Fairy Ring Mushroom

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(Scientific Name: Marasmius oreades) Named for the manner in which it grows in open fields and meadows, this variety of mushroom emerges in clusters that form the shape of an irregular circle or "ring" that may be 8 to 15 feet in diameter. With a small circular cap that may be 1 to 2 inches in diameter, the Fairy Ring mushroom has a gills beneath that cap that are widely spaced and well defined. Beneath the cap is a cream colored stem that is often discarded before eating, since it has a tendency to be tough textured.

Often confused with the deadly variety of mushroom known as the Clitocybe dealbata that looks like the Fairy Ring and grows in circles as well, caution should be used when purchasing or picking mushrooms to make sure it is accurately identified and labeled. When selecting fresh mushrooms, choose those that are young and tender. Dried varieties are also available which similarly, should have been picked when they are young and smaller in size. To clean, avoid using water and instead only use a mushroom brush to remove any debris or dirt. Remove the stem and combine the mushrooms with a variety of ingredients adding a pleasant flavor to the foods being prepared. This mushroom goes well in sauces, stuffings, soups, egg dishes, omelets, rice dishes, and with meat, poultry, and fish. They also can be prepared simply by frying in butter or olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper and possibly a little lemon juice, and serving as a side dish.

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