Hedgehog fungi are one of the easiest to identify. If it has a central stem, a pale off-white cap and the underneath is covered in bristly teeth, then you may have found a Hedgehog Fungus, Hydnum repandum. In France it has the charming name Pied de Mouton, Sheep’s Foot.
There’s a waterfall of them along this woodland bank.
They must be part of a faerie ring.
I first read about them in Jane Grigson’s The Mushroom Feast which I bought as a child. I spent many long hot baths on a Sunday night fantasising about French provincial food. As you do. Or maybe it was just me?
It was there I read their other names and the best way of cooking them:
They are delicious, and, as the ever-reliable Jane Grigson said, good for a fricassee.
Here are the ‘teeth’ on the underside.
I can see why they would be called Rubber Brush fungus.
There are also Terracotta Hedgehogs, Hydnum rufescens, here.
They are thinner-fleshed and smaller.
They have the same ‘teeth’ underneath.
I harvest a few Hedgehogs with some Ceps and Chanterelles and take them home. Tonight it’s Rubber Brush risotto.
It tastes far, far better than it sounds.
Never rely on the Internet for information on the edibility of fungi – not even this blog. You may be in a different country, have different species and have partial information.
Join a group, meet with experts, get a decent guide book.
Even saying try a small amount first is a dangerous thing to do – a single cubic centimetre of a poisonous fungus could be enough to give you multiple organ failure.
Here’s my review of the Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools, an excellent, small, reasonably comprehensive photographic guide:
And if you’re really, really interested in the thousands of species, here’s Fungi of Temperate Europe – Volumes 1 & 2. It’s an era-defining classic:
It’s time for a hot bath and a Jane Grigson food fantasy.