This autumn we ventured back up to the mountains to find the majestic Parasol Mushroom or Sarnella as it is known in Bulgaria. The spot in the forest we first found them 2 yrs ago keeps providing for us
To see a few pics of the beauties we gathered click on the link below
The Parasol Mushroom/Lepiota(Macrolepiota procera)
They have exceptionally fine flavor. One of the absolute best. Although it is not that hard to identify you must be exceptionally observant of all characteristics. You cannot afford a mistake. There are some Lepiota relatives that are very poisonous or even deadly. Never eat small Lepiotas or any with green aspects to the gills or a green spore print.
When and where to find them The Parasol Mushroom may be found on lawns, trail or woods edges, and in the woods. They may or may not be near trees although they can have a preference for certain trees. Oak or white pine or other conifers are good places to look but they can be in any mixed woods. Large specimens are often found on lawns sometimes in large numbers and may be as much as a foot tall.
Preparation This is a really great tasting mushroom! The mature caps can have the odor and taste of maple syrup. The maple character seems to become more pronounced if it dries just slightly. They are wonderful pan fried with olive oil drizzled in the gills ,lemon juice, pepper ,salt and a little smoked garlic grated over the top:) The very fresh specimens when fried taste a little like freshly caught mackerel. If you find an abundance of these babies than you can always dry them and store them. We just place them on the radiator until crispy dry than put them in jars and when we want to use them, soak them in water until reconstituted than add them to soups etc
Comments You should be sure to eat just a bit at first to be sure you have no reaction. Never ever eat small Lepiotas ,to be safe do not pick any parasol mushroom under 8cms cap diameter or any with any hint of green gills or a green spore print like Chlorophyllum molybdites. It only shows greenish gills with age, otherwise white. If you are unsure best not to take chances. Be sure! Consulting a mycologist or experienced mushroomer is always a good idea.
Inoculation Some of the specimens we gathered will be used for an experiment to see whether we can inoculate the fungi into the gardens. By placing the caps in water for a day or so we hope to capture the spores in solution and then pour the water over the garden lawn, beds and a special tank set aside for fungi. Of course for this to stand any chance of working no weed killer or lawn fertilizers or garden chemicals can be applied in the designated spots beforehand ,only for organic gardens:) We will make an update if it works ,don't hold your breath .
Fruit body Parasols have a broad, scaly, brownish cap with a bulbous based, tall, scaly, brownish stem with a movable ring.
Cap (pileus) Ovate (egg shaped) becoming bell shaped then nearly flat. 3-10 inches wide with attached scales in a regular pattern and a central knob that is brown at first but cracks with age revealing the white flesh. A mature cap may smell of maple syrup.
Stem (stipe) 3-12 or more inches tall. 3/8-5/8 inches thick. Enlarged to bulbous at the base with brown scales that have a pattern somewhat resembling herringbone The partial veil becomes a ring that slides up and down the stem.
Flesh White and moderately thick and non bruising.
Spores White spore print.
Has anybody had any luck with inoculating these guys into there lawns or beds
Paul Stamets successfully cultivated parasol mushrooms in Washington state, even though they are extremely rare in the Pacific Northwest of the US. (Despite 20 years of hunting, I've never found them in Oregon.) "Mycelium Running" mentions two methods for natural culture: The first method is to make a 4-inch deep bed of sawdust and woodchips, innoculate heavily with parasol spawn and then let grass grow over the bed, cutting it several times in a season. The second method is to innoculate thatch ant mounds, which ants build from conifer needles, thatch and wood debris. "The nests become infused with the mycelium within a few months of innoculation. The mounds fruit a year or more later and are more productive when the ants abandon the nest."
I can't find any spawn or kits for sale of this species, probably because of liability concerns with toxic lookalikes. I recommend collecting your own spores and mycelium from the wild. Aloha Medicinals sells cultures at over $200, but it's not worth it unless you own your own mushroom farm!
"In a fruit forest everyone is happy"- Sepp Holzer