A Wild Food Woodland Treat
I was surprised today 4th January to find a small crop of Hedgehog Mushrooms in a small woodland area just less than 1acre close to my house in Renvyle. I guess I associate mushrooms with autumn and think of baskets full of chanterelles and rosehips making a splash of oranges and reds. Many mushrooms are frost sensitive and a lot are gone by this time of year but as we have not had anything but the lightest frost so far this winter in Connemara some are still around. Nonetheless these were an unexpected treat and on practically my doorstep too!
Hedgehog mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)… a gift from creation for those of us wary of identifying the wrong fungi. It is the ultimate beginners mushroom for novice foragers as it ticks all the boxes; easy to find, can’t easily confuse it with anything poisonous and tasty tasty tasty. Its distinguishing feature is that under the cap, instead of gills (as have most other mushrooms) or spongy pores (Boletes), these mushrooms have spikes around 4mm in length giving it the appearance of a spiny hedgehog. The underside of the cap is cream to orange pink and the colours range from creams to oranges through to salmon pinks.
These mushrooms are very light in colour and are like blobs of clotted cream scattered within woodland.
I was delighted to find them and just selected the 4 best. One was old-looking and some had been nibbled by our sheep. so that didn’t leave a lot so I carefully removed them and brought them back to the house they just had a little grass and soil which was easily picked off and wiped with a damp dishcloth.
Photo 1: My Hedgehog mushrooms …sliced and ready for the pan
Remember only pick and eat mushrooms that you are 100% sure of their identity.
Come find out more about wild food and the ecology of Connemara at The Ecology Centre.