Showdown: Beer vs mushrooms

A white picket fence divides my yard and the next. On the other side, a tidy green lawn. On my side, matted masses of native plants. This morning, further evidence that my side is reverting to wildness: a cluster of Coprinus sp., inky caps, that shot up overnight on the edge of the driveway.

See how the edges deliquesce into black ink?

See how the edges deliquesce into black ink?


I suspect it’s Coprinus atramentarius, aka Tippler’s Bane. George Barron calls it “a good edible.” But he also says it contains a compound similar to Antabuse. Combine C. atramentarius with alcohol, and you get an unpleasant vasodilation. It takes three days for the toxin that causes that flushing to leave the body, and no drinking during that time. Why bother calling it edible at all, is what I’d like to know. Perhaps it’s a useful mushroom if you’re lost in the woods for days without any beer.

Then I open David Arora’s book. He says it “sometimes” does that; and calls it a “fairly good” edible. Somehow, he strikes me as more of a stomach-driven mushroom hunter than Barron:

The grayish-brown caps look rather unappetizing—and precisely for this reason were the very first wild mushroom I ventured to eat. Inky cap-and-salami sandwhiches (sic) became a staple item in my teen-age diet until I discovered finer and more flavorful fungal foods, such as “Sparassis Sole” and “Agaricus Elegante.”

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2 responses to “Showdown: Beer vs mushrooms

  1. An elderly gentlemen at one of the Oregon Mycological Society (I think. There have been so many.) meetings showed a photo of this and after giving it’s common name said “Naturally, I’ve never tried it.” I always got a kick out of that.

  2. Someday I’ll cook this mushroom in a cognac sauce (boiling off the alcohol, of course) just to spite it.

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