The Velvet Shank aka Flammulina Velutipes

Hi to everyone again,

I am so lucky to have had a very busy Christmas with lots of sales but then health issues hit the family and so 2021 seems to be no different than 2020.

Fortunately, I have been able to get out and about looking for mushrooms. Not many about this time of year but if you look closely and carefully, you will see some in the lawn and on dead wood.

I have been looking for Flammulina Velutipes aka The Velvet Shank aka Enokitake in the woods behind the house. They appear to like the cold and appear in December to January in Ireland. Last year, they were very plentiful, mostly on dead gorse but they haven’t reappeared this year. They make really clear and distinct spore prints so I was disappointed to say the least.

The Velvet Shank is a lovely caramel, orangey lemon colour, smells faintly mealy and grows on dead wood so I usually find it dark corners of the garden or in old, untended areas of native woodland.  It grows in closely knit tiers out from the host and, as it matures, the stem/shank gets darker and more velvety hence its name. In wet weather, the cap is sticky and some say slimy and is usually about 3 cm wide but can grow to 7cm.

 It is genetically the same as the Japanese Enokitake mushroom which is a relative of the Shitake and much loved in Japanese cuisine. It has proven anti-cancer and anti-viral uses and is used readily in Japan.

I found two logs covered in them in a different part of the woods this afternoon and I was so happy.  

It is a wonderful edible once prepared and cooked. I really like adding it to a slow cooked game stew or sautéing the young caps in butter and adding them to Mushroom Risotto.

If you think you have found some Velvet Shanks, check to see of there is any form of a ring on the stem, do a spore print – if there is a ring and the print is not white then it’s not a Velvet Shank.

Please do not attempt to eat any mushrooms unless you are 100% confident in your identification. All mushrooms have nasty lookalikes, some of which can be deadly.

Thanks for reading my blog and please let me know if you have any questions or comments!


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