At Gardenprue we like mushrooms and one of the edibles with a very good taste and relatively easy to recognize is the Macrolepiota procer a. Also called parasol mushroom or umbrella mushroom because of the large size of its hat. Let’s see its identification keys, characteristics and possible confusion. Ah! and recipes.
ORIGIN AND HABITAT OF MACROLEPIOTA PROCERA
Although it is Europe where it is mainly concentrated, it can also be seen towards Russia and the US. It can be found in many places, meadows , forest clearings, hedgerows, herbaceous clearings, roadsides or moors sometimes. It is a frequent mushroom and we can see it a wide range of months in Spain during autumn and spring .
MACROLEPIOTA PROCERA IDENTIFICATION KEYS
This mushroom is very grateful because thanks to its size, color, long stem and generous hat, we can see it with the naked eye . Others such as boletus or chanterelles are hidden in wooded areas, covered with leaves and have more brown colors, it costs a little more to see them. The Macrolepiotas are seen meters and meters away. Once you have reached it, we have to look at several things to make sure of its “authenticity”.
- Hat over 12 cm unfolded. They can measure up to 25 cm without ruffling. They are large specimens. The hat has a slight bump in the center called a darker colored mamelon that flakes out radially. The brim of the hat has a woolly appearance.
- The foot is very thin and can measure up to 40 centimeters. It is normally about 20-30 cm by 2-3 cm wide. It is cream in color but has dark brown tabby spots that give a snakeskin feel .
- It has very spongy, soft, cream-colored blades.
- The parasol mushroom has a movable double ring . This means that we can move it along the foot. In mature specimens it can detach and fall to the base.
- Pleasant smell of nuts. Remember to walnut or hazelnut.
The foot does NOT turn red when we scrape it with the knife. This is important to identify it with respect to other similar ones that we will now see.
POSSIBLE PARASOL MUSHROOM CONFUSIONS
THIS TIME, SIZE MATTERS. CONFUSION WITH POISONOUS LEPIOTAS .
The genus Macrolepiota is so named because there is another genus that is Lepiota of smaller specimens. And it is a way to avoid confusion that can be deadly. The genus Lepiota is very extensive and has very toxic specimens , deadly in fact.
However, we have to our advantage that the Lepiotas do not exceed 10 cm in diameter of the hat displayed. Visually they can be miniature copies of M. procera , but much smaller. Lepiota castanea, L. clypeolaria, L, helveola, L. brunneoincarnata, L. cristata … In the following photo I present the Lepiota cristata . It is known as Smelly Lepiota because it has a very strong, rubbery smell. It is not deadly but it is not edible at all. It is toxic. As we can see from the background of the photo, the hats are very small, they rarely exceed 5-6 cm. The foot is white and the ring is not double.
In the following image we can see L. brunneoincarnata . This is deadly. At first glance, it could be confused but this has as we see the white foot, without that characteristic tabby. It is also small in size, the scales are somewhat more purple. The base of the foot has brownish rings towards the base. This one looks like another mortal. L. helveola, similar in size.
OTHER GENDERS CAN ALSO LEAD TO CONFUSION WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG
The young specimens of some Amanitas and Macrolepiotas may look alike since they both have volva . Avoid young parasol mushroom specimens, closed if you are not very sure. Better to wait for him to open his hat to make sure.
OTHER MACROLEPIOTES THAT CAN CONFUSE US
After seeing we have to take those of more than 12 cm in diameter in his hat, we are left wondering if there were any mushrooms of the same size and that they could not be eaten either . To have them there are. There may be at least two possible confusions that are the most frequent:
- Macrolepiota rhacodes. Also known as Chlorophyllum rhacodes . It is not toxic and is considered edible but it is recommended not to consume it.
- Macrolepiota venenata (toxic but not fatal)
The Chlorophyllum rhacodes is very similar. In fact, it is called a reddish-meat parasol . It has a similar hat, although the scales are somewhat lighter, it also has a double ring. So we have the foot to differentiate it. Here is the key:
- This is thicker in relation to the hat if we compare it with the parasol mushroom.
- It is not brindle.
- When it is scraped with the nail, finger or with the razor it turns orange or reddish color .
The false parasol is edible but it is not a good edible. That is, you do not get intoxicated but its flavor is not as good as Macrolepiota procera . So better avoid it because also …
Macrolepiota venenata is the one that can cause us a more serious disorder. It is toxic, not deadly but that does not matter. You have to avoid it anyway. It is also red when cut or scraped on the foot . That is the true litmus test to be sure that it is not the authentic parasol mushroom. Fortunately, it is rare but it is seen more and more and there are some intoxication from people who do not know them.
In the US, the Macrolepiota procera can be confused with Chlorophyllum molybdites, poisonous but very rare in Europe. Actually, in the old continent it is difficult to get confused but you always have to be careful.
Remember: The feet of these two Macrolepiotes turn red when scraped or cut. It is the best identifier to differentiate them.
There are of course other Macrolepiotes that are safe and edible, such as M. excoriata or M. konradii or M. mastoidea but those for another day.
CAUTION WITH COLLECTION AREAS. THE PROBLEM OF HEAVY METAL ACCUMULATION
In addition to the confusion we have to be careful with the areas where we collect the mushrooms. Fungi tend to be heavy metal bioaccumulators. If you’ve ever heard of this, you know that oily fish is another example of heavy metal bioaccumulation.
This also happens with mushrooms and there are especially bioaccumulative species. One is this and another, for example, the wild mushroom or Agaricus campestris that we have already talked about.
This we cannot avoid. We can avoid a confusion with a poisonous mushroom, but we do not have laboratory material to know if the mushroom specimens have a higher or lower concentration of metals such as mercury or lead.
What we can do is know where we collect these mushrooms and preferably they should be collected in areas far from cities, industrial estates, towns and highways. It is preferable to make a trip to the mountains and enter non-humanized areas than to take them “next to home.” In this way we will run less risk of ingesting heavy metals.
At the end of the article we leave you with a couple of studies in which the bioaccumulative character of heavy metals in Macrolepiota procera is mentioned . This is where we got the information on the metal bioaccumulation problem.
MACROLEPIOTA PROCERA RECIPES
The truth is that if you do not know this mushroom, it looks very bad. Once you know how to identify it and taste it, it is surprising how good it is and the number of recipes that can be made, some truly original.
It is the first thing that comes to mind and it is the best way to try it so as not to mask its aroma. The pie is removed, seasoned to taste and a couple of turns in a pan or griddle with a drizzle of olive oil. It is delicious.
We can pass it through egg and breadcrumbs, with a little garlic and parsley and fry it in the pan until the bread is golden. The mushroom does not need a long time to cook. It is very cute.
Parasol mushroom breaded and fried
MACROLEPIOTA PROCERA SANJACOBOS
This recipe is the most daring, original and tasty for this mushroom. Just take two parasol mushroom hats of a similar diameter. Put in the middle a slice of serrano or cooked ham and a slice of cheese to melt type cheddar, emmental or similar. Pass everything through egg and breadcrumbs and fry in olive oil. It has no more complications!
AND CAN THE FOOT OF THE PARASOL MUSHROOM BE EATEN?
The foot is very dry and hard and although it is usually discarded it can have its usefulness. You can cut it into julienne strips and make a mushroom soup or cream, reserving a couple of hats as a complement. Simply for flavor.
OTHER EDIBLE MUSHROOMS
If you have been interested in this world of mushrooms, we recommend the article of the 10 most frequent and easy to identify edible mushrooms
References of the studies on metal accumulation in Macrolepiota procera :
Gucia, M., Jarzyńska, G., Rafał, E., Roszak, M., Kojta, AK, Osiej, I., & Falandysz, J. (2012). Multivariate analysis of mineral constituents of edible Parasol Mushroom ( Macrolepiota procera ) and soils beneath fruiting bodies collected from Northern Poland . Environmental Science and Pollution Research , 19 (2), 416-431.
Falandysz, J., Gucia, M., & Mazur, A. (2007). Content and bioconcentration factors of mercury by Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera . Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B , 42 (6), 735-740.