A lobster mushroom may not be something you know very well. However, this type of fungus is considered a delicacy and can be a tasty addition to any dish. Don’t let the name discourage you, as the lobster mushroom is full of flavor and aroma.
The 9 Facts About Lobster Mushrooms
Fact #1: The lobster mushroom is a result of a parasite
A lobster mushroom looks quite different from other mushrooms, and this is a direct result of the parasite fungus Hypomyces. This fungus grows on top of other mushrooms, particularly Russula and Lactarius. The transformation these undergo results in the color, shape, flavor, and aroma that lobster mushrooms are known for.
Fact #2: These mushrooms are not hard to find
Despite common belief, the lobster mushroom is not hard to come by. To search for lobster mushrooms, go out in the woods and look for bright and red spots, but not black or brown, and more likely hiding under the leaves.
If you live near the woods, you can start looking for these mushrooms right around the end of summer. Start by looking where other mushrooms could be and you may be in luck. If you see one cap, you will likely find another one nearby.
Fact #3: You want to look for dense and heavy lobster mushrooms
Before you pick up any mushroom, try and find one that is heavy and dense. Once the lobster mushroom is light, crinkly, and has a weird odor, then it means that it is too old.
Fact #4: If it smells bad, it is bad
While many people sometimes ignore the smell, when it comes to the lobster mushroom, you never want to pick a smelly, fishy mushroom. When a lobster mushroom is old, it will turn dark purple, wrinkle and start to smell like dead fish.
Fact #5: Be sure to clean your lobster mushrooms thoroughly
Since the lobster mushrooms are a product of a parasitic mushroom, it makes sense that they also serve as a home base for many other creatures. If you plan on harvesting lobster mushrooms, the first thing you need to do is trim the dirty ends, brush the mushroom clean, and shake out any possible things from inside.
When you are home, you may also want to run a damp towel over the mushrooms one last time to ensure no dirt or animal is in there. Try not to get your lobster mushroom wet, as this will likely damage them quickly.
Fact #6: When your lobster mushrooms are going bad, try drying them!
Older mushrooms do not always have to be thrown out. If your lobster mushrooms are not smelly and still look relatively sturdy, you can dehydrate them to keep for longer periods. Use a food dehydrator, or your oven, and turn your old mushrooms into a powder, which can then be added to any meal for umami and flavor.
Fact #7: Lobster mushrooms taste better when cooked with heat and fat
Dried lobster mushrooms can be bitter if you use them in excess, but you can still add them to your meals in small quantities. If you are planning to cook your fresh lobster mushrooms, then using heat and fat is a great technique to draw out the flavors and hide the bitterness.
When you prepare your lobster mushrooms under heat and fat, they will turn a bit yellow, almost turmeric-colored. This is a great characteristic that can come in handy when you want to prepare things like pasta, risotto, or soups.
Fact #8: The flavor is a bit fishy but mild
As the name suggests, lobster mushrooms taste a little like lobster. However, the taste is truly subtle, which makes them a great choice for mixing with other ingredients as well. You can add other types of mushrooms, such as chanterelles, shiitake, or porcini. Don’t add too many vegetables, though, as the flavors can get too overwhelming, the more simplicity in your dish, the better the lobster mushroom will taste.
Fact #9: Eat your fresh mushrooms quickly!
Though you may already know this, fresh mushrooms do not last long. If you are planning on cooking your fresh lobster mushrooms, you should consume them within a day or two at most. Eating old mushrooms can cause intoxication and very dangerous side effects, so make sure to label your mushrooms with the correct date.
Surprise yourself with a lobster mushroom!
Now that you are aware of all the tricks and tips for harvesting and preparing lobster mushrooms, you are ready to use them any time. Be sure to identify the mushrooms correctly, clean them properly, and cook them right away. You can also dry them for later use and to have around as a spice in your kitchen. So, what are you waiting for? Bring on the lobster mushrooms!
Now that you’ve learned about this wonderful mushroom, why not try a dish made from it. Check out this fantastic Lobster Mushroom Mac and Cheese recipe!