The Wine Cap Mushroom
What They Look Like and Taste Like

Wine cap mushrooms look almost cartoonish, their stereotypical off-white stem and red cap littered with white dots looking like every drawing of a mushroom you’ve ever seen.  

The good news is that these mushrooms are both entirely edible and easy to find, and today, we’ll be showing you how.

How can you identify a wine cap mushroom?

Wine cap mushrooms, or Stropharia Rugosoannulata, also known as King Stropharia and Wine Cap Stropharia are medium-sized mushrooms, often around  6-13 centimeters in diameter, with long thick stems.

The common identifying characteristics of a wine cap include:

  • Wine caps have burgundy-colored bell-shaped caps when young that transition to browner and broadly convex to flat caps when mature.
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  • The gills underneath the cap are pale, but transition to a purple-gray when the mushroom’s spores start to develop.
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  • Rhizomorphs, which look like thick white strands, can often be seen emanating from the bottom of the stalk. These rhizomorphs can often be found through the areas in which wine caps are fruiting.

Where can you find wine cap mushrooms?

Wine cap mushrooms are surprisingly easy to find, even in urban areas. They appear in late spring through early fall and are often found in beds of wood chips or mulch. 

You can even cultivate your own patches of wine cap mushrooms by sprinkling wine cap mushroom spawn over a small area of mulch or wood chips.

Wine cap mushroom flavor

The flesh of the wine cap mushroom is firm and white and makes a great replacement for meat. The flavor is mild and earthy, with a distinct nuttiness and hints of potato.

How do you eat a wine cap mushroom?

Young wine cap mushrooms, with their distinctive burgundy-colored caps, can be eaten with the stem. If you have older, larger mushrooms with browner caps, it is recommended that you remove the stems as they can get rather stringy.

Wine cap mushrooms are well suited to braising, grilling, and sautéing and make an excellent base for a fantastic mushroom soup. We’ve included the recipe below!

Image Courtesy of Field Forest

Wine cap mushroom soup recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • ½  a cup of  chopped leek
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 lbs of chopped Wine Cap mushrooms
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 3 tbsp of fresh dill
  • 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of milk or coconut milk 
  • ½ cup of creme fraiche
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a stockpot.
  • Add in the garlic, onion, leek, and saute for 5-minutes until the onions are tender. 
  • Add the mushrooms, paprika, and two tablespoons of the dill and stir to combine. Bring to a slow simmer, cover with the lid, and cook for 10-minutes. 
  • Remove the lid, stir, and then let simmer uncovered for another 5-7-minutes.
  • Once simmered, stir in lemon juice. 
  • Sprinkle flour over the mixture, and simmer while stirring constantly for another 5-minutes. 
  • Add the stock, cover, and cook for 10-minutes, stirring repeatedly. 
  • Add the milk, turn heat to low, and whisk in creme fraiche a small amount at a time to avoid it splitting. 
  • Garnish with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Serve and garnish with the last of the dill.
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