An edible mushroom
One of the most famous and appreciated edible mushrooms that can be found in the woods, even Italian, is the Cantharellus cibarius, which is also called rooster or finferlo. Then there is a fungus that is very similar to it, and with which it can be confused, which is in turn edible and very good to eat. It's called Hydnum repandum; it belongs to the Hydnaceae family, and is known in the parlance of mushroom seekers as a small stick. This nickname derives from the fact that under the hat it has a series of spines, which is then a characteristic that makes it possible to distinguish it from the Cantharellus, and from other similar species. The mushroom is also known with other denominations, such as sheep tripe and goat's beard; the Latin name repandum, on the other hand, indicates the shape of the hat, which faces the fur.
The characteristics of the Hydnum repandum
The Hydnum repandum shows a sunken hat in the center and slightly bent upwards on the edges; the color is yellowish white, or sometimes it also has a darker shade, brick orange. The size of the hat can reach 15 centimeters in the largest specimens, and the meat is very firm and compact. The stalk-shaped lamellas that lie beneath the hat are white in color, while they sometimes turn towards salmon pink. The stem is very large and robust, usually eccentric with respect to the hat, of its same color. It can be up to nine centimeters high and is completely hairless. The internal meats are white and firm, and tend to turn yellow on contact with air. The smell of Hydnum repandum is strongly fungine and the taste is pleasant, with a vaguely bitter aftertaste.
Where Hydnum repandum grows
The Hydnum repadnum is a rather common mushroom also in Italy, and is easily found in the deciduous and coniferous forests, especially in the mountains. Its most interesting feature for prospectors is that its growth often lasts throughout the autumn, until the beginning of winter; and if you are in areas with mild temperatures, the steccherino can also be found until January. It is also a gregarious mushroom, so it always grows in groups, often in a circle, to form the notorious circles known as witches. Sometimes the specimens are arranged to form long strips that extend for many meters in the undergrowth. In addition to the Cantharellus cibarius, Hydnum repandum could be confused with another species of its genus, Hydnum rufescens, which, however, has a more bitter taste, and spikes of different shape.
How to consume the Hydnum repandum
If you can make a nice collection of Hydnum repandum, you will have secured a tasty ingredient to bring to the table. For the harvest, it is necessary to proceed as usual for the mushrooms, or rather the base of the stem must be cut near the ground with the special small knife. For cleaning, you should not use running water, but only a small brush and a damp cloth to remove excess earth. In the case of Hydnum repandum, the spines must then be removed under the hat, which have a bitter taste. Furthermore, it is not advisable to eat this raw mushroom, because it could cause stomach ache. On the other hand, Cotto is very tasty, and is mainly used to make polenta. About its preservation, the preferred method is in oil. Hydnum repandum in Italy is especially appreciated in the central north, where it is used for many recipes.