The shaggy mane is so large and distinctive that it is probably one of teh easiest mushrroms to identify. It is a good one for beginners are there is no chance of mixing it up with lots of other types of mushrrom although there are several types if Ink Cap within the group.
they need to be used very soon after collecting as they deteriorate very quickly. The cap of a fresh specimen is a long, white cylinder with shaggy, upturned, brownish scales. The gills are whitish, and the entire mushroom is very fragile and crumbles easily. The old it gets, the more mature the shaggy part gets and start to gradually dissolve into a black, inky fluid, leaving only the standing stalk. Size 4" to 6" tall, sometimes larger.
They can be found inSpring, summer and fall, growing in grass, soil or wood chips. Often seen scattered in lawns and pastures.
Please note Shaggy manes are best when picked before the caps begin to turn black. However, until you become familiar with these mushrooms, check for the developing ink to be sure of your identification.
Semi-Poisonous Inkcap to Avoid - Alchohol Ink Cap
This species often occurs in dense clusters at the base of dying trees or stumps of old trees. It causes palpitations and nausea if eaten with alchohol. The danger will last for days - if you mistakenly eat one, you must not drink alcohol for atleast 3-4 days. It can be eaten though but is not ideal.
(image from wildmanstevebrill.com)
There are many edible fungi, but only a few that are particularly easy to identify. The Inkcaps are among the most distinctive, and are named because their cap decomposes into a black fluid which can be used as ink. They are saprobes, assisting in the decomposition of wood, dung, and other debris. Most of the species have black spore prints and gills that liquefy, at least partially, as the mushroom matures. This is a clever strategy for dispersing spores more efficiently. The gills liquefy from the bottom up and as the cap peels up the maturing spores are always kept in the best position for catching wind currents. This causes the shape of the cap to progress from more or less oval (when seen from the side) to broadly bell-shaped and, eventually, almost flat as the spores closest to the stem are exposed to the air currents.
The Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus) is a common species, edible when young. It prefers highly fertile habitats such as roadsides, nature strips and fertilized areas. It has pleasing flavour, fine texture and high nutrition. This fungus is found worldwide, and occurs widely in grasslands and meadows in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand and is found from late summer to autumn.
The Shaggy Inkcap mushroom has a white skin with tan colouring across its shaggy looking outer flesh. It looks like a hairy goose egg when young, developing a slender bell shape as the margins of the cap rots away. It is during the early growth stages while still oval or egg-shaped that the gills beneath the cap of the young mushrooms are very white and best for eating. As the mushroom ages, the gills darken and blacken as they begin to liquify. Thus, the closed cap stage of growth is the time to consume this mushroom and not when it begins to open. Also known as the Shaggy Inky Cap, Shaggy Mane, Inky Top, and Lawyer's Wig mushroom, the Shaggy Inkcap can be kept only a few hours before beginning to deteriorate, so it is best not to attempt to air dry this mushroom. When prepared fresh, this mushroom is typically served with fish, eggs, or added to sauces. The flavour is delicate (some say bland) and put to best effect in salads. The mushroom keeps poorly and should be used on the day of picking; they autodigest very quickly even when refrigerated. Even so, this is a mushroom worth getting to know.
A close relative of the Shaggy Inkcap is the Common Inkcap, Inky Cap or Alcohol Inkcap as it is also referred This is a variety that is not poisonous unless eaten with alcohol. The Common Inkcap has a smooth appearance without the noticeable shaggy looking outer covering and is generally not recommended as an edible mushroom due to its interaction with alcohol. The Common Inkcap has a greyish or brownish grey cap that
is initially bell-shaped, is furrowed and later splits. It later flattens before melting. The very crowded gills are whitish at first but rapidly turn black and easily deliquesce. The short stem is grey. It is important to note that alcohol of any kind must not be consumed while eating the Common Inkcap mushrooms, or for several days before or after eating them, due to the potential for causing severe illness. The combination of alcohol with Inkcap mushrooms may cause heart palpitations and vomiting, so extreme caution must be taken when preparing any type of food with the Common Inkcap mushrooms - hence
another common name, Tippler's Bane. Although very unpleasant, the syndrome has not been associated with any fatalities. The symptoms can occur if even a small amount of alcohol is consumed up to 3 days after eating the mushrooms and continue for over a week.
Careful collecting and gentle handling of Inkcaps are essential to keep them intact. Do not cut these mushrooms into small pieces as the tissues are tender and they cooks quickly. Shaggy manes can be sautéed in butter with chopped onions, salt and pepper, and added to soup or pasta. Much liquid is released from the mushrooms when they are heated. Pouring off the fluid for later use will speed up the cooking process. Its unique
aromatic taste is transferred to the other foods and liquid with which it is prepared. Dairy dishes, soups, pasta, and poultry pick up its savouriness exceptionally well.
Shaggy manes can be breaded and deep fried or cooked in butter with garlic and parsley, then stirred in beaten eggs and black pepper to make an omelette of it all. The shaggy inkcaps have a pleasant, delicate flavour, quite nutty, rather like almonds
Shaggy Mane Inkcap Casserole Supreme recipe
2 cups shaggy manes
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup milk
1 cup mushroom soup (homemade or canned)
2 pounds broccoli
Salt and pepper
2 cups cubed ham
1 ½ cups stuffing mix
Saute onions in butter until opaque; add mushrooms and sauté briefly until tender. Stir in milk and soup. Put one-third of the broccoli in a well-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with seasonings and put one-third of ham, one-third of sauce and one-third of the stuffing mix on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used. Bake at 350 degrees (175 degrees C.) for thirty minutes or until broccoli is tender. (Brussels sprouts or asparagus may be substituted for the broccoli.) of time and reheat it when you want to eat it.
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Wild Mushroom Identification - Recommended Books for All Skill Levels: Every amateur mycologist should have a decent library of books, here are the top five books I highly recommend for wild mushroom identification:
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