Wednesday, October 28, 2009
One of the all time most prized and collected of wild mushrooms, the Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus campestris, is usually found in open grassy fields. It has a low, squat stature and chocolate-brown spores. We find it in the rows in the vineyard where I work. It is frequently found late summer and fall after a rain in areas where the grass is cut very short.
We use a flail mower in the vineyard which cuts and pulverizes grass to dirt level, allowing the light cream-colored caps to be very visible when they begin to grow. The physical mixing of grass and dirt by the flail mower probably assists in the growth and spread of A. campestris.
This is a close relative of the button mushrooms and Portabellas you find at the grocers. However, the flavor of the Meadow Mushroom is very rich and much superior to the varieties available in the store. Given favorable conditions, you sometimes find A. campestris in great abundance, in quantities that can fill baskets and bags.