I am *not* an expert on mushrooms, but do forage the common, easy-to-identify species including Chanterelles, Porcini, Oysters, and Meadow Mushrooms. Here’s one I’ve wanted to find for years, and finally did: a Lobster Mushroom!
Despite the name, a Lobster Mushroom isn’t a unique species, but rather a normal mushroom that’s been attacked by a parasitic mold called Hypomyces lactifluorum. The mold changes the colour, texture and flavour of the mushroom to the point that the original species - usually a Russula or Lactarius - is unrecognizable. Fortunately, the bright cooked-lobster colour is unmistakeable, and infected mushrooms are a delicacy.
I found this one in a coastal mixed forest, took it home, cleaned it up, and gave it a try. Lobsters are heavy, dense mushrooms; this one weighed just over 700 grams (about a pound and a half). The flesh is firm and bright white, with a pleasant earthy smell and just a hint of the scent of cooked lobster. Unlike most mushrooms, Lobsters keep their firm consistency when cooked. I’ve read that they taste like lobster, but I’d describe the flavour more like the love child of a scallop and a mushroom: mild, slightly sweet and umami-rich.
Lobsters are great for novice mushroom foragers, as they’re virtually impossible to mis-identify. Now that I’ve tried one, I’ll definitely add this moldy mushroom to the list that I hunt for. If you’re in the woods this fall, keep your eye out for this cool PEI fungus!