An elegant mushroom with a slender, dark stalk and a cap that looks like a fashionable Parisian parasol from the 20s, the garlic parachute smells intensely of its namesake allium.
Where to Find It
The garlic parachute's preferred habitat is the beech forest, where it lives on and around fallen branches and tree stumps. Sometimes just one or two specimens will grow on their own, but more often you'll find several clustered together. They are easy to recognize by the straight, dark stems that raise them above the rest of the forest floor’s growth.
Deciduous forests, towns.
When to Find It
Garlic parachutes are very common in fall.
Entire mushroom: September, October.
How to Spot It
Garlic parachutes can grow up to 20 cm tall. Their lightly hairy stems only grow a couple of millimeters thick. Their stems are dark brown to black, with the darkest part closest to the base. The very young mushrooms are quite dark with nearly round caps. With age they get lighter and flatter, though older mushrooms retain a central bump from their more rounded. Light leather-brown gills grow under their caps, which are rarely more than seven cm in diameter.
How to Pick It
Carefully pick garlic parachutes with your fingers and place the mushrooms in a sealed container so they retain their aroma.
On the palate
Garlic parachutes taste distinctively of garlic with a strong umami flavor and a hint of truffle. The stems are very fibrous; the caps are softer.
Their scent is like that of ramsons and slightly burnt rubber.
Garlic parachutes can be used raw or cooked. It’s more common, however, to use them in braises and similar recipes. If you're going to incorporate raw parachutes in a dish, stick to the caps, as the stems are tough and fibrous. Leave the stems on when drying, however, as they have a very pronounced garlic flavor.
Garlic parachutes are too insubstantial to use alone in a mushroom dish, but they make a smashing seasoning if you're looking to add a delicious garlic flavor. Four or five of them is enough to boost, for example, a stew with less flavorful mushrooms. They go well with rice dishes and in any recipe that calls for the flavor of freshly chopped garlic. Sauteed in brown butter, they make a delicious garnish for cabbage or pasta.
Garlic parachutes have a very short shelf life in the refrigerator—they shouldn't be left for more than a couple days. They're very suitable for drying, though, and once dried, can be stored in a glass bottle with oil and herbs.
You can substitute ramsons for garlic parachutes.
Risk of misidentifying the plant
There is no risk of mistaking the plant for another dangerous or undesirable plant.