I went for a hike in the woods yesterday in Western Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful day with lots of sun and the temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We had a little rain during the past week along with mild temperatures during the day and night. It was my guess that I would find some early fall mushrooms beginning to show themselves.
About one hour into my hike, a few meters off of a deer trail, I found a very unique Autumn mushroom called an Entoloma abortivum, or “Shrimp-of-the-Woods. It gets its common name from the similarities between its texture and the texture of Shrimp. Luckily, this mushroom doesn’t have a strong fishy or shrimp-like smell.
I took the picture below during a hike in September a couple of years ago. This picture helps to explain why this mushroom is so unique. The first mushroom (#1) is called a Honey Mushroom (specific species – Armillaria mellea). The second mushroom (#2) is an Entoloma mushroom that is parasitizing the honey mushroom and forming the third mushroom (#3) which is called an Entoloma abortivum.
Michael Kuo explained it well on his website mushroomexpert.com. He says “For over a hundred years it was believed that the lumpy masses of tissue represented an “aborted” form of the Entoloma–like a mushroom that never happened–as the species name suggests. In the seventies, however, mycologists suggested that the masses of tissue might result from parasitizing action on the part of the mycelium of Armillaria mellea. But more recent research (Czederpiltz, Volk & Burdsall, 2001) has turned this idea on its head, suggesting that Entoloma abortivum is the parasite, and Armillaria mellea the victim!”
This is a photo of the Entoloma abortivum that I found yesterday.
Mushrooms for Sunday lunch
The Shrimp-of-the-Woods mushroom is an edible mushroom and I decided to bring it home and store it in the refrigerator overnight. I’m not a trained chef, and I am sure that there are other ways to prepare these mushrooms, but I’ll share with you what I ended up doing for my Sunday lunch today. Personally, I think it turned out really delicious!
Below are some photos and details.
- Cleaning the “Shrimp-of-the-Woods” mushrooms: I first cleaned the mushrooms by cutting off the bottoms of the mushrooms that were in the dirt and then rinsed them in cold water. I didn’t soak the mushrooms since I was afraid that they would act like a sponge and soak up too much water.
- Cooking and Browning: I sliced the mushrooms into smaller pieces and then added them to a preheated (high heat) saucepan and covered them. I didn’t put any oil in the pan yet. Soon the mushrooms were bubbling in their own water that was released due to the heat. This water evaporated off quickly and then I added a small amount of olive oil to lightly coat the mushrooms. I kept the saucepan on medium heat until the mushrooms were browned.
- Preparing the rest of the meal: I wasn’t really prepared to make anything in particular, so I just threw together ingredients and spices that I thought would work and already had in my kitchen. I diced some fresh tomatoes and tossed them in a small amount of olive oil and randomly seasoned them with a mix of spices (salt, pepper, basil, minced garlic, onion powder, paprika, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and a few dashes of crushed red peppers for some “heat”). I topped it off with a little Parmesan cheese. After mixing it all up, I added the mixture to the mushrooms in the saucepan and heated it all up for a few minutes. A quick taste revealed that it would be a perfect topper to a plate of pasta which unfortunately was not one of the foods in my house at that time. It still made an excellent meal. I only wish that I had more, but the season is just beginning this year.
Here are some additional photos of Entoloma abortivum (Shrimp-of-the-woods), Armillaria mellea (Honey Mushrooms) and Armillaria tabescens (Ringless Honey Mushrooms) that I have found in the woods over the past 5 years.