By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Apr 25 2016 10:33AM
We'll take the usual apology for not posting for an AGE as read shall we? (Sorry).
This weekend saw a frenzy of Englishness. With the anniversary of Shakespeare's death, almost certainly his birth (but noone is 100% sure about that*), the Queen's Birthday, and the "official" start of the asparagus season all converging on one glorious weekend, topped off with the big seasonal cherry that is St George's Day.
As well as start of the asaparguas season, St. George’s is an important date in the seasonal family's diary because it marks the start of St George's Mushroom season.
An exception to "rule" that mushrooms are autumnal, you'll find the small (usually about 10cm in height) creamy-white St George's mushroom growing in rings, mainly in grass fields and on verges, particularly on limestone soils. Naturally, they get their name from the fact that they first appear in the UK in mid to late April.
St George's are a real forager's favourite. Their flesh is firm with a distinct smell, unlike other mushrooms, and they taste terrific.
Also this month, keep an eye out for morels. They are a strange looking mushroom, quite different to most of the edible species. They look a bit like a sponge on a stick. As they can't be cultivated (at least, all efforts to date have failed) they are a wild and rare treat. You'll find them in sandy soils in woodland, under trees and hedgerows. Morels often grow where the land has been burned. (In fact, in the in the eighteenth century a notorious spate of forest fires in Germany was caused by mushroom-mad locals trying to create perfect morel growing conditions.)
The fact that they are tasty and grow in the wild means, naturally, that other things like eating morels and you need to give them a good shake before cooking if you want to avoid any unwanted extra protein in your meal! More importantly, you also need to be 100% sure that what you have picked is a morel. Unfortunately there is a species known as the False Morel which looks very similar but is very poisonous.
Both morels and St. George's tend to appear in the same place each year so, once you find them, check back regularly every year at around this time.
*Shakespeare's christening is recorded as taking place on 26th April. Because it was common for children to be christened three days after birth, it is traditionally thought that he was born on the same date that he died - the 23rd - which would have been suitably...poetic. But we'll never know for sure.