The weirdest mushroom in BC? Edible Lobster Mushrooms!

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Lobster mushrooms in BC are one of my favourite edibles.  They do taste mildly like seafood and have a great, firm texture.  They also colour your dishes red; remember you eat with your eyes first!

lobster mushroom

Image by Paul Noll

The cool thing about Lobsters (Hypomyces lactifluorum) are that they parasitize russula family mushrooms (with gills) and actually transform them into lobster mushrooms (without gills).   They’re really easy to identify for beginner mushroomers.

Where do I look?

  • Anywhere there are russula’s around, especially russula brevipes (short stemmed, white russula).  In other words, coniferous forests, growing on the ground.

When do I look?

  • Aug-late Oct in BC

Key Features?

  • No gills – firm pores instead
  • Bright Red/Orange
  • No distinct stem or cap, blobby shaped
  • Old ones smell like seafood (young ones are more mild)

Know these look alikes first…

  • There are other Hypomyces out there that don’t look anything like a lobster mushroom
  • If you ever find a yellow/green lobster mushroom… don’t eat it –Hypomyces luteovirens

How to cook them?

  • Pick them when they are firm and fresh.  If they smell too fishy they’re no good.
  • Slice them up and fry them with butter and thyme… stuff some ravioli with them and serve with a white wine cream sauce… YUM!
  • Apparently, they don’t freeze well (I haven’t tried)

Factoid

  • One  friend of mine had stomach cramps from eating a lobster mushroom.   Probably allergy related as these are commercially available (wild ones).  It’s a good idea to do a cook test with a small piece of any wild mushroom that you are 100% sure is edible.  Eat it, wait a few days and then make sure you don’t get stomach upsets.

Please use caution when hunting for edible mushrooms.  This is just a rough guide which is no substitute for going out with an experienced wildcrafter.  Most mushrooms aren’t deadly poisonous, but it’s no fun getting sick and not worth the risk!  Come with us on a mushroom tour to start you off on the right foot.  

David Arora’s – “All that the rain promises and more” is a great handbook to give you more information on specific Pacific Northwest mushrooms.

7 Responses

  1. Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC
    Wild Mushroom Foraging in BC October 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm |

    […] Lobster Mushrooms – Hypomyces Lactifluorum […]

  2. Brady
    Brady July 20, 2016 at 3:40 am | | Reply

    I’m from Vancouver island and my gf just picked one! That’s the first one I’ve ever seen in July, usually September. I think the freak rain storms are paying off.

  3. Warr
    Warr October 9, 2016 at 9:14 pm | | Reply

    hey kinda of a stupid question, i know it is edible once the orange parasite takes over the mushroom, but is it okay to eat the mushroom if parts of it are still white?

  4. Lord Barham
    Lord Barham November 20, 2017 at 2:11 am | | Reply

    Hypomyces also parasitises Lactarius spp, making them edible as well. I haven’t heard of any Russulus or Lactarius being poisonous, but most of them are inedible until parasitised by Hypomyces. There’s an easy test to identify Russulas to genus level: pick one and throw it against a tree trunk or other hard object. It will shatter. Lactarius and Russula are closely related genera, and some species formerly classified into one genus, and since been reclassified into the other, and vice versa. (Thanks to genetic analyses, Fungi, like Plantae, are undergoing major taxonomic revisions – in some cases, right up to the level of order.)

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