Hypomyces lactifluorum (Lobster mushrooms) | Mushroom store | Biobritte mushroom store

Hypomyces lactifluorum (Lobster mushrooms) |  Mushroom store | Biobritte mushroom store

Hypomyces lactifluorum (Lobster mushrooms)

Lobster mushrooms are gnarled, contorted fungi, averaging 15-20 centimeters in diameter, and have an irregular shape with little to no stem and a cracked cap. 

The surface of the cap is textured, firm, and mottled, ranging in color from white to a vibrant orange-red, with split, wavy edges. 

Underneath the cap, the gills of the host mushroom almost disappear under the parasitic fungus, leaving the area somewhat rippled and disfigured. 

When sliced, the flesh is white, dense, and spongy with a faint, seafood-like aroma. 

Lobster mushrooms have a chewy texture with a subtly nutty, woody, and delicate flavor.

Hypomyces lactifluorum ( lobster mushrooms)

Lobster mushrooms are generally available in the fall through early winter. In specific regions of North America, they can also be found as early as mid-summer.

Lobster mushrooms, botanically classified as Hypomyces lactifluorum, are fungi that have been compositionally altered by a parasitic mold. 

Research shows that the mold prefers the brittle white mushroom, Russula brevipes, and the peppery milkcap mushroom, Lactarius piperatus, as its host. 

The parasitic fungus propagates on the host, altering the mushroom’s chemical composition, and covers the surface in bright orange coating while twisting the cap into odd shapes. 

This contortion is noted in the Lobster mushroom’s scientific name, hypomyces, which is a Greek word meaning “mushroom underneath” as a nod to the process by which the Lobster mushroom is formed. 

Throughout this symbiotic process, the host mushroom, initially considered flavorless, improves in taste and texture when transformed, creating a desirable, rare fungus. 

Lobster mushrooms are not commercially grown and are foraged from the wild, favored for their dense consistency, mild flavor, and unique coloring.

Nutritional value

  • Lobster mushrooms contain some fiber, which stimulates digestion, and copper, a nutrient that helps in the production of red blood cells and iron absorption. 
  • The mushrooms also provide lower amounts of vitamins B, D, and K to assist in maintaining overall health.

Uses of Lobster mushrooms

Lobster mushrooms must be cooked and are best suited for sautéing, braising, and baking. To clean, the fungi should be dry brushed to prevent the bright coloring from being removed. 

The mushrooms retain their firm texture after cooking and can be added to pasta dishes, mixed into chowders and soups, cooked in cream-based sauces, or added to stews and terrines. 

They can also be incorporated into risotto, seafood, omelets, and stir-fries. It is important to note that the red-orange coloring will bleed when heated, creating a rich hue, especially in rice-based dishes. 

In addition to cooked preparations, Lobster mushrooms can be dried for extended use, which intensifies their flavor. 

Lobster mushrooms pair well with onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, orzo, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, lemon, and cannellini beans. 

Once picked, the mushrooms should be used immediately for the best quality and flavor but can also be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator for 3-7 days. 

Once cooked, it is imperative that the mushrooms be consumed within two days to avoid spoiling and food poisoning.

Lobster mushrooms are used as a natural dye, capable of producing shades ranging from a pale orange to pink, and saffron, and can also create darker shades of purple or red depending on the additional ingredients added. 

Lobster mushrooms are found wherever russula and lactarius mushrooms are grown, typically in temperate forests across the northern United States from the Pacific Northwest to New England and throughout Canada.

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