Edible Mushrooms in Australia

Saffron cap mushroom

Little is known in Australia about wild mushrooms. Recently there were two deaths in Canberra when a new years eve feast went horribly wrong and a Chinese restaurant served up death caps. Get to know your mushrooms, and for safety’s sake, never eat mushrooms with white gills till you know what you are doing.

Saffron Caps, aka Lactarius deliciosus and Slippery Jacks (Suillus luteus) are the most common edible mushrooms, found in autumn under established pine trees. They are easily recognized, but perish quickly. When harvesting, don’t touch the underneath gills, slice off at the ground with a sharp knife and lay them in a single layer upside down in an apple box or flat bottomed basket. I find they seem to keep well in a Tupperware container or zip lock bag in the fridge with plenty of room. It just helps keep the moisture in them, but check them from time to time for condensation and wipe over or lay some paper on the bottom.

Slippery Jack mushrooms

There seems to be two kinds of Saffron Caps, little ones, less than 3 inches diameter with a flatter top, and big ones that can be almost as large as a dinner plate with a more frilly appearance. I like the small ones.

Slippery Jacks should have a bright yellow unblemished sponge underneath. With age they start to brown off. If you can’t be choosy they will still be OK, but if there are plenty about, choose the younger, fresher mushrooms that are yellow underneath.

The upper skin of Slippery Jacks peels off easily, and as there are often bits of pine and such stuck onto their moist tops, I like to peel this off before I eat them. They are beautiful and colorful when cut.

They can be found from late summer through autumn, generally in colder moist climates like the blue mountains.

Many of the mushrooms we know are good to eat have been brought here in various ways from Europe, so while there is little info on the web about Australian mushrooms in particular, I’ve found a few sites that you might find helpful.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has some good info and recipes

Roger’s Mushrooms is a very comprehensive site for Northern hemisphere mushrooms. This link takes you to a summary page of different mushroom genera, but there is plenty of info to dig down deeper, plus recipes and info on poisonous varieties.

Happy hunting!


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