Phallus Impudicus, also known as Stinkhorn or Witch’s Eye, is a rather surprising mushroom! It grows into two very distinctive shapes: first as an egg that is half buried into the ground and when it gets mature, it turns into a phallic shape. At this stage, more often than not you actually smell it before you spot it! This quite cheesy smell is what attracts flies which land on it and help disperse the spores. But lucky enough it’s the young mushroom we are about!
I really like Phallus Impudicus as it is a great beginner mushroom, there is nothing like it! To confirm our mushroom identification, all you need is to cut it in half horizontally and if you end up with what look like a witch’s eye you will have your answer! The jelly that surrounds the centre is supposed to be aphrodisiac but it didn’t work for me! 😉
According to books, it is not worth eating it! Well I disagree! “As we know, mushroom books are written by mycologists not by cooks” (Chris Bax). Eaten fresh, it has a rather radishy taste and could add a bit of flavour and texture to your salads, stews or pizzas, but it is when it is dried that it reveals its most interesting flavour.
It is fairly easy to dry Witch’s Eye, you start by cutting it at its base to access the dark part. The jelly is attached by a thin white membrane that you peel like an egg shell. You will end up with a dark ball that you slice into thin cuts (about 2 mm).
The Witch’s Eye has a natural hole in the middle and it is where you are going to pass your thread. Once you created your lovely garland (!), hang it in a dry, airy, dark place. After 3 or 4 days it should be dried. To check just pinch them and if they feel like cardboard in texture then they are ready. You could store them like this for months in an air-tight container.
We like to pulverise it into powder and use it as a stock or as a condiment for soups and sauces. It is also a great ingredient for hikers, who have to be careful with the weight they carry. Few spoons of this mushroom powder could make a delicious sauce for your pasta or rice dish.