KPMS Mushroom of the Month for April 2009
Photo © Michael Wood,
courtesy of MykoWeb
||Cap 6-12cm across, flattened-convex becoming depressed and wavy, bluish-lilac to purple-pink at first then more brownish, drying paler. Stem 2-5cm x 1-3cm, often slightly bulbous at the base, bluish-lilac, fibrillose, frequently lilac-colored mycelium at the base. Flesh thick, soft, bluish-lilac to buff. Taste and smell taste not distinctive, pleasant, or slightly bitter; odor fragrant and non-mushroomy. Gills attached to the stem - sometimes by a notch - or beginning to run down the stem; close or crowded; pale lavender to violet or lilac; sometimes grayish purple when fresh; fading to buff, pinkish-buff or brownish in age. Spore print pale pink.
||singly to gregariously in coniferous and deciduous woodlands, hedgerows, fields and gardens, fall to mid-winter.
||Lilac cap & gills; attached (notched) gills; no veil; short stout stem; pink spore print; distinctive odor (once learned).
||Fair to Choice. It varies greatly in taste and texture, from quite good to not so good. Known to cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten raw.
||Blewits were formerly Lepista nuda and are now Clitocybe nuda, since recent molecular research suggests the genus Lepista is nested within Clitocybe. They are often infested with fly larvae and don't store very well; they should cleaned & used or dried soon after picking, and always cooked. Older or regional specimens can be more tan, but usually have purplish tones on the stem and gills. Other lilac-purple mushrooms are commonly Cortinarius which ave a rusty brown spore print and frequently a cobwebby veil or remnants, or more infrequently Mycena pura with white spores, or Inocybe geophylla with brown spores. Thus a spore print is the mandatory characteristic for identification once the other primary keys are satisfied. Blewits are also fairly easy to wild-craft at home. Bring home undisturbed sections of the mycelium from the wilds or the base of mushrooms with their mycelia, and place them just under the surface of your cold/slow compost pile or under the edges of a large hardwood leaf pile. You may have a blewit explosion next fall!
Recipe: Red, White & Blewit Hash
This is a timely use for leftover Thanksgiving turkey and blewits. Enjoy topped with a poached or fried egg.
8 oz. fresh or 1 oz. reconstituted Clitocybe nuda
8 oz. each red & white new potatoes
8 oz. leftover turkey breast, cubed small
1 small leek, white part only
1/2 small fennel bulb, white part only
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1/4 C. Greek yogurt
1/2 t. orange zest
1 T. chopped fennel fronds
Cut the leek in half length-wise, then 1/4" slices across. Slice the fennel bulb into equivalent sizes. Gently saute both in 1 T. oil in a non-stick pan until tender without browning, remove and set aside. Clean the blewits and quarter or half them depending on size. Saute gently in 2 T. oil until liquid evaporates and set aside. Quarter or half the potatoes and bring to a simmer in cold salted water, cook until mostly tender but not soft (note that they may cook at different rates), drain dry. Add cooked mushrooms, potatoes, turkey, remaining oil, and salt & pepper to a large non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat, toss frequently until lightly browned & heated through. Remove from heat, add the reserved leek/fennel mixture, yogurt and orange zest. Toss together and serve topped with fennel fronds.