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St Georges Day Mushrooms

Calocybe gambosa

I’ve been foraging for herbs, plants, and berries for over 15 years but only recently decided it was time for me to expand my knowledge into the field of fungi. There’s good reason I waited so long to do so and that was fear, though really all I needed was respect. Mushrooms get a bad rep, eat the wrong one and that’s you done, but then the same could be said for many plants and I identify those well enough so what was I really scared about?

As I write a foraging article, I include any lookalikes that could be mistaken for the friendly subject but often as I type I’m left thinking how could anyone really mistake this plant for that one? They’re completely different! It’s the same way that individual people look different yet share many of the same human characteristics, we can identify our friends even from a distance, with their back turned and even wearing different clothes!

I like to take a new friendship with a plant (and now fungi) slowly, get to know each other before rushing in to anything we regret. So for the past year or so I’ve been in a stage of getting to know the fungi around me, good and bad, purely for the sake of getting to know each other. I’ve been pouring over books and guides, web articles and forums, attending courses and taking photos (and repeating the process!). There’s still a part of me that’s holding on to a little fear, that wonders if I know enough, but then it’s wise to still hold onto some caution – that being said I survived my first taste of a mushroom I foraged 100% myself and it feels great! Empowered might be the right word.


Of course there are many mushrooms that I certainly don’t know well enough to tell apart from their risky cousins, but there are others that are so easy I can happily invite home for dinner – one of those is the St Georges Day mushroom.

I didn’t have to go far for these beauties, I identified them last year on St Georges Day growing in the grass at ‘base camp’ and like every thing else I find growing saved that to my mental ‘food map’ to return to next time.

 The fairy ring on St Georges DayThe fairy ring on St Georges Day



St Georges Day mushrooms grow in a ring, and there are many ring forming mushrooms that can do you harm but for the timing of these friendly fellows. The position of the ring is obvious all year round as a darker green to the surrounding grass which has served to regularly remind me where to check when the time came.

As the name suggests they pop up in the weeks surrounding St Georges Day (23rd April), if not to the day! The caps are white to light tan in colour and can be as small as 5cm all the way up to 15cm in diameter, beginning more domed and flattening out as they age. Crowding and restriction can cause them to bend and curve around the pressure resulting in some odd shapes. 

Yes I really should have cut them neatly with a knife but I was too excited to wait any longer!Yes I really should have cut them neatly with a knife but I was too excited to wait any longer!They seem to like short grass, somewhere that gets mowed occasionally and the particular field ours are found in is occasionally grazed. Saying that, the grass is getting so long here at ‘base camp’ that I could hardly see them until I was on top of them so they’re not all that fussy.

They have a  mealy 'food' smell, like slightly sweet flour alongside the expected mushroom background. 

The stem is thick, slightly wider at the base, and has no ring. The gills are white, sinuate, fine and crowded (many and tightly packed together). 

There is NO colourful bruising present with the St Georges Day Mushroom when cut or handled. 


Dangerous Lookalike (that don’t really look alike in my opinion, but be aware all the same!):

Deadly Fibrecap Inocybe erubescens which bruises red. 


Warning! Don’t pick a mushroom unless ALL of the identifying markers are present, better hungry than dead…

Old examples are likely to be already inhabited by worms and grubs which will burrow channels throughout the firm flesh, whilst a little extra protein is arguably useful consume at your own risk! 

 St Georges Day mushrooms frying at the beginning of a chicken stewSt Georges Day mushrooms frying at the beginning of a chicken stew

What to do with them:

I finely sliced one of the medium sized mushrooms along with some leeks and other spring veg to add to a lovely light mid-week chicken stew. They have a nice mild flavour so was not too overpowering to the other ingredients.

Next I chopped some nice and chunky and popped them into our regular marinara sauce which is an incredible base for a rich spaghetti bolognaise! Ryan went back for seconds!


Since these are only available for a short season (and there’s only so many we can eat in one week!) I decided to make quick work of them and kept it simple; cooking them slowly in seasoned butter with a little thyme and parsley so they could be frozen and enjoyed another time. Freezing cooked mushrooms means I can include some at a moments notice (they defrost in minutes in a warm pan) with a piece of steak or a fried breakfast without too much extra effort. Work smarter not harder… ;)


If you like simpler pasta dishes you can include some garlic with the slow cook technique and simply toss the cooked pasta through the oily flavoursome mushrooms – this is the best way to really showcase their natural flavours.


If you haven’t already begun, I hope I’ve inspired you to branch out into the fabulous world of foraged fungi! Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you...


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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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