The many varieties of mushrooms

Mushroom estimators are well aware of the infinite variety existing in nature of mycetes, which generally proliferate in humid and protected environments during the autumn period. The first major differentiation that can be made between fungi is between those that are edible, and those that are not, because they are harmful, to a greater or lesser extent, to human health. Among the edible mushrooms there are some very valuable and well known, such as the porcino; others have found widespread use mainly due to intensive cultivation, such as the champignon mushrooms. Then there are some lesser-known species of mushrooms because they are less easy to find and therefore less common in our forests, such as Albatrellus pes caprae, which is more commonly known in the environment as bruin.

A saprophytic fungus

The bruin probably takes this name from a dialectal term of Northern Italy, which indicates its dark color. The botanical term with which it is indicated, Albatrellus pes caprae, derives from its family, the Albatrellaceae, while the order is that of the Russulales, and the Latin term pes caprae remembers the peculiar shape of the mushroom, which has a little stem 'moved sideways so as to look like a goat's foot. The Albatrellus is commonly called also in many other ways, for example tongue of heath, or tramp. Being a saprophytic fungus, that is to say that it feeds on organic matter, it is easier to find it in broad-leaved woods, from the end of summer until late autumn. In Italy it is particularly widespread in the Veneto region, but it is now rare to find any specimens.

The characteristics of bruin

Bruin is no longer very easy to find, but when it is encountered, it is practically impossible not to recognize it. In fact it has very specific characteristics that make it easily identifiable, and therefore also difficult to exchange with other non-edible, or even poisonous, varieties. Its first characteristic is in the color of the hat, which is brown, more or less dark, and is covered in scales. Its diameter can vary from a minimum of 7 to a maximum of 13 centimeters, and underneath it is formed by whitish or yellow tubes that end in pores that dry up when the fungus is old. The stem can be up to three centimeters high, has a cylindrical shape and is never perfectly central to the hat. The bruin meats are white, firm and compact. The fungus does not give off any odor.

Bruin: How to look for and consume bruin

Bruin must be sought in broad-leaved woods, where it grows at the base of trees, in the damp undergrowth. Generally it grows in groups. The collection should be performed as for any other mushroom, or simply by pulling. In fact you absolutely must not use knives or other to remove it from the ground, but just grab it by the stem, rotate it and then pull upwards. Even the bruin, like most other mushrooms, should not be washed, because the water would enter the pores and spoil the taste, but should only be brushed to remove excess soil. Later, it can be eaten cooked or raw, and for preservation the best way is to preserve it in oil. For cooking, a very appetizing modality is called the Venetian, and consists in putting it, cut into slices, in a pan with the onion. The flavor of raw bruin meat is similar to that of hazelnut.