal burners – 10 medium sized caps
Olive Oil – 3 Tbsp.
Parsley – 2 Tbsp.
Black Bread – 4 slices
Salt – on demand
Pepper – on demand
- Remove stems. You can use them in other dishes as stews but they are not very suitable for frying.
- Clean the caps with a brush. Avoid water. If the top of the cap is contaminated with earth simply peal of the skin. We usually peel of the skin anyway except for very young specimens.
- Heat oilve oil or butter in a pan. Put the charcoal burners with the underside in and stew in the closed pan for about 1 minute.
- Then turn the caps over, lightly salt and possibly. pepper a little. 3 to 4 minutes of frying is all it usually needs now.
- Fry until water forms in the cap so that the mushrooms stew in their own juice.
- Add fresh parsley (optional)
- Serve the mushrooms with (black) bread.
We have compiled this overview with the best of knowledge and belief, but do not claim to be complete and reserve the right to make errors.
Learn more about poisonous mushrooms and mushroom poisons here