Crown Tipped Coral (Artomyces pyxidatus)
- Similar Species
- Preserving (Drying or Freezing)
- Recipe Suggestions
Artomyces pyxidatus is a coral fungus that is commonly called crown coral or crown-tipped coral fungus. Its most characteristic feature is the crown-like shape of the tips of its branches. The epithet pyxidatus means “box-like”—a reference to this shape.
Artomyces pyxidatus can be observed throughout Northern Canada during the growing season. In Britain, it was recorded in 2011, almost 116 years after its previous reliable report, a collection made by mycologist Carleton Reale on 20 October 1886. It is widespread but uncommon in Western Europe. The fungus produces its hard, coral-like fruiting bodies on growing wood. Basidia and basidiospores are produced on the surfaces of the branches. These fungi are considered edible when raw, although some people may experience gastrointestinal upset, especially after eating a large quantity. The raw fruiting bodies have a peppery taste that usually disappears when cooked.
The sesquiterpenes compounds pyxidatols A-C, tsuicoline E and omphadiol have been obtained from the liquid culture of this fungus.
Coral-like fruiting bodies on dead wood.
Yes, good with caution. They’re a one of a kind garnish. The lacy, wavy texture, and how they stuck together reminded me of another thing too, the way florentine cookies develop a lacy pattern from having a fat-heavy dough that separates in the oven as they cook, or the pattern that comes from baking good parmesan cheese into tuiles for garnishing salads.
Crown–tipped corals are looser in structure than ramaria, and much more delicate. Crown–tipped corals are always white, or a shade of dingy white due to age. The base of the mushroom where they attach to the wood will be brown. Ramaria mushrooms grow directly from the ground, and come in a variety of colors. NO coral mushroom will kill you, worst case scenario is it will have the same effects as taking a mild laxative…
Preserving (Drying or Freezing):
Stored in a breathable bag, such as a paper bag, in the fridge or a cool place, the mushrooms can keep for several days. Never store the mushrooms in a plastic bag as this turns them soggy and slimy. If storing longer term, place the mushrooms in a plastic container that just holds the mushrooms, sealing the top with plastic wrap. Poke holes in the top of the wrap to allow air and moisture to escape. Dries great.
To make a coral mushroom salad, separate the mushrooms into small clusters, mixing them with other pieces of similarly sized vegetables, such as baby lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes. Dress the salad lightly with a vinaigrette, tossing gently with both hands. Do this just before serving, as dressing too early can cause the mushrooms and lettuce to wilt.
To use coral mushrooms in soups drop small clusters of the mushrooms directly into piping hot bowls of soup. Like with the salad, do this just before serving so they retain their shape. Coral mushrooms, because of their delicate texture, work best with broth-based soups, such as miso soup. Bring dashi stock to a rolling boil, add in the other miso soup ingredients — miso paste, tofu, soy sauce and mirin — and portion into serving bowls. Add the coral mushroom clusters just before sprinkling shredding green onion onto the bowls.
To make pickles, bring the pickling liquid to a rolling boil. Use either leftover pickle brine or your own blend, such as a mix of vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper and water. Once boiling, turn off the heat and pour the pickling liquid into sterilized jars. Fully submerge the mushrooms in the liquid. Their delicate nature means they don’t need to be cooked prior to being jarred. Store pickled coral mushrooms in the refrigerator for upwards of six weeks.
CROWN TIPPED CORAL PARMESAN CRACKERS
Yield: about 6-7 crackers
- 4 oz crown tipped coral clusters, trimmed of bark and picked over for debris and insects
- Kosher salt, a pinch
- 1.5 oz or about 3 tablespoons grated high quality parmesan, such as a locally made variety, grana padano, or parm reggiano
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour or equivalent, gluten free flour, starch, etc
- Flavorless cooking oil, as needed (a spray bottle is perfect)
Preheat the oven to 325. Toss the coral mushrooms, parmesan, pinch of salt and flour together in a mixing bowl, then make small mounds roughly the size of a 1/4 cup on a baking sheet. Discard any remaining flour at the bottom of the bowl. Flatten out the mounds lightly, then spray or drizzle lightly with oil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the mushrooms have wilted and the cheese and flour are very crisp. Flip the cakes occasionally about half way through, pressing down on any raised parts to ensure even crispness. The cheese should be golden, and the crackers evenly crisp, but not burnt. Remove the crackers to a cooling rack or towel to weep any excess oil, then store in a container with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to two days, or refrigerate and toast slightly to re-crisp, and then cool, before eating.
CROWN TIPPED CORAL MUSHROOM CROUTONS
- Crown tipped coral clusters, trimmed of bark and picked over for debris and insects
- Cooking oil, as needed, a small amount, preferably in a spray bottle
- Kosher salt, to taste
- All purpose flour, a small amount, just enough to coat the mushrooms
Toss the coral mushroom clusters with a few good pinches of flour, toss to coat, discard the excess and lay out on a baking sheet. Spray or drizzle the mushrooms lightly with oil and bake for 30 minutes at 325 or until the mushrooms are completely wilted, flat and crisp, then remove from the oven and cool. Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 2 days.