Hedgehog mushroom, Wood hedgehog, Sweet Tooth, Pied-de-Mouton
Growing in arcs or rings in any type of woodland.
A safe, easy to identify mushroom for beginners. If it’s light brown in colour, growing on the forest floor with a stem and if it has spines instead of gills, it’s a hedgehog mushroom.
Light brown to cream in colour, the cap is uneven and convex sometimes with a depression. The flesh is thick, white and stains slightly orange with age.
A short, stout stem, roughly the same colour as the cap.
Rather than gills they have teeth or spines that are easily detached from the flesh. They are slightly decurrent and are a similar colour to the cap.
Mushroomy and a little dry smelling.
An excellent gourmet mushroom, it’s sweet and nutty and they store well in the fridge for up to three weeks. The firm flesh makes them a good meat alternative. I like them marinated in soy sauce and honey and then grilled until caramelised.
They are commonly sold across Europe normally as Pied-de-Mouton (sheep’s foot).
The hedgehog mushroom makes a fantastic meat or chicken substitute as it absorbs flavour really well and has a texture that is a little more firm than your standard mushrooms.
The younger caps are best as they can get slightly bitter-tasting with age. This can be removed if you boil them for a few minutes before frying them.
A weird thing that happens if you’re picking a lot of these is that your hands start to look like ou’ve smoked thousands of cigarettes, they start to dye the tips of your fingers slightly dirty orange.
They are generally free from maggots but are apparently loved but red squirrels.
Studies conducted after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster showed that the fruit bodies have a high rate of accumulation of the radioactive isotope caesium but this should not be a concern for most people.
The Terracotta Hedgehog, (Hydnum Rufescens) is a darker member of the same family and it’s also edible.
Growing on the forest floor with spines there is very little it can be mistaken for.