The hedgehog mushrooms are another class of edible mushrooms you can enjoy by foraging the forests where they typically grow. Its unique appearance earned its name, and this mushroom is also called sweet tooth, wood hedgehog, or pier de mouton. A good alternative for the chanterelles, hedgehog mushrooms, may satisfy one's palette because of their meaty, savory taste.
If you are interested to know more about these foraged mushrooms, this post will provide you with important information.
So without further ado, let's discover hedgehog mushrooms...
What is a Hedgehog Mushroom?
Hedgehog mushrooms are unusual-looking fungi in the Hydenaceae family. The Hydnum genus contains multiple species of hedgehog mushrooms (the precise number is unclear).
Hedgehog mushroom (Hydnum repandum) is a prevalent edible fungus in a tiny family. Sweet Tooth is another name for hedgehog mushroom, which has tooth-like spines instead of gills or tubes. The mushroom is usually medium-sized but may be enormous, and the cap can be yellow, orange, or brown.
The North American species can be divided among the East and West Coasts.
Hedgehog mushrooms found on the West Coast include:
- H. washingtonianum
- H. neorepandum
- H. olympicum
The East Coast species would be the following:
- H. umbilicatum
- H. albomagnum
- H. aerostatisporum
The two most common hedgehog species in Europe are:
- H. repandum
- H. rufescens
Are Hedgehog Mushrooms Mycorrhizal?
This species is mycorrhizal, meaning it lives mostly as a network of cells (mycelium) attached to tree roots in a symbiotic connection with the tree. (Many trees suffer without their fungal companions.)
Hedgehog mushrooms' subterranean mycelium attaches to tree roots, assisting the tree in absorbing nutrients and water. In return, the tree feeds the hedgehog mushrooms with carbohydrates or simple sugars from photosynthesis.
When the mycelium is ready to reproduce, it sends up the mushroom aboveground—this is the reproductive structure. Spores are formed in these structures and dispersed into the environment to start new mycelia.
A single fungus may attach itself to the roots of many trees, even those of different species. A mushroom's mycelium may survive for decades.
The fact that hedgehog mushrooms are mycorrhizal suggests they cannot be grown in one's home. The reason is that these mushrooms require symbiotic relationships with trees to grow.
Where Do Hedgehog Mushrooms Grow?
In most types of mixed forests, hedgehog mushrooms grow in rings or arcs around host trees.
They appear alone or in small groups beneath conifers and hardwoods such as spruce, birch, beech, and oak.
Hedgehog mushrooms may be found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Northern Asia, Europe, and North America.
If you've located a decent patch of hedgehog mushrooms, you'll have a continuous supply because they grow in the same spot year after year.
Between September and December, hedgehog mushrooms may be found nestled in grass and moss beneath spruce, pine, birch, and beech trees, where they can resemble puddles of spilled cream in the arboreal dusk.
Of course, lots of species have light crowns, but a quick look on the underside for pale cream to salmon pink spines will confirm your catch.
How Do You Identify Hedgehog Mushrooms?
Now that you know where hedgehog mushrooms grow and when they appear, it's time to learn how to recognize them in the wild. The nice thing about hedgehog mushrooms is their individuality, making them easy for rookie foragers to recognize.
There are no dangerous hedgehog mushroom look-alikes, which is also advantageous for novices. Here's how to tell if a mushroom is a hedgehog or a sweet tooth (Hydnum repandum):
The cap is soft creamy yellow to salmon pink in color and ranges in size from 1.5 to 8 inches (4 to 20 cm) wide, with an irregular amoeba-like structure.
When the mushroom is young, it is convex but becomes flat with a wavy edge as it grows older. The surface is frequently uneven and may be somewhat hollow in the center.
The hedgehog mushroom's stem is 1.2 - 2.4 inches (3-6cm) in length and 0.8 - 1.2 inches (1-3cm) in thickness, with an uneven stumpy form that is occasionally expanded at the base.
It has no partial veil or ring and is smooth and creamy white or the same color as the cap. Occasionally fastened to the cap in the center, but more often than not, somewhat off-center.
Soft spines or teeth cover the underside of the cap and extend a short way down the stem. They are creamy-white to soft salmon pink in color, spherical in cross-section, 0.8 - 2.4 inches (2 - 6mm) long, and one of the hedgehog mushroom's most identifying traits.
If you run your finger over the spines, they will break off and fall off the cap.
What are the Different Types of Hedgehog Mushrooms?
Apart from the hedgehog or sweet tooth mushroom (Hydnum repandum), other hedgehog mushrooms are distributed and are safe to eat. Below are some of the more well-known and popular variations:
The Giant Hedgehog
This hedgehog mushroom is endemic to North and Central America and is more extensive and paler than the other species.
The Terracotta Hedgehog
This mushroom may be found in any wood. The popular name Terracotta Hedgehog adequately describes its cap color.
Soft spines dangle like stalactites from the fertile surface under the cap. Unlike its near cousin, the pink spines of this species are adnexed or almost free of the stem rather than decurrent to it. The spines are 2 to 4mm long when wholly formed.
The Bellybutton Hedgehog
This type of hedgehog mushroom may be found in bogs and marshes across North America and Europe. It resembles the sweet tooth but is smaller and deeper in color. Also, the cap of this mushroom is more uniform in shape and sunken in the center, giving it its name.
The White Hedgehog
The last species of hedgehog mushroom is indigenous to North America. It has a more petite fruit body than the sweet tooth and a white to pale grey fruit body that bruises yellow to orange. The white spines do not run down the stem on the underside.
How Do You Harvest for Hedgehog Mushrooms?
Either carefully remove the mushroom from the ground or cut it at the base with a knife. There is great debate over picking etiquette - whether to select or cut. A long-term (30+ years) research involving 500 mushroom species in Switzerland found that the harvesting method did not affect production the following year. Therefore, go ahead and use your chosen approach.
Never remove a full patch; keeping some to disperse spores the next year is a good practice. It is critical for the survival and renewal of mushroom patches.
Hedgehogs prefer gentle handling. Picked hedgehogs should be kept from other mushrooms in a basket with rigid edges. Hedgehogs, however, are incredibly fragile and can shatter into a hundred pieces if jostled around too much. Put them in a separate bag from larger or heavier mushrooms.
How Do You Clean Hedgehog Mushrooms?
Hedgehog mushrooms are slightly more challenging to clean than others because dirt and grit can become trapped between the teeth on the bottom of their cap. Because hedgehog mushrooms are undesirable to bugs and worms, you typically need to clear dust and a minute amount of debris.
In cleaning your hedgehog harvests, hold the mushrooms by the stem and lightly tap the top of the cap to remove debris between the teeth. Bigger particles are more likely to fall out. You may also use a mushroom or pastry brush to brush the debris from your teeth gently.
If they're still dirty, a brief rinse in cool water should do the work, although this is rarely necessary. They will get soggy if you keep the mushrooms in water for too long.
Some individuals prefer to scrape the teeth off adult hedgehog mushrooms, particularly if they were taken just after a downpour and have a lot of dirt caught in the teeth. To do so, gently press your thumb on the teeth and wipe or massage them clean.
What Are the Look-A-Likes of Hedgehog Mushrooms?
As you forage for hedgehog mushrooms, chances are you'll encounter their fungal look-alikes. Here are a couple of mushrooms that are commonly mistaken for hedgehog mushrooms.
Scaly hedgehog mushrooms may grow quite huge, with caps measuring up to 12 inches (30cm) in diameter. They have delicate pale grey teeth 0.2 - 0.6 inches (0.5 - 1.5 cm) in length on the underside of the light brown to grey cap.
From August through October, the scaly hedgehog may be seen in Europe and North America, growing in rings under fir trees. While these mimics have spines on the bottom, they do not have the same smooth, pale milky white to salmon-pink caps as hedgehog mushrooms. As a result, distinguishing them is relatively easy.
This mushroom is an inedible but non-poisonous doppelganger of the hedgehog species. It lives under conifers and resembles the sweet tooth but has a fawn-colored crown and teeth.
The crown has a velvety feel rather than smooth, generally covered in pine needles and organic detritus.
This species, like hedgehogs, has teeth or spines instead of gills. Its flesh, on the other hand, is corky or leathery, exceedingly rugged, and they have a centrally connected stem. There are 51 species in the world, but all you have to do is touch the flesh to know you don't want to eat it unless you enjoy eating leather. Several of them are pretty dark, either brown or black.
This fungus is a recently discovered polypore that may be found in North America, Central America, and Europe. On the undersides, it may have small spines or smooth tubular pores. The spined specimens resemble hedgehogs. Yet it's not difficult to figure out what you've discovered. Polypores are found on trees, and this one may be found on dead hardwoods and conifers. Hedgehogs do not live on trees.
How Do You Cook Hedgehog Mushrooms?
Hedgehog mushrooms are among the most excellent edible mushrooms that each forager should be familiar with. They are related to golden chanterelles, also known as the sweet tooth and pied de mouton in French.
These mushrooms have a softer flavor than black trumpet mushrooms but a much stronger flavor than farmed chestnut mushrooms (cremini mushrooms).
Many people notice these mushrooms have a delicate, nutty flavor with a beautiful sweetness that pairs nicely with garlic butter. You may also detect aromas reminiscent of spicy watercress or oysters.
Because the texture and flavor are identical to chanterelles, these mushrooms can be used in any recipe that calls for them (although not the same). These are several recipes for hedgehog mushrooms.
- Hedgehog mushrooms may be combined with buttery pasta.
- Mixed with a chicken pot pie
- Use as a stuffing for beef Wellington
- Served alongside your buttered seafood, such as lobster
Here is a simple recipe for you that you can use to enjoy the taste of hedgehog mushrooms:
Sauteed Hedgehog Mushrooms
Prepare the ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- One tablespoon garlic clove (you may cut it if you want)
- 1 pound of hedgehog mushrooms
- One tablespoon of olive oil
Clean and trim the mushrooms. Remove and discard any burnt, dry, or damaged parts. Brush off any dirt with a paper towel, or if the mushrooms are highly unclean, give them a short washing under cold water and pat them dry well on paper towels. Smaller mushrooms can be cooked whole, while bigger ones can be halved, quartered, diced, or sliced.
For this step, you may heat a big frying pan on high. Place the butter and oil once the pan is heated. After the butter has melted, add the cleaned and trimmed mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. If the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft and beginning to brown, you may stop stirring.
If you're going to add garlic, do it now. Simmer, constantly stirring, until the garlic becomes aromatic and the mushrooms brown. This should just take 1 to 2 minutes. Fresh rosemary goes after the garlic. Stir for approximately 15 seconds to blend it with the mushrooms.
Take the mushrooms from the fire and season them with salt based on your taste. Note that unsalted mushrooms will not have the same flavor, so be liberal with the salt.
More Tips for You
Now, before you get too excited about cooking your hedgehog mushrooms, here are some valuable tips I still want to share with you:
- To keep the needles from spoiling your sauce, clean the teeth under the hedgehog caps before cooking. If you need more time, you can skip this step.
- Use heat in the pan to avoid soggy mushrooms and get a golden color.
- The mushrooms will only sear appropriately if they are completely dry before cooking.
- To eliminate any bitter, raw flavor, thoroughly cook these mushrooms.