Saffron Milk Caps – something to savour after a summer deluge


Saffron Milk Caps in the Icy Creek forest
Saffron Milk Caps in the Icy Creek forest,

You normally find them around Easter. Warm weather, a spell of rain, then another warm day or two will get these spores shooting up threw the soft undergrowth of pine trees, especially around abandoned trails. But a cooler and moister start to summer has summoned these fungi through the forest floor.  Officially called Lactarius deliciosus, they are better known in Australia as saffron milk caps (see this  piece by chef Steve Manfredi). I first became aware of them when I’d see them on sale in Sydney and Melbourne greengrocers for around $30 a kilo. Which isn’t surprising; they’re plentiful under very specific conditions but they can’t be farmed. Yes, you could get them mixed up with more toxic temptations, so make sure you know how to tell the difference. And opinions differ about what they can do to you, the prevailing wisdom being they’re less likely to upset sensitive stomachs if properly cooked (sounds sensible if you’re inclined to the conservative when it comes to the culinary). For me, they’re best poached in butter and sage, and perhaps the only reason to make an omlette. Not bad with pasta either.

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