Hedgehogs are a great all around mushroom. They’re cousins of chanterelles, and to me are a little under appreciated. They seem to get overshadowed by the more widely available golden chanterelles, since they fruit at around the same time. They’re really great though, even easier than chanterelles to identify and a breeze to cook.
The biggest difference between these and golden chanterelles is that underneath the cap, these have teeth, from Latin “dentium” (think teeth) sometimes used to describe them.
Where I hunt in Midwest, these love to fruit around white oak trees starting around July , as well as in the pine forests of the north. I don’t really get up and say “today I’m going to hunt hedgehogs!”, it’s more likely that I’m going to see them in places where I hunt golden chanterelles. In other areas of the country they will fruit heavily though, large amounts are available for purchase through wholesalers throughout the Pacific Northwest mushroom season.
Culinary wise, hedgehogs are similar to golden chanterelles. The flavor of hedgehogs compared to chanterelles is different though. Where golden chanterelles have a flowery-apricot scent, hedgehogs have a meaty, more traditional mushroom flavor. But It’s a subtle difference, and for most any preparation you would use a chanterelle you could use a hedgehog.
One of my favorite ways to cook them is simply, fried in butter, but they pair wonderfully with cream like most mushrooms. Just like golden chanterelles, if I can, I like to cook hedgehogs whole when they aren’t too large, since part of what makes them great is their shape.
Hedgehogs are brittle
The big difference between hedgehogs and chanterelles, besides hedgehogs having a more savory flavor, is in their texture. Hedgehogs are brittle mushrooms, and jostled around in a basket they can easily crumble away to nothing.
Fantastic in soup
Once hedgehogs are cooked, they won’t be brittle anymore, as cooking relaxes and softens the mushrooms. Just like golden chanterelles, small hedgehogs dropped into soup make a great addition, especially to brothy soups like the one below.
To preserve these, I like to pickle them. See a recipe for hedgehog mushroom conserve here, one of my favorite ways to preserve them. Drying them could be done if you want to turn them into powder, but I don’t suggest drying them since, like golden chanterelles their flavor changes and texture suffers after rehydrating they’re just not the same mushroom they were before in my opinion.
As far as I know, there are two basic species of hedgehogs, although I suspect there are other species hiding within these two families. The hedgehogs I see coming out of the Pacific Northwest are Hydum umbillicatum, which has a belly button indent to the cap. I’ve also noticed that the Pacific Northwest Hydnum umbillicatum also usually have a hollow stem, and tend to be a more orange-brown, (pictured below).
Giant Hedghogs: Spreaders
There are also giant hedgehogs I see on occasion shipping from the Pacific Northwest, sometimes known as “spreaders” and white or albino hedgehogs as well, just like the chanterelles there’s a number of different species. I prefer Hydnum repandum for it’s firm texture, but all hedgehogs I’ve had have been good. See more on spreaders here.
The only real tricky thing about hedgehogs can be cleaning them. Their little teeth are pretty cool looking, but if you are picking after a recent rain, you may need to scrape off the teeth and dirt as well from the underside of their caps to make it so you don’t chew any gravel.
If your hedgehogs are reasonably clean, simply brush any visible grit, or give them a quick dip in a sink full of cool water, just make sure to do one at a time so they don’t absorb too much and become waterlogged, then leave them to dry on a paper towel until ready to cook.
If your hedgehogs are clean, all they should really need is a quick one-two with a mushroom or pastry brush to clean the teeth, it works like a charm.
Recipes I’ve developed specifically for hedgehogs, or where they can be substituted. Golden chanterelles and hedgehogs are similar and comparable in size so I often describe them as interchangeable, most of the time you should be able to substitute one for another.
- Wild Mushroom Conserve
- Meatloaf Steaks with hedgehogs
- Grilled Giant Hedgehog Mushrooms
- Wild Mushroom Duxelles
- Chanterelle Torte
- Mangalitsa Pork Chops With Chanterelle-Skyr Sauce
- Black Trumpet Bouchées With Chanterelle Mousse
- Chanterelle Custard, Hedgehog Mushrooms And Chives
- “Last Chance” Cream of Chanterelle Soup
- Whole Chanterelles Roasted With Thyme
- Wild Mushrooms With Garlic And Parsley
- Classic Chanterelle Omelet