Charcoal burner is a beautiful looking mushroom that tastes good too. It’s common in woods from summer through to autumn.
What it looks like: a firm, rounded cap 7-12 cm across. Cap colour is very variable, with violets, greys, pinks, greens and yellows, making it well camouflaged against the woodland floor. It has a t thick white stem. The gills under the cap are white, soft and flexible.
Don’t confuse it with: the fragile russula (Russula fragilis) which is also very variable in colour but is hot, bitter and inedible, and grows under broadleaved trees and conifers. If you’re not experienced in mushroom identification, the russula (also known as brittlegill) family of mushrooms can be very daunting! A few will give you a tummy upset but they are not deadly.
Where to find it: look for it on the ground in broadleaved woods, mostly beech and oak.
How to use it: excellent, firm-textured mushroom and this species is considered to be the best of the edible russulas as it doesn’t go soggy when cooked. It has a crunchy, nutty texture and a mild taste. Sautée with onions and garlic, serve with meat dishes or use for omelettes, soups and stews.