Tuesday 22 May 2007

#15 Lactarius deliciosus

Lactarius deliciosus, Saffron Milk Cap, belongs to the family Russulaceae. Lactarius species exude latex (milky fluid) when cut. When cut, the latex stains the brittle flesh bright orange. This is an introduced species that forms a mycorrizal association (symbiotic fungal dependency) with introduced pines.

Orange gills and blotched stem of young specimen

The cap is convex (rounded or domed) at first, with a central depression, becoming broadly funnel-shaped. Surface texture is smooh and dry, but is often viscid (slimy) when wet. Spore print is pale yellow, and cap can reach 160mm diameter.

When young, the cap is carrot-orange or sometimes a dull apricot colour, and can have concentric (circular) zones of colour. Caps and stalks become a dull greenish colour when aged or bruised.

A cut fungus displays the cut surface stained bright orange

Gills are orange at first, bruising greenish with age, decurrent (running down the stem), and various lengths. The stem is stout and up to 70mm in height, blotched orange when young, often becoming greenish with age.

This species is reported to be edible with the correct preparation, but I can not vouch for its palatability. I am unsure as to the distribution of Lactarius deliciosus.

Illustrating the sometimes apricot cap and circles of colour

My sightings of Lactarius deliciosus

[This will be updated with more sightings]

Hanging Rock, New England region of NSW - in and near pine plantations: Mar, Apr, May.

An aged specimen with a matchbox for size comparison


Evan said...

I assume from the species name that it would be "delicious"? Or does that have a different meaning?


Anonymous said...

hi Evan,

regarding the palatability of Lactarius deliciosus, these are some of the remarks I've found on the internet:

".....requires long, slow cooking to eliminate the grainy texture and slightly bitter taste."

".....is edible, though I do not recomend it. It had a rather grainy texture and sour taste when I tried it."

".....generally considered to be edible and tasty."

These comments don't ring of praise to warrant the "deliciosus" tag, and I didn't find any comments that contained words like "delicious" or "mouthwatering". So the name is a bit of a mystery, and I'm not about to try them to form my own opinion :)

I'm pleased you're still reading my blog, and hope you fared ok in the Hunter storms and floods.



Unknown said...

Just found this blog. Lovely pics and good info.

I've regularly gobbled these milkcaps for about forty years. They really are delicious. Large ones I slice and smaller ones I leave whole and lightly cook in butter with a bit of crushed garlic. They don't bleed out much water when cooking and hold their shape well. Texture and taste are a bit like tender veal.

I had no idea they were edible until some Lithuanian friends pounced on our crop one autumn. They took a bucketful home for their dinner. I wouldn't try them until I phoned them the next day to see if they were still alive!

Do try them, they really are delicious. If too old and beginning to turn up their edges, they can get a bit tough. Young ones are best. Much, much tastier and better in texture than the slimy European boletus in whose company you often find the milkcaps growing. Milkcaps only grow in a symbiotic partnership with Pinus trees. Bruise their gills and they turn green. Don't be put off by this, which really determines that they are the edible variety.

Gaye said...

hi d.mcd, and thank you very much for sharing your fungi eating experiences with me. It is a tricky thing to be eating wild mushrooms, so longterm experience is very welcome.


Unknown said...

Hi Gaye,
Thank you for the information on milk caps. We found them growing close to a pine tree on our property in the Southern Highlands and were hesitant to eat them until we identified the fungi with the help of your Blog.
We sliced and cooked them in a pan with olive oil and butter, finely chopped garlic, Italian parsley - as their name infers - delicious!


Gaye said...

hi Rob,

thank you for leaving a comment. It is most interesting to know of other people's culinary experiences with field fungi.


Kelly said...

Hi Gaye, like Rob above, we had the confidence to eat these after using your blog, and wiki ( what confidence?!) to identify the, They were delicious. What a fantastic resoure your blog is.

Bloke said...

As a long time Mushomane .... the Lactarius is definitely Deliciosus, meaty with earthy and jammy notes when fried in olive oil and garlic. Add cream at the end to pull out all the flavour and serve over fresh pasta. Bonza!

Gaye said...

Hello Kel and Bloke,

I apologise for the lengthy delay in posting your very welcome comment. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your culinary experience with these fungi. I may just have to be adventurous and get stuck into some of these, and other, field fungi that readers have recommended.

Once again, thank you most sincerely.


Anonymous said...

I've been hunting around my place on the mornington peninsula for these for a few weeks, having met a greek bloke picking them on the roadside and combining his info with the net and another mate who sells them to restaurants in town. Found a heap yesterday and have enjoyed eating them without adverse effect. cooked with the same recipe everyone else seems to be using. Thanks for the great site. Confirmed for me i was on to the right thing. (though seeing an old man with plenty freshly picked sealed the deal.) Taste good. Nice texture. JVC

Gaye said...

Hello JVC,

thank you very much for commenting on your experience with this fungus for the table - I appreciate this sort of feedback.

Happy mushrooming!


Simon said...

Hi Gaye

Thankyou for this website. I live in South Australia and regularly walk the dogs at Second Valley Forest.
Lactarius grow everywhere up there. Had no idea they were edible.

Had previously seen some mushrooms at the central markets that looked very similar to the ones up at Second Valley so that got me searching and I came across your website that sealed the deal for me.

Went up there a couple of days ago collected some and ate them. Delicious. Did not find them grainy at all and they had a earthy, nutty flavour. I prefer these to field mushrooms.

Thanks again.


PS Central markets sell them for $8 per 250g.

Fiona said...

These mushrooms ARE delicious. I walk on Table Mountain with my dogs and am lucky to have found a small area where I collect about 5kgs each winter! Fortunately my neighbours are too nervous to pick them, but now that I've lived through so many "pine ring winters" they enjoy my wild mushroom ragout!
I enjoy them well-cooked in garlic, butter/olive oil and a touch of chilli. Add parmesan cheese and pasta and WOW!

Anonymous said...

I was born in Catalonia and I can assure you these mushrooms carry a big price tag in local markets/restaurants in/around the area.Their taste/texture is much appreciated.Around 20-25 euro per kilo.Best small/medium size.

Gaye said...

Sincere thanks to all who have left comments. It is great to find out where others are seeing these fungi, and especially helpful to hear of first-hand experiences with cooking and eating.

Please keep the responses coming.


Anonymous said...

Hi Guys

Like all mushrooms, these guys can envelop dirt and debris as they grow (commercial growers freak out about glass shards getting into their beds) - so pick caps that are growing from the sides of inclines to lessen the chance of that gritty problem (I never have this issue anymore). Also, if there has been frost or rain since they have fruited, the caps get a little sticky so wipe them over wih dry paper towel. Younger specimens have firmer and denser flesh, with less debris problems. If you pick older specimens (usually over 10cm) saffrons tend to develop a conical or depressed shape which traps moisture, bugs and debris.

Having said this, they are AWESOME cooking mushrooms. They can have a mildly bitter taste if lightly or undercooked, so if you are new to them try them in a casserole, vegetable soup or baked dish. They are amazingly flavoursome (quite umami) and pair well with other other meaty flavours.

I have gathered these for years in pine forests and they are amazingly good.

TLC988 said...

Hi all,
I am wondering how to store these mushrooms? Any advice?? I find that they tend to turn blue when we pick them and cut them from the stem. Later when we got from from blue mountains from picking, they turn brown!

Anonymous said...

I pick these mushrooms in Northern Canada. As for storing them, I generally saute in butter then freeze, but you can dry them as well.

Anonymous said...

hi all,

I am from Cyprus.
Saffron milk caps are considered to be a deliacacy in my island. These wild mushrooms are truely delicious even though other wild species have better reviews. i believe it is a matter of taste.
they are completely safe to eat but be sure this is what you picked up.
identification is quite easy.

Zegarnek said...

Hi, I come from Poland and these gorgeous fungi are treated as being from the top shelf. Wiki says:



Sliced milk-caps, showing the orange milk appearing at mushroom edges

Lactarius deliciosus is a widely collected mushroom in the Southern Pyrenees and Majorca and used in Spanish Cuisine. One recipe recommends they should be lightly washed, fried whole cap down in olive oil with a small amount of garlic and served drenched in raw olive oil and parsley. The same recipe advised that butter should never be used when cooking this mushroom.

Further north and east it is a feature of Proven├žal cuisine.[12]

They are also collected in Poland, where they are traditionally served fried in butter, with cream, or marinated.

In Russian cuisine these mushrooms are prepared with pickling and then eaten with sour cream.

They are also well known in Cyprus, where they are usually cooked on charcoal and marinated with olive oil and lemon, or fried with onions with red wine.

In some older guides, the saffron milk cap is considered an excellent mushroom, having 'a crisp texture'. In fact, when naming the mushroom (deliciosus = delicious), the mycologist had mistaken the mushroom with Lactarius sanguifluus, which is an excellent, pleasantly crunchy mushroom. Today, most mycologists hold Lactarius sanguifluus in higher esteem than its pretender, Lactarius deliciosus.