Shaggy Ink Cap Mushroom

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(Scientific Name: Coprinus comatus) A mushroom variety that was named for the early era process of producing ink by boiling the blackened mushrooms in water with cloves. As a cousin of the Common Ink Cap mushroom, the Shaggy Ink Cap mushroom has a white skin with tan coloring across its shaggy appearing outer flesh. During the early growth of this mushroom, the cap appears compressed into an oval shape like a closed umbrella. As the oval grows and spreads out, the mushroom begins to form an umbrella-shaped cap. It is during the early growth stages while still oval or egg-shaped that the gills beneath the cap of the young mushooms are very white and tender textured. As the mushroom ages, the gills darken and become blackened with an inky coloring that actually begins to drip dark black fluid as it deteriorates. Also known as the Shaggy Inky Cap, Shaggy Mane, Inky Top, and Lawyer's Wig mushroom, the Shaggy Ink Cap can be kept only a few hours before beginning to deteriorate, so it is best not to attempt to air dry this mushroom.

It is important to use caution if this mushroom is to be eaten or if the persons selecting this mushroom are unsure of the variety of Ink Cap being considered. As a cousin to the Shaggy Ink Cap, the Common Ink Cap, Inky Cap, or Alcohol Ink Cap mushroom as this type is also referred, it is a mushroom that can be toxic if eaten with or after consuming alcohol. The Common Ink Cap has a smooth appearance without the noticable shaggy looking outer covering. Knowing the concerns about the Common variety of the Ink Cap mushroom make it questionable as to whether it should be consumed and is generally not recommended as an edible mushroom, especially one to be served to guests.

Since it is important to note that alcoholic beverages or medicines with alcohol content must not be consumed while eating the Ink Cap mushrooms, it is also advised to not consume any item with alcohol several days before or after eating the Ink Cap mushrooms, due to the potential for causing severe illness. The combination of alcohol with Inky or Ink Cap mushrooms may cause heart palipatations and vomiting, so extreme caution must be taken when preparing any type of food with the Inky Cap mushrooms.

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