St George’s mushroom in April

 In Foraging, Harvesting, Nature, Organic Products, Storage, Super food

St George’s mushroom is in season!

This tasty mushroom may be hard to find but when you do find it it’s well worth the effort of searching.

Unlike most edible mushrooms that are better known, St George’s mushroom produces its tasty mushrooms in springtime. In fact it will come as little surprise that this tasty treat is most often found around April 23rd. This is of course St George’s Day.

You tend to only see this mushroom offered in high class restaurants and occasionally on market stalls. There they sell for about ten times the price of ordinary supermarket cultivated mushrooms!

Where to look

St George's mushroom, mushroom ring in grass

Distinctly darker vegetation

St George’s mushroom [Calcybe gambosao] can be found in a wide variety of places but is often concealed by vegetation.

I’ve found this mushroom in several places and there is little in common with the place that they grow.

For instance you might find them in woodland, on the roadside or bank or, as I did this week, in open parkland. I think it’s fair to say that they are more often found in grassland than in woods.

Fortunately once you have found where they grow you should be able to find them there again. Look there every year around St George’s Day.

Like many other mushrooms the St George’s mushroom usually grows in a ring. That ring often has darker coloured vegetation and this can be a clue to suggesting that you investigate more closely.





How to be sure that they are St George’s mushrooms

The time of year that they grow is a big tip that you have probably found the right one. There are very few mushrooms

St Geroge's mushrooms on a cutting board with knife

Milky white colour

that grow around April and May and so that helps too.

The cap, gills and stem are white.

The gills are fairly shallow and consequently the cap is thick and the stem is solid until it ages.

There is no annulus around the stem – that’s like a little skirt and can be typically found on field mushrooms.

If you pull the mushroom out of the ground there is not a large bulbous base to the stem.

The smell of a cut St George’s mushroom is quite strong and distinctive. Many say that it smells mealy or even of sawdust. I personally find it a very pleasant smell.





How to eat them

There are a number of ways that you can eat this delicious wild spring mushroom. Personally I find the best to be raw!

Thin slices of this mushroom can be added to spring salads. It has a slightly floury flavour with a hint of cucumber. However a friend recently described the taste not unlike cold chicken. I guess we all have different taste buds!

Add foraged leaves to salad leaves from the garden. Sorrel and the flower buds of plantain are great seasonal additions.

This mushroom is very healthy. It contains vitamins D, C, iron, calcium, fibre and iron. In fact they might be regarded as a superfood!



Preserving a glut

St George's mushroom, slices of mushroom on trays

Sliced mushrooms air drying

It is good to find a way to preserve some since this little delicacy is only around from mid April through to late May.

I am trying to dry them for the first time this year. I’ve cut them into thin slices after brushing the cap and stems clean. Note that it is best not to wash them or to peel the cap.

I lay the slices out evenly on trays covered with grease-proof paper but with newspaper underneath to absorb excess moisture.

I’ve read that you can air dry this mushroom in a couple of days. For me it has taken longer. At room temperature it is more like 5-7 days. Of course you could dry them in a low oven.

When the slices a really dry I’m going to bottle them in an air tight jar until I need them.

It’s best to rehydrate your mushroom slices before using them in cooking. 20 minutes in lukewarm water should be enough.

I’m going to be adding mine to casseroles and stews.


More info

There’s a very good little video about this mushroom that you might like to look at here.


Have you ever found this great mushroom?

Do you dry them to preserve some for eating later?

It will soon be time to forage for beech leaves to make that great gin based drink beech noyau. Here’s how I do it in this blog here


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