This blog is a bit later than planned, but I was hunting mushrooms all weekend! This is such a great time of the year for collecting free delicious food in the pine forests around Castelo Branco. But becareful, you have to know what you are doing! It is what they say here, you can eat every kind of mushroom, but there are some you only eat once…. Since we love to pick them and make meals out of them (I just finished a delicious home-made wild mushroom soup), I combined both my mushroom and photography passion to share with you some of the wild mushrooms I found here. At this moment, I know four types of mushrooms that I feel confident picking and eating.
Lactarius deliciosus – Red Pine mushroom – here they call these: Pinheirinhas
Has a carrot orange cap which is convex to vase shaped. The cap is sticky and viscid when wet, but is often dry. It has crowded decurrent gills and a squat orange stipe which is often hollow, 3 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in) long and 1 to 2 cm (0.5 to 1 in) thick. This mushroom stains a deep green color when handled.
They can be found near the older pine trees. It colors your urine the day after!
Hydnum Repandum– Hedgehog -here they call these: Pata de Cabra
Commonly known as the sweet tooth, wood hedgehog or hedgehog mushroom, is an edible mushroom with no poisonous lookalikes. It produces fruit bodies whose cap undersurfaces are covered by hymenophores resembling spines or teeth, and not pores or gills. This mushroom is my favorite to pick because they are tasty and when you find one, you can follow a path of meters long with these mushroom, like it are footprints you follow and you can just keep picking. That is why this mushroom got his name: pata de cabra (goat hoof). I don’t have a recent picture because it is still too early in the year. This is a photo taken last year.
Tricholoma equestre – man on horseback or yellow knight – here they call these: miscaros
A formerly widely eaten but hazardous fungus of the Tricholoma genus that forms ectomycorrhiza with pine trees. Although it is regarded as quite tasty, cases of poisoning from eating T. equestre have been reported. Research has revealed it to have poisonous properties. I personally, had no problems after eating, however I take the advice people give not to eat them a few days in a row
and in huge amounts. You can find hundreds of them in the woods, but you have to look very closely as they are covered with pine needles and dirt. Because of this, it does take some effort to clean them, but it is all worth it!
Yesterday I had the luck of finding these big mushrooms while I was visiting a property. It is found in dune slacks, sandy pine plantations, and sometimes meadows. The specific epithet phaeodisca (“with a dusky disc”), refers to the dark central area of the cap. They way to eat them is grilling with sea salt, a drip of olive oil and some red wine.
This is the picture of yesterday’s meal. Next to it on the right is the mushroom: Tricholoma colossus.
The cap is 6-30 cm wide, brick red – chestnut brown, hemispherical when young, widening later on, uneven, always with very thick meat, surface slightly sticky, decomposing somewhat into scales. My other half found one once of 4,5 kilos! Wikipedia says the taste is horrid, but that is not true! We cut it in small slices, grilled it with some sea salt, and the taste is fantastic! It is like you are eating meat. Great for when you are a vegetarian. Here I am holding one we found.
Now we go to some random pictures I took from edible and non-edible mushrooms. Here stops my knowledge. We did find a magic mushroom! It is still early for them though. When it is the right time, they are very easy to find. Hmmm… maybe a new business opportunity? 😉
One last advice: Don’t go and pick and experiment yourself using these pictures as a reference! There are look-a-like mushrooms that are toxic and deadly!