The hedgehog mushroom or “pied de mouton” in French (hydnum repandum, hydnaceae family, basidiomycete class, from the Greek ûdnon, meaning “tuber”, referring to its dented look) is a wild mushroom that is also called the wood hedgehog mushroom. The principal characteristic used to identify it is a hymenium that is composed of decurrent teeth rather than gills (descending the length of the pedicle) unlike its cousin, the Terracotta Hedgehog (hydnum rufescens) which has a cap in more tawny colours and non decurrent teeth (none on the pedicle).
The convex, irregularly shaped cap is sometimes white, but more often tawny yellow, with edges that are more or less wavy and sinuous, measuring from 5 to 15 cm in diameter.
It has a whitish thickset pedicle (3 to 8 cm high) and the tips on the inside of the cap are cylindrical, fragile and darker than the outside. Rarely solitary, this wild mushroom is often to be found in circular colonies or in lines, with some actually welded together. Giving off a mild, fruity odour, the abundant white flesh is firm and brittle and it yellows with exposure to the air, becoming orangey or reddish yellow on the fold.
The flavour of the mushroom becomes increasingly bitter with age. With a low calorie count (15 kcal/100 g), the hedgehog mushroom is full of proteins (2 g/100 g).
Production and consumption
Very common in the undergrowth of conifers and broad-leaved trees (oaks, chestnut trees and especially beech) in our forests, it is picked from August to November and in some regions it can still be picked in December and even early January.
It does not shrink much when cooked (to remove the bitterness if old). It is prepared like the chanterelle, in a frying pan with butter, salt, pepper and herbs. It goes well with meat and fish, enhances sauces, tarts and mushroom pies, and makes eggs very tasty (scrambled, poached, omelette). (Sources: Atlas des champignons, Editions Nathan)
At Rungis Market
As Mr Olivier Perichon, Manager of Butet, explains: “The season begins in early September, with hedgehog mushrooms from France (Limousin, Champagne Ardennes); later the mushrooms from Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal) take over. This allows us to sell them up to December, sometimes January. The volumes vary between 1 and 3 tons per week depending on years.”