This weird-looking mushroom should be on your menu

March 5, 2018, 9:22 a.m.
hedgehog mushroom in woods
Photo: Tomasz Czadowski/Shutterstock

If you're new to mushrooming, you know that it's wise to stick with foraging mushroom species you can easily identify and can't mistake for an inedible species. The hedgehog mushroom is one of those wonderful species that is both easy to identify and easy to turn into a delicious meal.

The hedgehog mushroom, also called the sweet tooth mushroom, accounts for two closely related species, Hydnum repandum and Hydnum umbilicatum. Both are distinctive in appearance when you flip them over. Instead of seeing gills when you look under the cap, you'll see spore-bearing structures that appear "spiny" or "toothed." The teeth are soft to the touch and break off fairly easily.

hedgehog mushroom underside showing teeth Hedgehog mushroom underside, showing the spore-bearing 'teeth.' (Photo: Michaelpuche/Shutterstock)

Hedgehog mushrooms can be found from mid-summer to late fall. As Mushroom Collecting notes, "One really good thing about them is that bugs tend to leave them alone. During the summer that can be very refreshing since so many good looking finds can be infested during the warmer months."

You’ll be able to spot these at first by the dry, smooth, irregularly shaped cap, which is usually a pale tan to brown color. You can then check if it’s a hedgehog by looking for the tell-tale spines on the underside.

Though there are similar-looking species, there are no poisonous look-alikes, making them a favorite among folks who are new to mushroom foraging.

There aren't any magical medicinal properties to hedgehog mushrooms, but they rank way up there in deliciousness. Similar in taste to the golden chanterelle, a favorite among chefs, the hedgehog has a sweet and nutty flavor, similar in many ways to the chanterelle. The density and texture is also similar, so you can substitute chanterelles with hedgehogs in recipes.

Whether you want to saute them, fry them up or dry them out to use later in soups and sauces, hedgehogs won't disappoint. Forager chef has a list of fantastic recipes for you to try out.

Related on MNN: What to eat, what to avoid when looking for wild mushrooms