The Ultimate Guide to Wine Cap Mushrooms

Wine cap mushrooms, formally known as Stropharia rugosoannulata, are a pretty burgundy color when they’re young, hence their romantic name. 

These mushrooms are earthy and nutty tasting without overwhelming the palette, making them a favorite of foodies everywhere. 

If you’d like to learn more about wine caps, keep reading as we delve into how to grow them, cook with them, their nutritional benefits, and more. 

Wine cap mushrooms by Holger Krisp

How to Identify Wine Cap Mushrooms

Where do you find wine cap mushrooms? If you’re searching for wine cap mushrooms out in the wild, you’ll typically find them growing in woody debris from late summer to early fall. 

You can identify them by their red wine-colored caps if they’re young, but they’ll turn a light brown color as they mature. 

New wine cap mushrooms look charmingly similar to the kind you see in cartoons, with bell-shaped caps, thick stems, and pale gills. 

As they get older, their caps flatten out and their gills turn purplish-gray. At their full height, they can be about 6 inches (15.25cm) tall. 

Thankfully, there are no poisonous mushrooms that are easy to confuse with the wine cap mushrooms. 

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What do Wine Cap Mushrooms Taste Like? 

Are wine cap mushrooms edible? Yes! And they’re delicious.

Wine cap mushrooms have a nutty flavor or a potato-like flavor, depending on who you ask. 

Because they’re firm and hearty, they make a great replacement for meat in vegan or vegetarian dishes.

Can You Eat Wine Cap Mushrooms Raw? 

It’s preferable to cook your wine cap mushrooms before you eat them. 

Not only will you get a richer flavor this way, but you’ll actually coax out more of the vitamins and nutrients that make these mushrooms so nourishing. 

How do you cook wine cap mushrooms? You can read our article on how to cook mushrooms the right way for more guidance on cooking your wine caps. 

Wine Cap Mushroom Recipes

What are wine cap mushrooms good for? Any dish you want to add complex flavor and density to. We like them paired with hearty vegetables or even pasta. 

If you’d like to try wine cap mushrooms in a recipe, you have lots of options! They make both an excellent main and side dish. (Just don’t saute them; they give off too much liquid.) 

You can find wine cap mushrooms at some higher-end grocery stores. If you have trouble sourcing any there, try your local farmer’s market. 

How much do wine cap mushrooms cost? They’ll typically run you about $8 – $12 a pound, but this can vary greatly depending on the time of year and where you live. 

Once you’ve got your hands on a few of these mushrooms, here are some recipes to try: 

Wine Cap Mushroom Soup (Adapted from Field & Forest

Image from Field & Forest

A little more unique than your traditional button mushroom soup, this dish will warm you up when temperatures start to drop. 

Serves 3

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • ½ cup shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic 
  • 1 pound wine cap mushrooms (chopped) 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon flour 
  • 1 cup vegetable broth 
  • 1 can coconut milk 
  • ¼ cup creme fraiche 

Step 1: In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until shallots are tender. 

Step 2: Add mushrooms, salt, cayenne pepper, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes. 

Step 3: Stir in lemon juice. Add flour to the mixture, and stir for 4 minutes. Add stock and stir for 8 minutes. Add milk.

Step 4:  Turn heat to low, and stir in creme fraiche. Serve and enjoy! 

Braised Wine Cap and Asparagus (Adapted from Field & Forest)

Image from Field & Forest

This is a simple and colorful dish that will help you get your vitamins and minerals in style. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wine cap mushrooms (sliced) 
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅛ cup white wine
  • Fresh rosemary 

Step 1: Place mushrooms in a saucepan and cover with water. Add remaining ingredients. 

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Once water is reduced to a thin sauce, plate and serve. 

Nutritional Benefits of Wine Cap Mushrooms

Like all (non-toxic) mushrooms, wine cap mushrooms are excellent for your health

Health-conscious folks like to include wine cap mushrooms in their diets because these mushrooms have no fat or cholesterol and only a small amount of sodium. 

There are also some studies that indicate wine cap mushrooms can potentially have medicinal use in the treatment of both cancer and HIV. 

Science also shows that wine cap mushrooms may be able to lower blood sugar in people diagnosed with diabetes.  

How to Grow Wine Cap Mushrooms 

Thankfully, these pretty, delicious and healing mushrooms are easy to grow at home. Most people choose to grow them on wood chips in their backyards

If you’d like to do the same, here’s how to get started. 

Supplies 

Growing wine cap mushrooms only requires a couple of supplies

  • Soft hardwood chips, such as willow, maple or magnolia 
  • Wine cap mushroom spawn (available to purchase online) 

Step 1: Select a Location for Your Wood Chip Bed 

You’ll want to set up your bed in a shaded area where your wood chips are less likely to dry out. Your bed should go on top of a mulched surface or soil floor. Remove any weeds beforehand. 

Step 2: Plant Your Bed

To create your bed, you’ll be layering substrate and spawn. Start with a layer of substrate, then sprinkle your spawn on top. 

Add another layer of substrate and continue until your bed is between 3 and 5 inches (7.62 – 12.7cm) deep.

You should finish with a thick layer of substrate to protect the spawn underneath from drying out. 

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Step 3: Keep Your Bed Hydrated

You want to keep your bed sufficiently moist for your mushrooms to grow and thrive. You can test the moisture level of your bed by pressing into it with your fingers.

It should feel damp, but not wet. If it’s not damp, water with a hose or sprinklers. You’ll likely need to give your bed about an inch (2.54cm) of water per week. 

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Step 4: Harvest your mushrooms 

How long does it take wine cap mushrooms to fruit? It may take anywhere from 2 to 11 months before your wine cap mushrooms are ready to harvest. 

How do you harvest wine cap mushrooms? It’s simple! 

The mushrooms are easy to pull from the bed using your hands. Keep them in your refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy them in your favorite meals. 

Note that after a year, you will likely need to add additional spawn and substrate to your bed to continue getting an abundance of mushrooms. 

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How to Store and Clean Wine Cap Mushrooms 

Whether you grow your own wine caps or purchase them at the market, you’ll need to know how to store and clean them. 

We have an entire step-by-step guide to cleaning mushrooms that you’ll want to reference for detailed instructions. But the gist of it is: get your wine caps wet as little as possible!

If you can simply brush any visible dirt off of your wine cap mushrooms, that’ll be your best option. If you do need to wash them, a light and quick rinse will typically do. 

While running your wine caps under water, you can use your fingers to gently remove any dirt from underneath their caps. 

If (and only if!) your mushrooms are exceptionally dirty, you can try soaking them in a bowl of water. Remove the mushrooms as soon as they’re clean to avoid water logging them. 

If you use this method, be sure to dry your mushrooms thoroughly by patting them dry with a kitchen cloth.   

Your wine caps will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week, but the sooner you eat them, the better. 

If you’ve harvested a lot of your mushrooms but won’t be able to eat them all in time, there are several ways to preserve them. Check out our article on preserving mushrooms for more info. 

Watch this video to see how we grew wine cap mushrooms in an outdoor mushroom bed.

Final Thoughts 

Wine cap mushrooms are an excellent choice to grow at home, both because it’s relatively easy to do and because they’re delicious! 

They add a great complexity (and not to mention lots of nutrition) to some of your favorite dishes. Plus, they look whimsical and attractive growing in your yard. 

If you’d like to learn more about growing mushrooms on your own, we have several classes to walk you through the process. Head on over to our mushroom courses page for more.