Common Parasol (Macrolepiota procera)
- Similar Species
- Preserving (Drying or Freezing)
- Recipe Suggestions
Macrolepiota procera, the parasol mushroom, is a basidiomycete fungus with a large, prominent fruiting body resembling a parasol. It is a fairly common species on well-drained soils. It is found solitary or in groups and fairy rings in pastures and occasionally in woodland. Globally, it is widespread in temperate regions.
The height and cap diameter of a mature specimen may both reach 40 cm, a size truly impressive for the fruiting body of an agaric. The stipe is relatively thin and reaches full height before the cap has expanded. The stipe is very fibrous in texture which renders it inedible. The surface is characteristically wrapped in a snakeskin-like pattern of scaly growths (therefore, known in some parts of Europe as the “snake’s hat” or “snake’s sponge”). The immature cap is compact and egg-shaped, with the cap margin around the stipe, sealing a chamber inside the cap. As it matures, the margin breaks off, leaving a fleshy, movable ring around the stipe. At full maturity, the cap is more or less flat, with a chocolate-brown umbo in the centre that is leathery to touch. Dark and cap-coloured flakes remain on the upper surface of the cap and can be removed easily. The gills are crowded, free, and white with a pale pink tinge sometimes present. The spore print is white. It has a pleasant nutty smell. When sliced, the white flesh may turn a pale pink.
It is a very sought-after and popular fungus in the United States and Europe, due in part to its large size, seasonal frequency and versatility in the kitchen. In the UK, it may be found from July through to November. The parasol mushroom is difficult to mistake for any other, especially in regions like the US where the poisonous look-alike Chlorophyllum molybdites does not occur. Nevertheless, as with picking any fungus for consumption, caution should be exercised at all times. The parasol mushroom may not be eaten raw, because it is slightly toxic.
In the fall most commonly in grassy areas but also found in woodlands.
Edible and choice.
The parasol mushroom is difficult to mistake for any other, especially in regions like the US where the poisonous look-alike Chlorophyllum molybdites does occur.
Nevertheless, as with picking any fungus for consumption, caution should be exercised at all times.
Preserving (Drying or Freezing):
These mushrooms are popularly sauteed in melted butter. In central and eastern European countries this mushroom is usually prepared similarly to a cutlet. It is usually run through egg and breadcrumbs and then fried in a pan with some oil or butter. Served with white bread, it makes a delicious meal during summer and early fall. A savory Slovak recipe is to bake caps stuffed with ground pork, oregano, and garlic. Italians and Austrians also serve the young, still spherical caps stuffed with seasoned minced beef, baked in the same manner as stuffed peppers.
Linguini With Parasol Mushroom Sauce:
½ cup diced Parasols (or wild mushroom of choice)
1 cup diced white store mushrooms
½ cup diced white onion
1-2 diced garlic cloves
1-2 diced celery stalks
Sauté in olive oil until fragrant – 3-4 minutes.
1 lb lean ground beef
Cook everything together until the meat browns. Add your favorite herbs & spices now. I like basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, ground fennel seed and a pinch of rubbed tarragon.
If you have garden tomatoes, now is a good time to use them. If not, add in 2X28 oz cans diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
I cheated a bit here and also added a can of Campbell’s Cream of Wild Mushroom soup. Note the small amount of Leucoagaricus Americanus I used. This is because of the first time cooking with them, and I didn’t want too much for the initial trial. Feel free to add as much or little as you like of your shroom of choice.
Grill about 4 hot Italian sausages on the BBQ. Slice them diagonally and add to the sauce.
Simmer until thickened – about an hour. Serve on linguini with salad & crusty bread. Garlic bread if you insist.