Coral Mushrooms (Clavariaceae)
Coral mushrooms are a colorful group of mushrooms, classified in the Clavariaceae family. They somewhat resemble the coral in growth but not in color. These fungi are mostly found during summer and fall; in wooded areas, growing on the ground or on decaying logs.
They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and grow in a variety of environments, along with other mushrooms either on trees or the ground.
Many species of these mushrooms are edible though they are not likely the species you will find in any area.
They are characterized by short and stout stems, which abruptly dissolve into a dense mass of erect branches with the tips of fading when old.
Note that the coral mushrooms you should eat are the kind found growing on dead, decaying wood. Also the top of each little cluster should have a crown like shape and finally … make sure that they are nice and young, do not eat any older/discolored specimens.
Quick Cleaning Tips
- You need to separate them into small individual clusters.
- Inspect them for debris and wash gently (and quickly) in cool water to remove any grit or unwanted particles.
- From there just rest them on clean towels or paper towels until they are dry and have shed any water.
How to Cook
- Coral mushrooms cook near instantaneously, also don’t season them with salt until the end or you could over cook them.
- You could saute them by heating a pan up with a bit of butter, once it starts to brown, throw in the corals.Cook for a minute or two, drain any residual fat off of them via paper towel and then add to whatever preparation you are using.
- Since they are so delicate, a wonderful way to enjoy them is in soup.
- You might cook them quickly in a nice clear broth, and serve with some garnishes.
- An alternate and awesome way of cooking coral mushrooms would be to bread or fry them since they cook so fast and are incredibly delicate. (Serve with lemon wedges or a flavored mayonnaise)
- In Asia, cooks will dry these (as they do cauliflower mushrooms as well) and then use them to make stock or broth. This also works great.
Coral mushrooms are decent candidates for drying, and will be a bit more chewy than their fresh counterparts once rehydrated. If you wish to pickle them, you could do it in large clusters, which would make an excellent gift/conversation piece.
Remember not to ever pick any corals that bruise brown when handled. Also avoid red corals; they are poisonous.
The unequal Calvaria (yellow and fragile) which is usually found in the woods around September is not classified among the edibles.4