St George Mushroom Identification, Look-alikes and Recipes
Updated: Sep 9
The St George's mushroom is a very early fruiting variety of mushroom. In this post you will learn its look-alikes, how to identify it, how to cook it cook and the best ways to eat it.
What an exciting time of the year it is.. Nature wakes up in the Spring and the whole ecological system begins to work again. New birth with the new shoots and blossoms, plants begin to seed and the whole cycle of life starts again… And we start to get the first flushes of one of my favourite wild foods, the Mushroom.
With the Morel mushroom season well underway, the second edible wild mushroom to appear each year is the St George mushroom. So let's learn a little more about this tasty mushroom.
The St George Mushroom
The St George’s Mushroom or to give it its Latin name, Calocybe gambosa is so called because it is here for April 23rd or St George’s day!
However, this delicious and easy to recognise wild mushroom is quite common past St George’s day and can persist all the way through to early June.
The St George’s mushroom can be found where there’s grass. It likes open pasture (the longer the fields have been undisturbed the better). It can also be found by the sides of roads, on the edges of woods or even on lawns – short grass is a must! If you are lucky enough, you might even find them growing in your own lawn!
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What does the St George's Mushroom look like?
The mushrooms cap, gills and stem are all creamy white to pale tan. The cap is between 5 – 12cm in size and the stem is thick and even more so at the base. The cap is domed with an in-rolled edge that becomes thick and wavy pointing inwards to white, crowded gills. The mushroom is dry in appearance and firm to the touch a great way to recognise them is also by their smell which is potently mealy.
These mushrooms are very firm and solid feeling and heavy for their size
They are white, tan or cream coloured
The rim of the cap curls under slightly
The gills are very close together and white
They smell mealy or of oats
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Can you eat the St George Mushroom?
Oh yes you can.. St George’s mushrooms eat well.. Very well! What I love is the texture, they are thick and extremely firm a really substantial mushroom. The flavour is also rich and echoes of the mealy’ness that is so potent in the uncooked mushrooms although the mealy’ness does calm with cooking.
If the flavour is to much for you, simply pick the small mushrooms as the flavour develops with age. However, if you are like me you’ll simply love them and cook them without hesitation - whatever their size!!
The flavour of the St George’s mushroom lends itself to many other flavours to me it is only the season that limits you.
Cooking St George's Mushrooms
We have already discussed its mealy taste and firm texture. But how should you cook it? The St George Mushroom is another mushroom that must be cooked before consumption. It has tough fibrous walls in its cells that cooking helps to breakdown, also the heat of cooking removes any trace toxins that may be in the mushroom.
From a nutritional point of view, cooking St George's, in fact any mushroom, also helps to release the nutrients hidden in these delicious fungi. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods.
St George Mushroom Recipes
The St George's mushroom is a delicious and highly sought gourmet mushroom. The French hold it in particulalry high regard and call it the 'Mousseron de la St Georges'. The mushroom becomes more mealy with age, so choose the youngest mushrooms for consumption. The St George Mushroom is also an excellent contendor for drying.
Like all wild mushrooms, the simplest way to cook this mushroom is to fry it with butter, garlic and fresh thyme. Served on crunchy toast, it is an absolute winner. It also pairs very well with creamy sauces, so instead try frying in butter, add a splash of white wine and the finish with cream (as well as some seasoning of course).
These delicious mushrooms are very low in water and hold their firm texture very well. Try them as a topping to steak, to fish, or with scrambled eggs. Or cooked, again with cream, but also with some chopped Wild Sorrel.
Here's a couple of our own favourite St George mushroom recipes:
St George’s Mushroom identification and the lookalikes:
The St George’s mushroom is a good mushroom for people starting out on Mushroom hunting to practice on as there are very few species that’s own seasons overlap. I list these mushrooms on my St George’s Mushroom Identification and look-alikes guide below.
The St Georges mushroom is a very early fruiting variety of mushroom that fruits in late April through to early June. This period is very early for mushrooms and because of this there isn’t many mushrooms that you can mistake for the St George.
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However, nature being nature and because there is some similar looking species that fruit in early summer it is worth knowing about them however dissimilar they look.
The St George’s Mushroom
Colour: Creamy White to tan
Shape: Domed Mushroom with a flattish cap and wavy margin. The thick stem and gills are both white.
Cap: 5 – 12 cm
Season: Late April to June
Habitat: Short grass almost everywhere, sometimes can be found in large rings. Edible
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The Red Staining Inocybe
Colour: Cream to straw coloured ages brick red. Reddish fibres can sometimes be seen on the cap.
Shape: Conical in shape and often wavy and bent
Cap: 3 – 8cm Olive / Yellow Gills and flesh when cut
Season: Late Spring to Autumn (sometimes as early as May)
Habitat: Woodland verge loving, woods and parks.
The Entoloma Lividium
Colour: Creamy White
Shape: Large Fleshy Cap with similar inrolled edge
Cap: 6 – 18cm Distinguished by the gills which start pale yellow and mature flesh coloured
Season: Summer to Autumn (Sometimes Early Summer)
Habitat: Rich soil at field and woodland edges and paths
Colour: Cream with Brown radial fibres Shape: Conical with a raised centre
Cap: 4 - 8cm the gills are buff in colour, darkening with age
Habitat: Broad leaf woodland but can be pasture that surrounds the woods
The Livid Entoloma, Red Staining Inocybe and Deadly Fibrecap are uncommon especially during May when the St George’s mushroom is in its peak fruiting season! But never assume that they are not there. With changing seasonal temperatures, the traditional seasons of wild mushrooms are not to be trusted.
Summing up, the St George mushroom is a delicious firm and very edible wild mushroom. Its timing, being an early appearing edible mushroom means that there are few look-alikes to be wary about, but wary you must be. That being said, when the cold months of late winter are coming to an end, my thoughts get firmly fixed on the season ahead. If you are not able to find the delicious Morel mushroom near you, the St George's mushroom might be the first wild mushroom meal that you enjoy in the new season.
Remember never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% confident that you know what they are and do not use this article as your sole method of identification! Take direct advice from seasoned foragers.
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