We know it is the end of summer when we see the first wild mushrooms arriving at the market. Australia now has an excellent variety of farmed exotic mushrooms (baby king browns pictured) so we can enjoy these fun-guys year round.
There is always something special about wild mushrooms. To the untrained eye it can be a little daunting, but professional mushroom foragers can spot the safe from the toxic as easily as you know your footy team from your foes.
With all wild food there are good and bad years, and with mushrooms rain followed by some sun is critical to them sprouting and not rotting or being devoured by the little critters which also find them delicious.
Slippery jacks are among the first we see each season, and they are a little strange with a somewhat smiley top (thus the name) and a spongey flesh. It is recommended to peel the tops, as some people find it disagreeable and it is reported to have a laxative effect.
Mushrooms love butter. It is sad that people often cook mushrooms in over crowded pans, turning them an insipid sad grey. Living up to their reputation as meat for vegetarians, mushrooms benefit greatly from browning in a pan. They love a good hit of pepper and salt, and like most things, butter and then more butter is a good thing. Eat them on toast, or serve with roasted and grilled meats.
Herbs like thyme, parsley and tarragon are especially good when paired with the humble shroom.
If you find exotic or wild mushrooms are expensive you can pair them with some of the more economical farmed products. Asian grocers are an excellent source of flavoursome varieties such as king brown, enoki and shitake.
A genuine seasonal bounty. Enjoy them while they are here. The season ends as abruptly as it starts. The first have made it to the Queen Victoria Market, and we will see a more over the coming weeks.