Fresh Wild Lobster Mushrooms
Wild Lobster Mushrooms are a reddish-orange spotted and mottled mushroom that grows in many forests, especially throughout hemlock groves. Since lobsters are actually mushrooms being affected by a parasitic fungus, its likely that you’ll find them thriving in the same area as their host mushrooms, namely milk-caps and brittlegills. The wild lobster mushroom is probably the only common edible mushroom that is first attacked by a parasitic fungus before being consumed. This fungus turns the texture of the mushroom granular, brittle and dense while the host mushrooms layered flavors are enhanced by the malicious hitchhiker. This is also the reason behind the lobster’s vibrant orange color and full-bodied flavor that strongly resembles seafood and, of course, lobsters.
Other Name: Hypomyces lactifluorum
Season: August – November
Origin: Pacific Northwest, USA
Shelf Life: Up to ten days fresh. A year or longer dried. Several months frozen.
Nutritional Facts: 50 grams (about 2 cups) of lobster mushrooms contain 160 calories, 32% of the RDA* of iron, 16% of the RDA of calcium, 8% of the RDA of carbs and dietary fiber, and 4% of the RDA of protein. Many people do not get enough iron in their diets, leading them to not have enough oxygen-bearing red blood cells. By incorporating iron-rich foods like lobster mushrooms into your diet, you can avoid the tiredness and irritability that comes with oxygen deprivation.
Scientific Facts: The wild lobster mushroom is not actually a mushroom but a parasitic fungus. The parasite, Hypomyces lactifluorum, attacks a host mushroom, usually a milk cap or brittlegill mushroom, turning it orange, brittle, twisted, and virtually unrecognizable. This makes it impossible for the host mushroom to do anything but feed the parasite and spread its spores. Thankfully for us, the parasite is completely safe for human consumption and only adds more layers and depth of flavor to the host mushroom.
Tips: Lobster mushrooms are often paired with seafood or substituted for lobster to make a normally meaty dish vegetarian. They particularly pair well with milk and/or eggs. Before cooking, clean gently with a damp paper towel or designated brush to remove dirt. Do not soak them.
Read more about wild lobster mushrooms here!