Quilted green russulas, also known as green brittle gills and Russula parvovirescens are an edible wild mushroom, and the easiest Russula to bring home for the table, at least for me.
Formerly known as Russula virescens, r. parvovirescens was identified in 2006 and declared a unique species of the Eastern United States. The two mushrooms are interchangeable for culinary purposes, but R. parvovirescens has a smaller stature than R. virescens.
In the summer months when the chanterelles, porcini, and other wild mushrooms are available, I'll occasionally see a few of these. When I find young ones, or those not damaged enough by bugs to dry, they'll go in my mushroom basket. Here's everything I know about them.
I see these mushrooms in mixed hardwood forests in the Midwest, especially those with plenty of burr and red oak mixed in. I often see them in the same habitat as lobster mushrooms, chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms and porcini. They start fruiting in the summer and I typically see the most of them in July through August.
As a general rule, Russula can be difficult to identify. These are the exception. Their green cap, covered with large crustose patches in a net-like pattern that's referred to as "quilted" are the biggest giveaways.
Occasionally I see some mushrooms with a mottled green and beige coloration you see below.
- Has a mottled green pattern on the cap, that may discolor of fade with age.
- Always has a white spore print.
- Has a brittle stem and cap that's easily chipped or broken.
Look a Likes
R. aeruginea looks similar in that it has a green cap, but the cap is pure green, with no visible quilting, or what's referred to as "large crustose patches" on the cap. If the cap of your mushroom is pure green and smooth, it's probably R. aeruginea, and it's also edible. There are no poisonous look a likes to my knowledge.
These grow singularly here and there. If I see them growing I will start to gather them, but to get a decent amount you need to be on the look out for them.
Young buttons are the best eating. but, no matter the age of your mushroom, you'll be fighting the bugs who usually get to them first. The first thing I do is pluck the mushrooms from the ground, cut off the base of the stem, and inspect it for bug holes.
If the mushrooms have bug damage but seem sturdy, I may take them home and dry them.
These are brittle, crumbly mushrooms, so it's best to put them in a basket where they won't be crushed by other, heavier fungus like lobster mushrooms you may be harvesting at the same time.
Green brittle gills have a good, mild mushroom flavor and can be used in any of your favorite wild mushroom recipes. Since their flavor is mild, I generally avoid cream sauces and lots of dairy with them, but a little bit can be ok. Since bug damage is an issue with these, they're a good candidate for mushroom duxelles.
Since these often have at least some bug damage, I typically end up drying them. Dehydrating concentrates their flavor.
Some people have compared the dried flavor and aroma to potatoes, but I think mild mushroom with an aroma of dried shrimp or fish is a better description.
These typically become duxelles, powder or broth in my kitchen as it's hard to find bug-free mushrooms. Here's a few places I'd use them or where they could be substituted.
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