Botanical: Russula xerampelina
Description: Cap 5 to 14 cm, convex, later flattening and with a depression, colors varied and mixed, dull purples, reds, wine-colored, cinnamon, straw, fawn, brick or dull brown, moderately firm, sometimes hard, soon dry and matte; margin eventually furrowed, one-quarter peeling at most. Stalk 1 to 4 cm x 3 to 12 cm, white or tinted rose, staining honey to brownish ochre especially on bruising, firm to hard, firmly snapping unless wormy. Flesh white, firmly snapping. Taste mild. Smell mild to fishy with age. Gills adnate to adnexed, creamy white becoming dull yellowish to brown, fairly broad and thick.
Habitat: Solitary to common under conifers, mostly Douglas fir; fall.
4 Key ID:
- Smooth maroon / dark brown / olive cap; not red
- White stalk with localized pink blush; not all red
- Stalk slowly bruises yellow, snaps like chalk
- Taste not peppery
Edibility: Good to choice.
Notes: This mushroom is extremely variable, but the keys above should make for easy identification, especially with a nibble-n-spit test. The young mushrooms caps are mild and great for stuffing & broiling, and the middle-aged mushrooms have enough of the shrimp characteristic to work well as a mild meat or seafood substitute. Old or dried mushrooms can be downright fishy, but that can be advantageous in Asian or strong dishes.
Russula Cheese Chowder
1 large onion, chopped
2 T. butter
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup water + 1 cup chicken stock
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 t. dried dill
1 lb. Russula xerampelina, chopped
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
salt and pepper
2 grates fresh nutmeg
1 cup grated Swiss or Cheddar cheese
- Saute onion in butter in large pot over medium heat.
- Add potatoes, water, stock, wine, salt, pepper, and dill. Simmer covered until potatoes are tender.
- Add mushrooms, milk, cream, and nutmeg. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add cheese and keep on low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.