Autumn to me means wild mushroom foraging and that is hands down one of my favourite yearly rituals. One that’s been done for thousands of years too. There’s nothing like spending time in the peace and quiet of the pine forest with that fresh mountain air.
The two varieties of wild mushroom generally found on a forage in Sydney include… 1) Saffron milk cap mushrooms (also known as Pine mushrooms or Lactarius deliciosus) and 2) Slippery Jack mushrooms (Suillus luteus). The Saffron milk caps are the large pink mushrooms. The small brown one is the token Slippery Jack that made it into my basket. They’re much harder to identify!
Mushroom health benefits
Nature can be so clever, can’t it? Autumn is a time we find ourselves coming down with seasonal colds or a flu as a result of the change in weather. It’s also the season that the wild mushrooms first start to appear, which is perfect timing. Why?
Mushrooms are well-known for their immune modulating (balancing) and anti-inflammatory properties. Many, including the saffron milk caps, are also known for their antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Additionally, wild mushrooms tend to be higher in protein and are a wonderful source of antioxidants to boot (1–2–3).
Then there is the abundance of nutrients they contain like fibre, potassium, selenium, vitamin D as well as some B vitamins (1). So many reasons to go and join a forage so you can take home your own. If that’s really not your thing though – you can find a few at local fruit and veg stores along with your local Harris Farm when in season.
Just one final little note – Saffron milk cap mushrooms can produce slightly pink urine so don’t panic if you see that occur! It’s likely to happen a couple of hours after eating them and perhaps the next day.
Wild mushroom risottoCourse: DinnerDifficulty: Medium
A deliciously warming winter meal that incorporates a seasonal delicacy.
500g saffron milk cap mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 Tbsp* olive oil (or 2.5 Tbsp of olive oil if omitting butter)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 brown onion, diced
1.5 cups of arborio rice (this was 300g for me), rinsed really well. Much better to soak overnight and drain/rinse when ready to use if possible
100ml of dry white wine
5 cups of vegetable stock (homemade is great!)
2 cups baby spinach
60g goats cheese (optional)
Big handful of thyme, leaves only, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (be generous)
- Put the vegetable stock on the stove to start heating through. You want it hot, just simmering but not boiling.
- Melt the butter and 1 tsp of the olive oil in a frypan over medium/high heat until the butter foams (use 1.5 Tbsp of oil if not using butter).
- Add the mushrooms, season with a little salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until the colour is deep and golden. If your frypan isn’t big enough to take them all in one batch without crowding them, cook them in two lots with half the butter and oil in each. Set aside the mushrooms once cooked.
- Heat a heavy-based saucepan (I used my Le Creuset pot) over a medium heat and add the remaining oil. Once it has heated through, add the onion and garlic. Fry for 5-6 minutes or until softened and translucent.
- Add the rice and stir through for a minute or two until it is coated with the oil and becomes shiny.
- Add the wine and stir until absorbed then add a ladle of the warmed stock and stir again until fully absorbed.
- Keep adding the stock one ladle at a time and stir until each is absorbed to ensure the rice cooks through evenly.
- Once all the stock has been used and the rice is cooked, season with salt and pepper then stir through the baby spinach. Once this has wilted, stir through the thyme and cooked mushrooms to reheat then add the goats cheese if using just before serving.
- Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a green salad.
- If you have monster-sized mushrooms cut them into bite-sized slices as you chop them up.
- * I have used an Australian Tbsp, which is 20ml.
- If you soaked your rice overnight you’re likely to find that the risotto will cook much faster.
- Valverde, M, Hernández-Pérez, T and Paredes-López, O 2015, ‘Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life‘
- Onbasili, D , Yuvali Çelik, G, Katircioglu, H and, Narin, I, 2015, ‘Antimicrobial, Antioxidant Activities and Chemical Composition of Lactarius deliciosus (L.) Collected from Kastamonu Province of Turkey’
- Tungmunnithum, D, Thongboonyou, A, Pholboon, A and Yangsabai, A, 2018, ‘Flavonoids and Other Phenolic Compounds from Medicinal Plants for Pharmaceutical and Medical Aspects: An Overview’