Facts About the Indigo Milk Cap - Foraged

Facts About the Indigo Milk Cap

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Indigo milk cap mushrooms are a rarity in nature, a truly blue food that you can actually eat. In this article, we’ll be going over what Indigo milk cap mushrooms look like, where you can find them, what they taste like, and where to find them.

What are Indigo Milk Cap mushrooms?

The Indigo milk cap, or Lactarius indigo, is a member of the larger milk cap mushroom family with one standout characteristic, their bright blue coloring. 

Often found after significant rainfall in pine forests, this mushroom can be identified by a number of distinctive features.

  • The concave cap features distinctive concentric blue rings. 
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  • When the mushroom is young, the cap is almost circular, becoming more irregular as it ages.
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  • The gills on the underside of the Indigo milk cap stop at the stem and will turn dark when touched.
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  • The interior of the mushroom will weep a blue ‘milk’, hence the name, when damaged. Be careful, the milk will stain clothes and skin.

Can you eat indigo milk caps?

Yes! Despite its unusual appearance, the indigo milk cap is entirely edible and makes an excellent addition to a variety of dishes. It’s also delightful when cooked and eaten on its own. One of the issues commonly encountered with indigo milk caps is retaining the color. 

Obviously, most people would like to get the bright blue as part of their dish, but that can be a little tricky. When indigo milk caps are exposed to direct heat or cooked in oil or butter, they lose a lot of their vibrancy. One of the best ways to cook them and still keep the blue is to bread and fry them. The breading protects the mushroom from the direct heat and prevents the cooking oil from leeching away the color.

We’ve added a delicious breaded Indigo milk cap recipe for you to try at the end of this article.

What do indigo milk caps taste like?

Interestingly, indigo milk caps are renowned for having a variable flavor that tends to depend on where you picked them from. Different habitats can result in surprisingly wide variations in flavor. 

The most common flavor for indigo milk caps, however, is similar to a portobello, a mild earthy umami flavor.

Where can I find Lactarius Indigo in the wild?

Indigo milk caps tend to appear in mid to late august in coniferous forests, often after heavy rainfall.  If you don’t happen to have a coniferous forest nearby or live in an arid area, you can always source your Indigo milk caps from Foraged.

Foraged connects mushroom lovers with small growers and foragers all over the country, so you can have full access to delicious organically grown and locally sourced mushrooms that just don’t grow in your area, including the Indigo milk cap.

Image Courtesy of Tyrant Farms

Breaded and fried Indigo milk caps

Courtesy of Tyrant Farms, this recipe for crispy fried Indigo milk caps is an excellent alternative to chicken fingers on game night, makes a great starter, and retains a lot of the mushroom’s characteristic blue coloring.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour organic all-purpose for frying mix and 1/2 cup for dredging
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika + 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of chili powder
  • dash of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/3 cup milk 
  • Sunflower oil or other neutral frying oil 
  • 5 big Lactarius Indigo mushroom caps

Instructions

  • Depending on the size of your mushrooms, slice them in either halves or quarters. 
  • Put 1/2 cup of flour in a medium-sized bowl for dredging.
  • Add your egg and milk into another mixing bowl, and whisk together. 
  • Prepare your frying mix by putting all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisking them together until evenly blended. 
  • Dip your mushrooms first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the frying mix, making sure to shake off any extra fry mix.
  • Heat your cooking oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Before you start frying, place a few layers of kitchen towel on top of a drying rack to soak up any extra oil.
  • Fry your mushrooms until golden-brown and crispy on the outside. If the oil is at the right temperature, this should only take about 4-5 minutes.
  • Cook your mushrooms in batches to avoid crowding the pan and dropping the oil temperature. 
  • Place the cooked mushrooms on the paper towel to soak up any excess frying oil.
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