Field Blewit and Wood Blewits
Blewits get their name the French meaning of Blue or 'Bleuet'. Although not blue, the purple - blue staining on the stems is the first thing that you'll see when you find a patch. The Field Blewit or Lepista saeva has distinctive violet stem, hence its common name of blue legs.
In times gone by, it was very popular in the Midlands and was traditionally regarded as an acceptable substitute for tripe (not so appealing, I know). However, the Field Blewit is considered an excellent culinary mushroom, and lends itself to long slow cooking in soups and stews (hence the affiliation).
Are Field Blewits edible?
Field blewits are considered to be fine edible mushrooms as long as they are properly prepared. They can cause stomach discomfort in some sensetive individuals, so it's recommended to start with just a small sample. They taste excellent, slightly nutty and have a firm meat that makes for excellent eating.
What does a Field Blewit look like?
The 5-13cm (2-5in) in diameter pale brown to grey caps are flat, smooth, asymmetrical, and curl under at the margins. Sometimes older specimens have a dome in the centre of the cap. The flesh seems transparent and jelly-like. The blue to violet stems are inflated at the base, and the gills are white to greyish pink.
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What's the difference between a Wood Blewit and Field Blewit?
Similar in look to the Field Blewit, the Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda) is smaller and a more delicate mushroom, but the colour of its cap, gills and stalk are a more pronounced violet blue.
Like the Field Blewit, it is also edible but has a more subtle flavour, both types of Blewit should not be eaten raw.
The Wood Blewit can be found in deciduous and coniferous woods and if Field Blewits are not available, they make an excellent substitute. Wood Blewits have been found all the way into February, so have a slightly longer fruiting season than the Field.
Field Blewit Look alikes
Possibly mistaken for the Purple-Stemmed Webcap (Cortinarius violaceus). Webcaps usually grow close to trees because of their relationship with them and their roots. You'll more likely find these in close proximity to Wood Blewits. Frequently, Webcaps also have a rust-brown spore deposit on their stems. The majority of the Field Blewit species live in grasslands. Although not poisonous, leave the Webcap in the field (or forest), even if you are 100% that it is a Webcap. They are incredibly rare and have a couple of relatives that are not so friendly (and deadly). So best left alone.
When are Field Blewits in season?
Blewits begin to appear in October and may persist until the new year. The best time to harvest these mushrooms is on a dry autumn day.
What is the Field Blewits habitat?
Fairly common in the UK, but not as common as the Wood Blewit. Field Blewits typically grow in rings on rough pastures. When you find a patch, pick only the young mushrooms. Leaving the older ones to drop their spores for next season. They quickly 'go over' too.
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Field Blewit Recipes
Field Blewits must be cooked well and I like to cook them long and slow. They have firm flesh and a slightly nutty flavour and they are amazing in a Stroganoff. You can also use and rehydrate dried Blewits for this recipe (however, you'll need 300g wet weight of Blewits).
Blewit Mushroom Stroganoff
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chpped
300g Field Blewits or Wood Blewits, chopped
150ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp soured cream
small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently sweat the onion for about 5 mins. Next, add the paprika and garlic, then cook for 1 min more. Add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat, stirring often, for another 5 mins. Add the stock and healthy splash of Worcester sauce and season (if you are rehydrating Blewits for this recipe, use a little of the water that you soaked them in for an extra mushroom'y punch!). Bring to the boil, and reduce for 5 mins or until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and stir through the soured cream and the parsley. Serve with cooked rice, perhaps a salad, and a good red wine.
The Field Blewit is a high quality edible mushroom, which I really enjoy cooking. The Wood Blewit is also very good. The Field Blewits perfumed and mushroomy taste and smell are delicious slow cooked. They are widspread, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that they are extremely common, so if you are lucky enough to find a patch, do try out the Stroganoff recipe. It is an autumnal favourite in our house and one that you'll want to cook again and again.
Remember: Unless you are 100% you are eating the correct mushroom do not eat it. Picking and eating mushrooms is only for the most seasoned forager. If you want to enjoy wild mushrooms why not sign up to a foraging course near you and learn and take guidance directly from an expert.
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