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  • Santa Cruz Fungi

Candy Cap Mushroom

Common Names: Curry Milkcap, Maple Mushroom, and Caramel Cap

​TASTING NOTES

SEASON

Maple Syrup, Butterscotch, Burnt Sugar

Fall to Early Spring

SOURCE

TYPE

North American West Coast, Northern California, Bay Area, United Kingdom

Edible Mushroom - Wild + Cultivated

FRIDGE LIFE

FRUITING BODY

~3 days

Orange-brown to reddish brown convex to flat cap and gills, milky latex when damaged

POISONOUS LOOK-A-LIKES

SCIENTIFIC NAME

No poisonous, but a few look-alikes are Lactarius xanthogalactus, Lactarius fragilis and Lactarius rufulus

Lactarius rubidus, lactarius camphoratus

PERSONALITY

GLAMOUR SHOT


Candy cap mushroom illustration dancing back and forth


Photo of dried candy cap mushrooms


Candy Cap Mushroom Health Benefits

 

Candy cap mushrooms, like many mushrooms, offer several health benefits, although they are more often celebrated for their unique flavor in culinary applications rather than their medicinal properties. However, as part of the broader mushroom family, candy caps may provide some general health benefits associated with fungi:

  1. Antioxidants: Mushrooms are known to contain antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body. These are important for reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

  2. Vitamins and Minerals: Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3), which are essential for energy production and brain health. They also contain minerals like selenium, which is crucial for immune function and antioxidant activity.

  3. Dietary Fiber: Candy cap mushrooms can contribute to your daily fiber intake, promoting digestive health and aiding in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

  4. Low-Calorie Content: Adding mushrooms to your diet can help increase nutrient intake without significantly increasing calorie or fat intake, supporting overall weight management.

While these benefits are characteristic of mushrooms in general, the specific health impacts of candy cap mushrooms haven't been extensively studied, and they are typically used more for their flavor profile in culinary applications rather than as a health supplement. As always, for specific health advice, it's best to consult with healthcare professionals.



How To Prepare Edible Mushrooms

 

Keep your fresh candy cap mushrooms in the fridge, inside the wax paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel. They'll keep fresh for about 3 days.​ Fresh caps have a shorter shelf life so it will be rare if you ever see them in a grocery store but they can be found at farmer’s markets when in season. They should be eaten as soon as possible.

If you don't plan on eating them within the 3-day window, we recommend:

  • Cooking then storing in the freezer.

  • Drying in a dehydrator.

  • Drying in the oven at its lowest setting for 2 hours. Flip them halfway through.

​​

Pro Tip #1 → Ground up dried candy mushrooms can be tossed in a cookie or ice cream batter to lend a delicious maple syrup flavor.


Pro Tip #2 → Store these mushrooms towards the top of the fridge. Avoid the veggie drawer, it's often too cold for them!


A large group of candy cap mushrooms growing on the forest floor

Mushroom Hunting for The Candy Cap Species

 

Hunting for wild mushrooms can be a rewarding experience for mushroom enthusiasts and foragers. They can be found in various regions so here's a basic guide on how to hunt for these rare edible mushrooms:

  1. Mushroom Identification: Candy cap mushrooms, scientifically known as Lactarius rubidus, are small, distinctive fungi known for their exceptional aroma and flavor that resembles maple syrup or burnt sugar. These mushrooms have a convex to flat cap that ranges in color from light cinnamon to rusty orange. The gills underneath the cap are cream-colored and can exude a white latex liquid when snapped.

  1. Choose the Right Season and Location: Typically found in fall through early spring, depending on the region's climate. Look for wooded areas, particularly under hardwoods like tanoaks, coast live oak, and conifers (such as pines and douglas fir). They have a symbiotic relationship with these tree species.

  2. Be Observant: When searching, scan the forest floor near the base of trees. Look for the characteristic cap shape and color.

  3. Inspect and Identify: Before harvesting, inspect each mushroom carefully to ensure it matches the characteristics of candy cap mushrooms. Be certain of your identification, as there are similar-looking mushrooms.

  4. Harvest Responsibly: Once you find them, carefully cut or twist them at the base to avoid damaging the mycelium (the underground part of the fungus) or the surrounding environment. Leave some mushrooms behind to allow for future growth and to maintain the health of the ecosystem.

  5. Leave No Trace: Practice responsible foraging by leaving the environment as you found it. Avoid disturbing the forest floor, and be mindful of the surrounding flora and fauna.

  6. Consult Field Guides and Experts: If you're new to mushroom foraging or have any doubts about identification, consult field guides, join local mushroom foraging groups, or seek guidance from experienced mycologists. Always prioritize safety and responsible foraging practices.

Keep in mind that while porcini mushrooms are generally considered safe to eat and highly sought after for their culinary value, it's essential to be confident in your identification skills and to follow local regulations regarding foraging in public or protected areas. If you plan to consume any type of mushrooms, consult with an expert or experienced forager to ensure their safety and suitability for consumption.

Learn more about how to clean mushrooms in our helpful blog.


Woman's hand holding an extra large candy cap mushroom in the forest

CANDY CAP Mushroom Recipes We Love

 

Fresh candy caps have a mild taste, but when turned into a dried mushroom, they develop a robust sweet flavor akin to maple syrup, making them highly prized for culinary uses, especially in desserts like ice cream, puddings, and baked goods. This unique sweet profile is a rarity among mushrooms, which typically have more savory dishes or earthy notes.

Our candy caps are wild foraged on the West Coast (by us in Santa Cruz County, California). If you’re curious about the aroma of maple syrup from a mushroom, check out our Organic Cotton Candy Cap. It’s packed with tasty burnt sugar flavor all from dried candy cap mushrooms tucked into a delicious dessert.



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