Russula is a genus of the Basidiomycota division, belonging to the Russulaceae family. Hundreds of species are found in this genus, widespread in many areas around the world. Representatives of this genus are distinguished by their brightly colored fruit bodies. They have whitish gills. The flesh is relatively soft and can easily be broken. The stalk is well-defined, white in color. It is of the same length everywhere.
Species of Russula
An example of Russula is the Russula virescens, more commonly known as the "green-cracking Russula". It is preferred by mushroom pickers because it is easily recognizable for its fleshy cap. While still growing it looks like a hemisphere but then flattens out. The cap of the mushroom is covered with a gray-green or greenish skin, that is difficult to get rid of. Once the mushroom begins aging, yellow spots appear on the cap. The stalk in this species is white, reaching up to 4″ (10 cm).
Picking and Storing Russula
Picking mushrooms of course presents great joy to any enthusiastic mushroom picker. But while you are still inexperienced, you shouldn't do this without an expert by your side. Russula should be picked only by expert mushroom pickers because there is a danger of mistaking it with its inedible poisonous twin. For example, instead of Russula virescens, you may end up picking Amanita phalloides, the deadly poisonous "death cap".
The green-cracking Russula is common in deciduous forests. It is found near beeches and oaks, sometimes around birch as well. Often it thrives under the shade of roadside bushes. They can be found as single mushrooms or in clusters. Green-cracking Russula can be spotted from July to September, recognizable by the dark spots on its cap.
Whenever picking different types of mushrooms, never put them all in the same container. It's best to prepare several containers, 1 for each type. This precaution is taken because if a poisonous mushroom is found, all of the other mushrooms that have touched it need to be thrown out.
Otherwise, green-cracking Russula is great tasting. The upside to this species is that it can be stored fresh longer than other species. But to do this, it does require to be kept in a dark, dry and cool place.
Edible Russula are appetizing. Of course, the flesh varies in color and smell depending on the species. In general though, their unobtrusive taste and pleasant flavor makes them suitable for many chefs' kitchens. In order to make sure that you'll prepare your Russula in the best possible way, you have to keep in mind several main things.
Before putting Russula into a dish, it is best to heat treat them a little bit. You can boil them in salted water for 20 min. Some chefs take a different approach - they soak them in cold water for several hours. Russula mushrooms are very suitable for fried or baked dishes.
If making soup from Russula, be careful because some species release a bitter tinge, which is easily felt in this type of dish. In vegetarian cuisine, they make a type of "steak" from Russula with larger caps, that are grilled whole. Then they add cumin, rosemary, coriander and onion rings.
Russula mushrooms combine well with all kinds of vegetables, sour cream, onions. In some specialties, they are mixed with other mushroom varieties. They are seasoned with dill, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, fenugreek, savory and other spices. They can be used to make salads, appetizers, and stuffings for bakery goods.
Let us offer you a nutritious and flavorful recipe for Russula soup.
Preparation: Clean and wash the mushrooms, then leave them in cold water for a few hours. Next, cut them finely. Clean and chop the onions, carrots and potatoes. In a pot, saute the onions and add the mushrooms to them.
Pour several cups of warm water over the products and add the potatoes and carrots. Add the spices and leave the soup on the heat until the products soften. Optionally, sprinkle with chopped dill or parsley.
Benefits of Russula
As with all other mushrooms, edible Russula are also very healthy for our bodies. These mushrooms are a source of fatty acids, proteins and mono- and disaccharides. Healthy nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus are also found in it. Eating Russula can help us get our needed vitamins Е, С, В and РР.
According to experts, consumption of this genus of mushrooms is good for people who have problems with the digestive tract. They are also extraordinarily beneficial for those actively trying to lose excess pounds, since they are nutritious but low-calorie at the same time.