An authentic travel & adventure blog feat. advice, tips, photography and stories about life and culture in the Northern countries.
[swe.: Brokkremla | nor.: Broket kremle | fin.: Kyyhkyhapero | dt.: Frauentäubling]
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.
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.
Find some inspiration in some of our other mushroom recipes
[swe.: Stolt fjällskivling | nor.: Parasollsopp | fin.: Ukonsieni | dt.: Riesenschirmling]
Parasol mushrooms can be found all over the world and they are a very welcome food source in most kitchens. With a general hight of up tp 40 cm and a cap diameter almost equally to that, this a giant among edible fungi – the guardians of the forest.
[swe.: Vårtig röksvamp | nor.: Vorterøyksopp | fin.: Känsätuhkelo | dt.: Flaschen-Stäubling, Flaschenbovist]
Everyone has seen puffballs in one form or the other. They grow in parks as well as in forests and are present all over Europe. For obvious reasons the English name derives from the olive-brown spore dust that leaks or “puffs” from older specimen. There are several puffball species that are suitable for kitchen purposes but not all of them taste great. Our recipe refers here to the common puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum). Young specimens are very suitable for kitchen use as long as they are purely white inside. Usually they are fried or sautéed in butter until golden.
[swe.: Blomkålsvamp | nor.: Blomkålsopp | fin.: Kurttusieni | dt.: Krause Glucke, Fette Henne]
The cauliflower mushroom is enrichment in every kitchen – easy to identify, big and very tasty. Unlike most mushrooms it has a firm to crispy bite almost like noodles. For us S. crispa ranks among the best mushrooms out there and we make sure to be there when the season starts – usually in autumn.
diameter: up to 30 cm and more
months: August – November
structure: elastic, tough, rubbery, brittle
habitat: root network of pine, sometimes on other coniferous wood as spruce.
The mushroom is usually easily identified due to it’s large size and dense, countless interconnected coils, which in the broadest sense are reminiscent of pasta or even a picture of a brain. The most common confusion is with its close relative Sparassis brevipes that usually live on hardwood as oak. It’s bigger with broader folds and also edible but considered less tasty. In very rare cases they might also be mistaken for species from the genus Ramaria better known as coral mushrooms. Careful there since the genus Ramaria hosts some poisonous specimen that should be avoided.
There are also some bad news though – the cauliflower mushroom is not easiest to find and in some areas you will spend seasons without finding one. The good news is, once you are lucky to find one you are usually to encounter more in the same area so open your eyes. And it gets even better since the mushroom (fruiting body) is set to appear every year in the same place if harvest correctly. So mark your spot and be there next season in time.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison. S. crispa is a parasitic mushroom and especially trees will suffer an infestation. The fungus penetrates the tree where the roots are injured and causes the wood to rot there. While forest rangers and wood owners might not be pleased by its appearance the mushroom enthusiast is very appreciative. Cauliflower also have marked value and are commercially cultivated in some parts of the world.
Cauliflower mushrooms can be found all over the northern hemisphere and in Europe reaching as far North as the southern coastal regions of Scandinavia, especially Sweden.
The raw meat is somewhat gristly, the smell aromatic and the texture slightly rubbery. When prepared, couliflower mushrooms are firm to the bite and tasty. The taste can be compared to that of the edible morel. Even when cut, it can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a week or more, but it can also be used in a dried form for sauces.
Sparassisa crispa makes a great contribution to different soups and can be used as noodle substitute along with different sauces. They are also very popular fried and often mixed with egg. A good addition are also vegetables like eggplant, sorrel, carrots, celery, onions and different herbs such as parsley, thyme and basil.
The cleaning of the fruiting body from slightly ingrown soil residues is a bit complicated and can be a painful prcedure. Due to its dense structure a lot of unwanted guests and dirt can get trapped inside – so make sure to inspect it properly before cooking it. There are tow main options we propose:
- Dip the mushroom briefly in boiling water. This gives it more elasticity and makes it easier to rinse under running water. Since couliflower mushrooms do not absorb a lot of moisture you are save even if you are frying them.
- Cut the mushroom in 2 – 3 cm thick slices and put it in a bowl of water. This makes it easier to remove pine needles and unwanted inhabitants.
Our recipe of choice we only dip the raw mushroom in egg and fry it.
Sparassis crispa – 400 g
Egg – 1
Olive oil – 3 sp
Parsley – ½ table spoon
Salt, pepper – on demand
- Clean the cauliflower mushroom properly. Make sure to get rid of all uninvited guests
- Cut the mushrooms in bite-sized pieces. If you have a very large specimen you can also cut 2 cm thick slices.
- Put the egg in a bowl and dip the mushroom pieces into it until the whole mushroom is covered.
- Heat up the butter in a pan and fry the cauliflower mushroom from both sides.
- Add salt, pepper and the parsley after turning the mushrooms for the first time
- Fry until they get a golden crisp texture. Usually around 2 minutes per side will do.
- Serve with (dark) bread or toast
Sparassis brevipes can be prepared in a similar way. It can have a thougher texture though and will not meet everyones standard. The best thing is to try for yourself.
Learn about mushrooms in Scandinavia
swe.: Fjällig bläcksvamp | nor.: Matbleksopp | fin.: Suomumustesieni | dt.: Schopftintling
This extraordinary mushroom is difficult to overlook but only exceedingly few people are aware of its culinary potential. Younger specimen can be sautéed or served in a soup and many compare the taste of the young stems to asparagus. Be quick though, once the shaggy mane opens its cap, an odd process of decay sets in that transforms the mushroom into black slime. Use it fresh is the motto here probably more than with any other mushroom.
[swe.: kantarell | nor.: kantarell | fin.: kantarelli, keltavahvero | dt.: Pfifferling, Eierschwammerl]
Golden Chantarelles are a wanted species throughout kitchens all over the world. The good news is, they are growing plentiful in many places throughout summer and autumn. Once you have learned how to identify them and where to look you can pick them on your own.
The amount and variety of berries throughout the Scandinavian wild is sheer endless. Summers are short but very intense and the long days make for an annual feast in the northern summer months.
Picking mushrooms in northern Europe is a great way to free and delicious food. With sheer endless forests and suitable habitats Finland, Sweden and Norway are a paradise for every mushroom hunter and those who like to forage their own food.