Latin: Lactarius Indigo
The Lactarius Indigo mushroom looks out of place in nature. It is blue, *Ahem* it is really really blue. When sliced with a knife, it stains an even darker blue. My friend Mike Kempenich of the Mikeology Store informed me that these can be used as a dye as well. After seeing the way that they stained my hands, I believe it.
I became aware that these grow around the metro area about 3 years ago. My wife and I had just been on a fairytale-esque mushroom hunting excursion at a nearby park, to great success. After you start picking wild mushrooms, you develop something of a “sixth sense” for them. You may begin to see the world through a lens of mushrooms as opposed to seeing a world with mushrooms in it. She took a picture of one, (actually the picture here is the one she took) and promptly showed me, exited that she had found something so unusual. She looked it up and told me she had found something called Lactarius Indigo, and that it was edible. I didnt really think that much of it, and was probably a bit jealous of not finding it myself.
The next year was a different story however. I was out by myself in one of my favorite parks where I battle the Russian Grandmas for mushrooms. I remember it being near an entrance rich with equine dung and pine trees (a horse trail). Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a mushroom under the pine trees, very surprising as at this point I generally held that pine stinks and doesnt give me any mushrooms. Boy was I wrong.
Where to find Lactarius Indigo
They grow with pine, I have only found them under Eastern White Pine. They come up at the same time as the Chickenfat Bolete, which would put them in early to late August.
How to cook These are relatively clean mushrooms, just check for the occasional pine needle. the big problem here is that bugs like these guys, more than likely what you find may be past prime. You could make some stock out of the buggy ones, but at home there are so many other options for mushrooms that I don’t know how viable that is.
When sliced and sauteed
they will turn slightly grey as they cook in oil. The color will not be totally gone, but it will definitely be muted and very hard to see, definitely not vibrant. To get around this, I tried “pouleing” them, basically keeping them very moist and not letting them touch the bare pan with oil. You could blanch them quickly in salted water if you like, this should also retain the color. I started making a very moist ragu of 12 different mushrooms, after they had started to cook, I added some liquid, like meat stock or vegetable broth, and then added the Lactarius Indigo. To my complete amazement, the color held and I had a really cool sauce made of 12 different wild mushrooms with large pieces of blue mushroom floating around in it. It was a hit, and friends raved!
This is a good wild mushroom with a flavor not unlike a commercial mushroom crossed with a lobster mushroom, with a nice crunchy bite, some people say these get granular or have an unpleasant texture, every chef on the line agreed it was a fine and worthwhile mushroom, with plenty of flavor. I will try pickling them this year and see if they hold their color in a brine or pickle liquid.
Preservation They can be sliced and dried in a dehydrator, Russians would probably pickle or salt and ferment them in a crock. They could also be sliced or boiled in saltwater quickly, and then frozen.