Special Issue, January 2, 2001
(updated 4/2/13)
Favorite Mushrooms
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown



A message from Ken Litchfield
Some responses to Ken's message:

Mike Wood
Ken Iisaka
Dan Tilley
Valeria Roman
Louise Freedman
Irma Brandt
Mike Boom
Larry Stickney
David Campbell
David Bartolotta
David DeShazer (added 2/19/01)
Charmoon Richardson (added 3/19/01)

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms


Ken Litchfield, in a December 2000 MSSF email mailing, sent a message requesting information from other MSSF member’s about their 20 most favorite mushrooms. The variety of their responses reflect the varied tastes of most mushroomers, and include some very interesting preparation suggestions.

Originally I was going to include the following in my next biannual newsletter, but as the responses grew in number, I decided to make a special edition instead.  Here it is:

Ken's original message

Back at the November Mendocino Foray after Maria's dinner on that frigid pitch black Saturday night with the hot chocolate and wine flowing in the big lantern-lit cabin with all the colorful and rustic elfin aliens from the day's collecting sprawled out on the tables for poking and prodding, Mike Wood was winefully rhapsodizing about the various splayed fungi and their characteristics. He got into a discussion of which of the edible specimens were the most delectable and during the conversations he rated various species onto his personal top 20 list, not all of which he revealed.

As I recall, he said that chanterelles didn't make the top 20 but they were close. Number 1 was Man on Horseback. Butter Bolete and Shaggy Mane were both in the top 5, along with some others in the Coprinus genus in there close by. I think Shaggy Parasol and the Prince were in the top 10. Boletus edulis was in the top 20, or maybe 10, I believe. There may have been a couple others that he rated but he left some huge gaps with the tantalizing promise that for years he has planned to get a stimulating riff going in this egroup about folks' favorite top 20 delectables. Now, during this more relaxing holiday season, Mike, maybe you and other long timers, and any one else, would enjoy posting your top 20 delectables lists....

Personally I would like very much to know how you rate the edibles, not just in the relative ranking to each other but also their natural ranking, as in not just WHICH is better, but HOW MUCH better.

Thanks, Ken

The following are excerpts from most of the responses. The words in italics are references to a preceding e-mail message:


From Mike Wood:

>> Now, during this more relaxing holiday season, Mike, maybe you and other long timers, and any one else, would enjoy posting your top 20 delectables lists.

OK...I'll take the bait. Here is my list of my favorite 20 edible mushrooms, out of the more than 150 species I have tried:

  1. Tricholoma flavovirens (Man on Horseback) 
  2. Agaricus fuscovelatus
  3. Agaricus pattersonae
  4. Agaricus fuscofibrillosus
  5. Boletus appendiculatus (Butter Bolete)
  6. Marasmius oreades (Fairy Ring Mushroom)
  7. Russula xerampelina (Shrimp)
  8. Morchella (Morel)
  9. Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)
  10. Macrolepiota rachodes (Shaggy Parasol)
  11. Amanita velosa
  12. Agaricus liliceps
  13. Agaricus bitorquis
  14. Boletus edulis (Porcini, King Bolete)
  15. Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)
  16. Craterellus cornucopioides (Black Chanterelle)
  17. Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower mushroom)
  18. Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog)
  19. Cantharellus cibarius (Chanterelle)
  20. Gyromitra esculenta (False Morel)

>> Personally I would like very much to know how you rate the edibles, not just in the relative ranking to each other but also their natural ranking, as in not just WHICH is better, but HOW MUCH better.

That just is not possible, for several reasons.

On another day, in another mood, I would surely create a different list.

Similar, for sure, but different. It might have different mushrooms on it and it would surely be in a different order. Mushrooms are organic beings that differ in flavor from collection to collection. No two collections of "mushroom A" ever taste quite the same. Two different cabbages always have different flavor...you should not expect anything different from mushrooms.

Also how much you "like" the mushroom depends greatly on how it is cooked.

Some mushrooms are good a wide range of ways and some need a specific type of cooking. For example, a mushroom disdained by many, Lactarius deliciosus, truly is delicious, but only if properly prepared. It can also be quite bland, with poor texture, if improperly prepared. Other mushrooms are more versatile (i.e. Morels, Agarcus, Porcini), but even with these some preparation methods are better than others. After enough experience with a certain mushroom, you should learn what works and what does not.

>> We're talking wild mushrooms here but you could include domesticated aliens too, like marker species for a controlled common knowledge comparison level.

There is one cultivated mushroom on my list that is not found locally wild:

The Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). It is truly a great mushroom. Another cultivated (and wild) mushroom that probably should have made the list is Agaricus bisporus, since both the wild and portobello forms are fine mushrooms. (As Bob Mackler says "If it's not better than a portobello, why bother eating it?")

A few comments on the list:

I have tried to only include mushrooms that I have eaten many, many times.

The one exception on the list is Agaricus fuscovelatus, which I have only tried twice, but WOW, what flavor in such a small mushroom. There are others (e.g. Amanita caesaria) that probably should be on the list, but are awaiting more experimentation!

I have only included one token Russula on the list. As our experience with Russulas grows, I do believe there will be more on such a list. And the one on the list, R. xerampelina (the Shrimp), could easily have been placed at the number one spot!

I have lumped all the Porcini species under Boletus edulis. This includes the fall coastal Porcini (which we call B. edulis and it could be the true B. edulis), the spring (B. pinophilus) and fall (B. edulis?) Sierran Porcinis, and that great, red capped Porcini of the Rocky Mountains, especially New Mexico.

I have also lumped a number of the Chanterelles together under C. cibarius. This includes C. cibarius, C. formosus, C. subalbidus, and serveral other forms that will have other names after the "Cantherllologists" are finished. For example, we collected and ate two other chanterelles this fall in Idaho that are distinct from any that we get in California. There are also distinct forms in other parts of the Pacific Northwest. But, from a culinary perspective, they are all one species. They differ as much from collection to collection within one species as they do from 'species' to 'species'.

Although I have included Gyromitra esculenta on the list, you should be aware that this mushroom CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS. Eat it with great caution, if at all. I try to have one meal of it a year...it's just TOO GOOD to ignore.

A few comments about what's not on the list:

Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) is a good but not a great mushroom. I consider it overrated. It would probably make my 'top 40 list'.

Coccoli (Amanita calyptrata)... OK, it's not bad raw in vinaigrette, but cooked it usually tastes like OLD FISH to me. I have tried it many ways, and Jane & I usually just pick it out of the dish and discard it. So why bother?

Blewitt (Clitocybe or Lepist nuda)... this mushroom can be VERY GOOD, unfortunately it can also be VERY BAD. Local material varies greatly and I have been unable to tell if is a good blewitt or a bad blewitt until it is cooked. I have had to toss too many dishes made with bad blewitts. I haven't collected a blewitt in over a decade.

Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.)... although they can be very good pickled and the pealed stipe dry fried by Patrick Hamilton were delicious, I usually avoid this mushroom, as I usually find it metallic tasting.

OK...who's next????


And here was a response to Mike’s message, from Ken Iisaka:

>> From: "Michael Wood" A few comments about what's not on the list:
Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) is a good but not a great mushroom. I consider it overrated. It would probably make my 'top 40 list'.

Perhaps the preparation may be partly responsible? Tricholoma magnivelare buttons that I bought in Japan town at nearly $100/lb were every bit as good as Tricholoma matsutake in Japan. The fully opened ones at $25/lb at my local market were barely acceptable.

During preparation, you SHOULD NOT be able to smell the mushroom in the kitchen. The aroma is to be captured, not dispersed. One of the finest preparation is "Matsutake no dobin mushi" or steamed matsutake in an earth pot. Matsutake really isn't steamed, but simmered in a delicate broth made from katsuobushi (dried bonito) and kombu (kelp), and the delicate aroma of matsutake marries with the fragrance of the broth into an exquisite combination of flavours. Honestly, I cringe at the sight of the photograph of overgrown sliced matsutake BBQed over coal in David Arora's book. Sure, it smells wonderful as you cook them, but by the time you eat them, most of the aroma is gone. If BBQing them, it's best to wrap them whole, not sliced, tightly with an aluminum foil, then opened just before eating.

After unwrapping, tear the mushroom in two, add a few drops of soy sauce, and squeeze some sudachi (lime is an acceptable substitute) onto it, then eat within seconds.

If you bring a pound of Tricholoma magnivelare buttons to my house next fall, I would be very happy to make a 5-course Japanese meal extravaganza.

I will supply the culinary skills, and a bottle of the finest sake.

Ah, perhaps you weren't drinking enough sake :) :) :)

>> Coccoli (Amanita calyptrata)...OK, it's not bad raw in a vinaigrette, but cooked it usually tastes like OLD FISH to me. I have tried it many ways, and Jane & I usually just pick it out of the dish and discard it. So why bother.

I found that preparing them in a cream sauce works best for me. Gentle simmering gets rid of the obnoxious fishiness, and younger specimens are better. Served over pasta with a generous serving of parmesan cheese (reggiano, of course) the crispy flesh of A. calyptrata is an exquisite counterpoint to the rich, creamy sauce. Dry, crispy white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc complements the flavour the best.

I cannot assign ranks, but here's a short list of my favourite fungus, grouped into four categories of "orgasmic", "excellent", "good", and "okay".


Tuber melanosporum
Tuber magnatum
Tricholoma matsutakeMorchella esculenta


Gyromitra esculenta
Tuber indicum
Cantharellus cibarius
Craterellus cornucopioides
Boletus appendiculatus, edulis...
Agaricus augustus
Grifola frondosa
Amanita calyptrata
Lactarius fragilis
Hydnum repandum


Flammulina velutipes
Lyophyllum aggregatum
Pholiota nameko
Pleurotus ostreatus
Lentinus edodes


Lactarius deliciosus
Amanita vaginata
Pleurotus eryngii
Agaricus campestris
Agaricus bisporus/bitorquis
Tremella fuciformis
Russula xerampelina

Admittedly, many of the species above are the ones I grew up with in Japan.

In response to this came a question from Dan Tilley:

Ken –

Thank you for your insights on Matsutake! I noticed that you grouped Lactarius deliciosus right in with Agaricus campestris, Agaricus bisporus/bitorquis, Russula xerampelina, 'shrooms that many of us enjoy often.

So how do you prepare and consume this oh so plentiful Lactarius?

Ken’s response to this was:

Salted. Salting removes the grainy, sawdust-like texture and bitterness. It's wonderful in gravy, soups and sauces, but is also very good as is. Slight fermentation adds a little acidity.

Then, Dan sent in this contribution:

I can't resist putting in my 2 cents worth on the favorite mushrooms thing.

Although hunting and studying mushrooms since 1953, I never really acquired a real passionate liking for them but objectively I do cook them up and test them in various recipes which I try out on friends as well as myself.

 More From Dan Tilley:

My favorites:

Lepiota rachodes - Almost any way but especially good with chicken in white wine sauce. I have a secret spot where I usually rely on finding them every year.

Clitocybe nuda - I dry and sometimes can these for gifts. They seem to be appreciated. Although common, they are hard to beat when other things don't reliably appear every year.

The spores of certain puffballs. I save this in sealed jars and spoon it into stews, on omelets, mixes, etc. VERY flavorful. Use with restraint....

Dan Tilley. Fairfield CA

In response to this message, I sent the following to Dan:

Dan: What kind of puffballs? How long do they keep in the sealed jars? How do you collect and prepare them? How would you describe the taste? What is the restraint for?

Dan’s response to me was:

Herman: Just the regular Calvatia gigantea, bovista or cyathiformis group. They tend to "overflavor" if you use too much. I usually use about 1/2 a teaspoon in a Chinese stir-fry dish or 1 tablespoon in gravy.

As long as the spores are good and dry (sometimes I help it along in my mushroom dryer) they keep in jars for years. You can tell by smelling if they go bad or not. None has so far.

Update, 5/5/03: I recently wrote Dr. Dennis Desjardin about this subject because I had remembered a comment he once made to me about the consumption of the mature spores of puffballs, and this was his response:

Hi Herman,

Here is the best advice concerning puffball edibility.

Only species of Scleroderma and a number of Lycoperdon species are reported to cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset if ingested.  The Scleroderma species are particularly notorious for causing illness when eaten, but several Lycoperdon species have been reported as phychotropic and/or as causing severe stomach cramps.  I have read no reports of Calvatia, Bovista or Calbovista as causing problems when eaten, but most books say to only eat the young, white gleba and to avoid older, mature fruitbodies with pigmented spores.  I suppose this latter advice is so people who do not know how to identify very well will not confuse a Calvatia with a Scleroderma.  So the advice is to avoid all pigmented-spored puffballs.  Since there are no reports  of illness caused by Calvatia and allied genera, I presume that eating spores of the latter should cause no problems.  But be sure of the identification first...and avoid Lycoperdon and Scleroderma.

Puffballs have never been my favorite because of the strong flavor, but each to his own I guess!

Hope this helps,
Dennis Desjardin

And this from Valeria Roman:

These are my favorite mushrooms:

  1. Amanita caesarea. I only had it 3 times in my life but still remember the flavor and aroma and look of the thin slivers made in salad, with lemon, salt and bland olive oil. Said to have been J. Caesar's favorite, too... fact or fiction, I don't know.
  2. Porcini. If impeccable and small, also as a salad or like truffles, grated uncooked on top of the best ravioli. If large, in thin sections, dipped in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and fried in oil.
  3. Portobello. cooked as above, side by side with porcini of the same size, I cannot tell the difference in taste (and no possibility of walking proteins in the portobello!)
  4. Chanterelles - C. cibarius, B. scabrum, Agaricus silvestris and B. scabrum. All for addition to bolognese sauce. I also have A. silvestris as salad sliced very thin (with the mandolin), lemon oil and salt.

And this from Louise Freedman:

Ken and Patrick--Here is a prioritized list of my 15 favorite mushrooms. Their qualities have much to do with how you treat them in your kitchens:

  1. Shiitake, because it is delicious and versatile, even when added to boiling water and soy sauce for 15 min.
  2. Morel, I like it best dried and reconstituted in cream. Great in soufflés.
  3. Matsutake, (when I can get them), marinated in soy sauce, murin, garlic and a small amount of toasted Chinese sesame oil. Grill after one hour of soaking.
  4. Shaggy mane, the flavor is unique. Don't be turned off by the large amount of liquid produced in cooking. Pour off the liquid and return it later to the same dish. Look for an excellent recipe, Shaggy Mane Chicken Tetrazzini, in "Wild About Mushrooms" at www.mssf.org and click on "cookbook".
  5. Butter bolete, a local bolete that is very tasty. You can't go wrong with it as a bolete, no matter how you cook it.
  6. Candy cap, best dried. I like it in home made bread with walnuts and in other sweet foods. And when you want to perfume your house for a week
  7. Porcini, it makes a wonderful pie, sliced and layered with ricotta cheese, with garlic and seasoning added to the crust.
  8. Shaggy parasol, one of the richest tasting mushrooms I know. It can stand on its own in any dish, fish, meat or potatoes.
  9. Chanterelle, it is beautiful to look at and easy to use, except to clean. Great with eggs, sauces, main courses and appetizers etc. All of you must have your favorite recipe.
  10. Blewit, again one of those mushrooms with a special flavor. The taste is not always agreeable, but don't give up. They like to go with sour cream and chopped onions.
  11. The Prince, stuff it after first buttering the surface. Keep it whole, since it is one of the few mushrooms as large as a portobello, with an almond-like flavor. Don't lose this unique feature.
  12. Black chanterelle, with cheese, cream, and cooked in a risotto.
  13. Oyster mushroom, stir fried with leeks and soy sauce, served over rice.
  14. Milky caps, both Lactarius deliciosus and rubrilacteus. Russian immigrants taught me to brush the caps with oil. Season, then grill them until they are brown and crisp. Eat them right off the grill.

--Louise Freedman

And this from Irma Brandt:

In putting this list together I discovered that the operative statement in Mike Wood's posting is that one's ratings can change on any given day...mine has changed several times before this posting and I'm sure will continue to change regularly.

NOTE: newcomers to the MSSF should not be overwhelmed and dismayed by these lists of esoteric tastes and latin names - I know I once was - but soon they will be rolling off your tongues and into your tummies too - give or take 5 - 10 years.......

Chanterelles seem to be almost every newcomer's *first* favorite mushroom...and they still can be included somewhere in my list of favorites, when they are prepared properly...Mycochef himself prepared a wonderful pastry filled with a chanterelle mixture, and a tasty topping, which he presented for the SOMA potluck dinner recently. I also recommend anyone who has an overload of chanterelles to offer them up to the chef/owner at Guernica Restaurant in Sausalito. Knock 3 times and tell him "Irma sent you" ...Roger hails from the Basque country and I have never had a limp, soggy, or untasty chanterelle in one of his dishes....they live up to their chansons and they are merveilleuse morsels when prepared in his skillet. And, he's always willing to do some sort of trade for dinner in his charming restaurant. Perhaps ...as with Ken's vivid description of the matsutake, all it takes is the proper mastery and knowledge of an expert in executing the preparation of any mushroom to bring out its choice quality .

My personal list for *today* is as follows:

  1. Craterellus cornucopioides -- ah-h-h-h the scent of the mystical black petunia of the forest!!!!!!!!! This mushroom always somehow reverts back to number 1 on my list. One might have many lovers that seem to be number 1 for the moment, but there's always that one special one that remains number one forever and always...(like me and Bill Freedman, caught in the act in Bennie's bedroom - oh gawd, Louise, forgive us - pleeze!!!!?) Trumpets, when they are fruiting fully and abundantly are, to me, the most beautiful flowers of the forest. If foraged properly, they are quite clean and quite ready for the sauté pan.
  2. My latest discovery and delectable mushroom would be the Agaricus subrutilescens.....I missed out on the recent class given on the Agaricus genus and wonder if Mike Wood might consider giving another class combined with actually foraying during the right season, to the appropriate habitats....to find these species and learn more about them in a hands-on manner (so to speak) .....especially since he mentions several which are still obscure and unknown to many of us......???? an immediate question....do they all fruit around the same time???? or......?
  3. Gyromitra gigas - Yum-m-m-m-m ... Sautéed with wild rice, these morsels alternate with my number 1 ranking!!!!
  4. Morchella - elata or esculenta - the charred earth and smoke filled air is my least favorite scenario for a foray, but one of my favorite edibles – Louise Freedman's recipe in Wild About Mushrooms for morels stuffed with bread crumbs, bacon and walnuts is one of my favorites!
  5. Lactarius fragilis - I have seen for the first time this year, this delicate little mushroom grow as large as 3 - 4 inches across, in the *right* habitat – it too, alternates in my number 1 spot. It is such a unique and versatile mushroom.

    When sautéed with a little brandy and marsala, it combines with rice and walnuts to make a most delectable rich-flavored savory sauce to accompany any wild game, pork, etc. (forgive me all you vegetarians). And most know and love its delectable maple syrup flavor used for sweetening desserts –
  6. Lactarius rubrilacteus - unlike the deliciosus, it is never grainy or gritty at all...but has excellent texture as well as flavor! Louise Freedman introduced me to this wonderful mushroom on that very same televised foray...yep, we're a threesome! From my limited experience, the rubrilacteus has a very short fruiting season and precedes that of the deliciosus- which fruiting season is long and the quantity abundant . Grilling brings out the best flavor and texture of the rubrilacteus.

    And, I have recently had the good fortune too of having the deliciosus, grilled by a master perfectionist, that lived up to its nomenclature. Can I add a little plug here too for John Pisto's signature stovetop grill...it's terrific!
  7. Boletus edulis fall into the number 7 position on my list ... for today anyway. They too do best, for my palate, when sliced thinly, brushed with a little olive oil, garlic and seasonings, and grilled till they're crispy. I also really like the Lecinum scabrum - I find their subtle delicate flavor a treat in pastas – depending on my mood, I like them even more than the edulis.
  8. I have 6 number 8's - 3 subtle flavored and 3 more pungent - the delicate flavor of the Amanita caesarea. And the subtle flavor and texture of the Amanita pachycolea and vaginata, when grilled, is a taste bud treat of the more delicate variety...and there is just something about the name vaginata that I find blushingly intriguing, especially when in the company of one perfect pachycolea.

    I'm not sure about the 4th of my number 8 - because I don't know for sure that I always have the mushroom that I think I have...the illusive "Shrimp Russula" (xerampelina) that has so many lookalikes that will not necessarily harm you, they certainly won't tantalize or tempt you to second helpings of "JAR's" (ref. Arora's M.D. ) I have often been on forays where people insist the mushroom in their hand "smells just like shrimp" and even though I respond "uh-huh" favorably cause I don't want to seem uninformed - in all honesty, I don't smell the shrimp smell - so in retrospection I can only assume it was JAR - albeit not peppery, but DNS - definitely not shrimp!

    The Agaricus augustus (5 of 8 ) and Agaricus perobscurus (6 of 8) - the obscurity of this species to the neophyte has placed it in a position of reverence to me for many years...and finally, thanks to one rebel sea ranch princess, I was introduced to a fairy ring of augustus which were breathtaking to behold and to eat.......and...on my own, also discovered my first perobscurus. This species has such an overwhelming almond flavor that some might find it too strong and it requires careful preparation to be really palatable for the multitudes. I have found that the appropriate amount of bacon is the right combination for subduing and complimenting the strong almond flavor. Because of its intense almond flavor, I experimented with it in the same way as I would with L. fragilis (candy caps), as a dessert flavoring - and it met all expectations and deserves further development and experimentation as a flavoring in dessert recipes.

  9. I have a few options here too, which also move on a sliding scale and depending on who's doing the cooking: Tricholoma magnivelare, Sparassis crispa, Marasmius oreades. I agree with Ken Iisaka on the preparation of the matsutake for bringing out their best and hope I get invited to his house to sample them someday. Bradley Ogden served a Sparassis in a broth the first year Lark Creek Inn hosted their dinners to promote the Fair, and it was remarkable.
  10. Last but not least, CORN SMUT, Ustilago maydis, Huitlacoche.........I love it!!!! Sautéed with shallots, and the right Mexican spices and served as a taco filling with avocado and sour cream.......it too can rank right up there in the number one place...especially if it's end of July, early August!

I carried two Man on Horseback in my backpack this season and brought them home, due to my ignorance they took a back seat to many of those that I was more familiar with and some other recent new discoveries that I now deem to be my edibles of choice. I can hardly wait till next season to hunt down "the man" again ....

Happy cooking and good eating to all in the coming year. And.......let's hope it rains soon!


And from Mike Boom:

Let me put my $.02 in about bolete tubes and spores. I always dry bolete slices with the tubes still attached, even if they're green and long in the tooth (or tube, as the case may be). The only time I trim them off is if they're completely gooey or so long they dwarf the white tissue of the cap. I know I'm in the minority -- most people trim the tubes -- but I find they add a lot of flavor to whatever I'm cooking. Some people claim they're slimy, but since I usually make risotto or some kind of sauce with dried porcini, it's no big deal.

In my experience, older mushrooms have more intense flavors, and that includes boletes. If you ever find a very large, old bolete gone slightly soft but without worms (a "pudding head"), you might want to give it a try -- the flavor's wonderful, even if the texture is not. With a few other mushrooms, such as blewits, an older stronger flavor isn't always desirable. And, of course, any mushrooms that have gone over the line into spoiled territory deserve a wide berth.

As for spores of edible mushrooms, I've never heard of them being bad for you unless you happen to be allergic to them and breathe in too many of them. Some people, in fact, feel that much of a mushroom's flavor is in its spores. They point to morels, which tend to shoot off most of their spores while drying, and feel that morels are better fresh than dried. In my own experience, I think dried morels are every bit as good as fresh, so the "taste is in the spores" hypothesis is still up in the air as far as I'm concerned. It might be interesting this coming spring to scrape morel spores off my dehydrator and try creating a broth.

There's nothing like empirical evidence.

--Mike Boom

Something from me:

I do the same as Mike does with the tubes from a B. edulis, but if I do remove the tubes, I dry them separately to use them later for what Arora calls "Essence of Edulis".

-- Herman Brown

And from Larry Stickney:

Old Bolete pores ARE very tasty indeed as long as they aren't creating an awful stink. Lawrence Taylor of Auckland, NZ, found one large old edulis almost buried in snow [preserved in ice?] in the upper reaches of Highway 50 during a sudden snowstorm in October. We were on our way to a Fallen Leaf Lake cabin with Jim Coulter. Taylor's was the only Bolete find of the day, so he had to try doing something with it. And the resulting soup had remarkably strong traditional flavor.

Don't automatically chuck all aging fungi. Armillaria mellea is a clear exception to this suggestion.

– Larry

And more from Larry:

Morel spores are indeed very tasty any way you can collect them. Just remember to cook them in some butter before trying to do more with them, or use chicken fat. Neither oil need necessarily be pure; that is, globules of them on top of the warm re-hydrating liquid are usually sufficient to do the job for soups and gravies.

-- Larry

From David Campbell:

Here's my rather arbitrary and decidedly personal list of mushrooms that launch my spores.

*Hericium americanum--in lemon/cream sauce. This is an east coast mushroom, our PNW H, abietis is delicious, but less tender.  Resembles crab or lobster, though obviously not from this planet.

*Lepiota procera--ridiculously delicious, meaty yet tender.

*Coprinus comatus--1st wild mushroom I ever ate, still in the top 5.  Cooked briefly in butter till limp, don't waste that natural sauce it throws.  Sort of an improved oyster.

*Morchella sps--hard to argue with a morel, best to just roll them in melted butter and thrust them into an open campfire flame at the end of a dead-end dirt road somewhere divinely lost in the high high mountains, then they'll talk.

*Agaricus arvensis & silvicola-- I prefer their delicacy to the stronger flavoured A. augustus, but only slightly.

*Amanita velosa-- Lovely to behold as well as consume.

*Boletus edulis-- they don't call it "King" for nothing.  I've long referenced my search for them as "big game hunting".  They bring pleasure in many ways beyond culinary.  Favorite preparation...Porcini Parmesan!

*Boletus appendiculatus & regius-- Butters. Great flavored densely fleshed boletes, and they stain the purdiest blue.

*Boletus mirabilis-- The lemon notes are deliciously unique.

*Tricholoma equestre-- Man-on-horseback gets the nod from me over its cousin matsutake for reasons that are no doubt culturally generated.  Its meaty quality shines in typical western cooking techniques, such as meat and potatoes.  (I am born in Idaho, you know)

*Tricholoma magnivilare-- Matsutake is densely fleshed (to a fault sometimes) with distinctive flavor that despises butter and garlic type recipes.  Tamari, lime, broth, white wine or sake, ginger and garlic, seem to be the way to go when concocting treatments.  A very good mushroom whose value is driven far beyond its sensible level relative to other fine mushrooms we have here by the Japanese' fanatical devotion to it. ( Speaking of cultural differences...according to David Arora, in Japan they pretty much consider B. edulis as just another suillus.) 

*Lactarius rubidus-- or fragilis, the Candy Cap.  Dried gently, it makes desserts nobody can believe.  I find it delectable and with mentionably great presentation potential as a fresh savory mushroom, also.

*Cantharellus cibarius group-- Familiarity breeds contempt, and over the years I have gone through periods of disparaging the golden chanterelle, but then...  I revamp my approach to them and fall in love again.  Lately, the heartthrob has been a ruby port with pear rendition.  Chanterelles have been too great a part of my mushroom world for too many decades for me to leave them off any favorite mushroom list.  My favorite of the many species/varieties we have in the U.S. are those which I have collected for years in the Cascades of Oregon, which from my conversations with David Arora, I am now identifying as C. cibarius variety rosecanus.  David believes that "rosecanus" will eventually become the species name.

*Cantharellus cornucopioides-- I am fonder of the flavor than the texture, otherwise it would rank higher.

*Macrolepiota rachodes-- Older ones are just plain rank and probably responsible for so many "allergic" reactions to this species.  Nice young buttons possess that desirable meaty quality.

*Laetiporous sulfereus-- Chicken o' de Woods I thought was a joke as per edibility until I finally got a young, fat, juicy, unexpanded specimen.  Now I like it plenty.

*Amanita calyptrata-- Unlike most species on this list which require varying degrees of cooking, it is best raw, with olive oil and lemon.

*Gyromitra esculenta-- After all the fascinating exchange on this here chat room a few months ago I ended up with the same attitude about this mushroom that I had had before:  It's too good not to eat occasionally, but because of its pernicious potential it should be consumed in small quantities on rare occasions only, and then only after careful cooking techniques have been employed.  Not a mushroom to casually share, after all, I don't know of a book that doesn't list it as deadly.

*Hepatica fistulina-- I don't think I quite know how to prepare this yet.  At this fall's Salt Point Foray it was marinated in soy sauce and garlic then grilled. We thought maybe it needed a bit of mirin to cut the citric quality. Outrageously weird appearance with exotic texture and interesting flavor, I think it may be one of the "sleepers" on this list.

*Phlogiotis helvelloides-- It's an apricot colored toothed jelly fungus virtually devoid of flavor but with a marvelous coating texture that adheres to the tongue.  I like to eat them on encounter in the woods, no hands, just put my mouth down there and graze. 

*Geopora cooperii-- Not to be confused with REAL truffles that would be at the top of this list if they grew around here, the Fuzzy Truffle is not uncommon in the Sierras, especially in second year burns from my experience.  Its flavor is
disappointingly mild, true, but it has some flavor and excellent textural qualities and it's a truffle we can find in sufficient quantity to make a dish of.

Off the list:

*Lentinula edodes-- Would easily crack this list if we had them wild, but we don't and I am openly prejudiced against cultivated mushrooms, and it is my list. Shiitakes are great, especially the cracked cap Jo Donkos slow grown in colder

Maybe our next exercise in mushroom ranking could be "most over-rated allegedly edible mushroom".  I would offer Lobsters, Honeys, and Pig's Ears in a thrice, if anyone would take them.


And this bit of information from David Bartolotta:

Arora states that honey mushrooms can result in gastric upsets in some folks at some times. I've never had a problem with them...yet. As far as the pores on boletes, I pull them off, dry them and then powder them in a grinder. I use the powder in soups, sauces etc. It has a very intense flavor. If the pores are still white, I leave them on the mushroom.

And, on February 19, this list from Darvin Deshazer:

  Top 20 favorites to eat.  (The best to hunt for are the morels!)

  1. Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower Mushroom)
  2. Agaricus smithii (Smith's Prince)
  3. Agaricus augustus (The Prince)
  4. Tuber melanosporum (Perigord Truffle)
  5. Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog)
  6. Tricholoma magnivelare (White Matsutake)
  7. Craterellus cornucopioides (Black Trumpets)
  8. Hericium erinaceus (Crab Hericium, Lion's Mane)
  9. Lactarius fragilis (Candy Caps)
  10. Ustilago maydis (Huitlacoche, Corn Smut)
  11. Cantharellus formosus (Western Chanterelle)
  12. Russula xerampelina (Shrimp Mushroom)
  13. Amanita velosa (Spring Amanita)
  14. Clitocybe nuda (Blewit)
  15. Lentinula edodes (Shiitake)
  16. Flammulina velutipes (Winter Mushroom, Enokitake)
  17. Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)
  18. Laccaria laccata (Common Laccaria)
  19. Laetiporus sulphureus (Chicken of the Woods, Sulfur Shelf)
  20. Boletus edulis (King Bolete, Steinpilz, Cep)

On March 19, from Charmoon Richardson:

Greetings Herman B., PatrickChef, and all other interested parties...

Finally, the  Top 20 list - which is, I must regretfully say, somewhat biased by restriction of exposure. That is, because I have not had the opportunity to try many of the favorite mushrooms from other lists, it's not
necessarily meaningful to compare to other lists... also, it's not necessarily just flavor that I'm ranking by - sometimes it's versatility and variety of good cooking styles. For instance, there are many more ways to
prepare morels  than there are matsutake - so morels would come out ahead of matsutake, even if I liked their flavors equally (which I don't - morels are the best. But I haven't had those supposedly great gyromitras...).

So, with those waffling qualifications out of the way, here they are:

  1. morel - especially from Lake Co. burn several years ago - the best!
  2. the Prince
  3. coast King bolete
  4. meadow waxy cap (Camarophyllus pratensis)
  5. crocodile agaricus
  6. man on horseback
  7. matsutake
  8. amber staining agaricus
  9. red capped butter bolete
  10. black trumpet
  11. candy cap
  12. shiitake
  13. maitake
  14. gold chanterelles (early season)
  15. hedgehogs
  16. green capped russulas
  17. oyster (wild)
  18. lion's mane
  19. orange bleeding milk caps
  20. shrimp russula

(Note - any mushroom on list served with feral pig moves one rank higher)

- Charmoon Richardson   - Oshroomgroupie

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

In "The Complete Book of Mushrooms" (1974) by Rinaldi and Tyndalo, I found
the following information under the chapter titled "Nutrient Properties of
Mushrooms", page 257:

One hundred grams of fresh mushrooms provide, on the average, 5 grams of
protein assimilable by our body; more than our daily requirement of
phosphorous and potassium; zinc, about our daily requirement; iron, about one
third of our daily requirement; plus other necessary minerals, but in
smaller quantities.

..one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain about ten grams of

...one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain slightly less than one gram
of lipids..

..one hundred grams of fresh mushrooms contain eighty-five grams of water
and a few grams of cellulose...

And then this chapter continues to describe the many vitamins contained in the
various species.

I also remember an owner of a mushroom farm near Solvang, CA, once saying that mushroom farming can produce more protein per acre than raising cattle.  Plus, he was using the byproducts of some of the local horse raising facilities, from horses that sold for many thousands of dollars!