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Candy Cap Mushrooms
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Candy Cap mushrooms are very small, with caps roughly a half to 1.75 inches in size. The mushrooms have very round chocolate brown or burnt-orange caps that are slightly bumpy with a center divot. Pale orange gills line the underside of the cap and run down into the stem. Fresh Candy Cap mushrooms produce a milky latex liquid when cut. The flesh mirrors the pale orange color of the gills. This unique mushroom offers a burnt sugar or maple syrup-like taste and is lightly aromatic. When dried, the aroma of Candy Cap mushrooms intensifies and can permeate an entire room for a year. Use caution when trying to identify wild mushrooms; unless there is a 100% certainty of a mushroom’s identification, do not eat or touch it.
Fresh Candy Cap mushrooms are available from mid to late winter.
Candy Cap mushrooms can be one of two different species, Lactarius rubidus or Lactarius rufulus, though it is more commonly the former. Lactarius rufulus is a larger mushroom. Unlike most fungus, fresh Candy Cap mushrooms are most often found in sweet dishes. These mushrooms are generally foraged and fetch a higher price than most wild mushrooms.
Many mushrooms from the Lactarius species have been used by various cultures over the centuries for their medical benefit. Some species contain anti-carcinogenic properties and others contain anti-viral properties.
Candy Cap mushrooms are most often used in their dried form, ground into a powder. These sweet smelling mushrooms are often used in breads and pastries. Fresh applications are rare.
The abundance of Candy Cap mushrooms in the San Francisco area has led to its appearance on many local restaurant dessert menus. The popularity of another Lactarius species is revealed by its image on Romanian and Polish postage stamps in the late 1950s.
Candy Cap mushrooms are native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found growing along the West coast of the United States. The small mushrooms are often found growing beneath conifers like pine or hardwoods like oak, amidst the moss or on rotting wood. Multiple varieties of the Lactarius species exist, such as L. camphoratus and L. fragilis, all of which are known as milkcap mushrooms for the milky latex they exude. The difference in varieties is greatly dependent upon environment, location and tree host. Lactarius species exist around the world, most often in cooler, northern environments.
Recipes that include Candy Cap Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
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