Orange Milkcap is a delicious edible mushroom that you'll find in very large quantities on spruce plantations. Cut the cap open and look for the orange milk that flows from its flesh—then you'll be sure that you've got the right mushroom.
Where to Find It
Orange milkcaps grow beneath spruce trees. You'll often find lots of them in the grass that lines forest paths on spruce plantations.
When to Find It
Orange milkcaps fruit in September and October.
Entire mushroom: September, October.
How to Spot It
Orange milkcaps rarely grow more than seven cm tall, and their caps spread up to ten cm in diameter. Orange in color when young, they begin life with a depression in the center of their wavy cap that deepens with time until the mushrooms are funnel-shaped. Their color changes too, eventually taking on a verdigris hue. The closely packed gills, yellowish-orange when young, change to the same color. Pocked with small depressions, the stem is salmon pink or orange, and becomes hollow with age. In wet weather the cap becomes slightly sticky. When you cut into a false saffron milk cap, it releases an orange liquid.
How to Pick It
Pick well-formed, dry, orange specimens. Carefully cut the mushroom at the foot and dust off most of the dirt with a brush. Milk caps are often attacked by fungus gnats, so check that the flesh is uniform by cutting into the mushroom.
On the palate
Orange milkcaps are mildly acidic, and sometimes taste faintly of resin or coconut. Their flesh is firm and gets crisper with age.
Orange milkcaps smell sweet like ripe fruit. The juice from the caps smells like carrots.
Orange milkcaps should be cooked before eating. The mushrooms can withstand prolonged heat, and will keep their firmness if you grill, braise, or fry them.
In southern Europe, people fry whole orange milkcaps in abundant olive oil. You can also flambé them with chestnuts or chilli peppers, or use them in chutney with honey and apricots. Serve sautéed mushrooms warm on toast, stir them into risotto, use them to add heft to a tomato sauce, or fold them into an omelet. Orange milkcaps also pickle well; the brine helps them maintain their distinctive crispness.
Store freshly picked mushrooms in a plastic bag in your refrigerator, where they'll stay fresh for two to three days. Dry, freeze, salt, or pickle the mushrooms that you don't use right away to extend their shelf life. You can also wash and store them in high-quality olive oil with herbs like thyme or marjoram, but this will shorten their shelf life.
Can substitute with other milk caps.
Risk of misidentifying the plant
They can be confused with saffron milk caps, which are just as edible as false saffron. milk caps, but not as interesting to cook with.