Although most people associate wild mushrooms with Autumn, the fungi-phile does not need to wait that long. One of the most truly delicious species, St George’s mushroom (Tricholoma gambosum), is now bursting forth in local fields . . .
This Easter fungus is one of Britain’s most flavourful species, with a wonderful mealy taste that works particularly well with white meat or eggs. These grow in rough, untidy, rings in grassland and gills, stalk and cap are all off-white, but are shaped like a conventional mushroom. The guide books say the cap has the texture of kid leather, but a better guide is the strong mealy scent. Should you find such a ring, you are on fairly strong ground, because although there are poisonous white ‘ring’ mushrooms, these are all autumn species.
The name stems from the English saint’s day (23 April) when they are traditionally supposed to emerge – although in general they come up a week or so later (sign up for the newsletter to get this season’s news). They continue to fruit for several weeks, but by early June they will be over.
While they remain abundant, however, scour ancient pastures for this white-capped bonanza. Indeed, the mushroom is itself a very long-lived. There are some circles that are known to be at least Mediaeval in origin and provided the pasture is undisturbed by ploughing or chemicals, there is no reason why your great grandchildren should not cash in on your finds.