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Gyromitra Esculenta

Gyromitra Esculenta or false morel is a dark brown brain shaped fungus found in the temperate coniferous forests of Europe and North America. The mushroom has a pleasant fruity odor and a mild taste. It is also called brain mushroom, calf-brain mushroom, elephant ears, turban fungus or beefsteak mushroom. The mushroom is poisonous when eaten raw, hence should be consumed with after proper and correct cooking. It is most often cooked by sautéing, and is much popular in the Finnish cuisine. It may be used to prepare fillings, soups, stews and creamy sauces.

The mushroom is most often found in sandy soils in spring or early summer, under coniferous trees. It brain shaped cap may be upto 15cm wide and 10cm high. It has a color anywhere near dark brown, purple or reddish brown.

Poisonous Nature

Gyromitra Esculenta mushrooms are poisonous when raw, and eating them raw may even prove fatal. Its sale is prohibited in countries like Spain, and in various other countries there are statutory guidelines about sellers printing warnings about correct cooking methods on the packaging. Even parboiling before culinary usage is not considered to make the mushrooms entirely safe for consumption.

Symptoms of poisoning by Gyromitra Esculenta include diahrhea, vomiting after some hours of consumption, followed by giddiness and headache. Some cases may result in a state of delirium, coma or even death within 5 to 7days.

Culinary Uses

The mushroom is considered to be a delicacy in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, as well as in the upper Great Lakes region in North America. It is used as a stuffing for omelets or for preparing soups. It is also used to make creamy dishes in the Finnish cuisine, where it is an important variety of mushrooms in the spring season. The mushrooms are used to prepare soups, stews, pie fillings and sauces. They may be simply fried with onions and served as a side dish. Most finish mushroom recipes are actually Russian ones, as the Finnish originally only used mushrooms for dying fabrics.

Preferred Cooking Methods

Gyromitra Esculenta is best cooked by sautéing, a method most often adopted to cook this mushroom in Finnish cuisine. It may also be cooked by boiling or simmering to prepare soups and stews. The mushrooms are parboiled and rinsed before any kind of culinary usage to free them of their toxicity.

Popular Gyromitra Esculenta Recipes

  • Brain Mushroom Omelet: Brain mushrooms are sliced and cooked in broth by simmering, and then used as filling for omelet.
  • Sauteed Brain Mushrooms: The mushrooms are sliced, boiled, rinsed and then sautéed in butter along with onions to make a popular Finnish side dish.
  • Brain Mushroom Pie: This consists of a pie crust, a layer of sautéed brain mushrooms and a topping of a mixture of sour cream, cream, milk and eggs.


Hunting for false morels and other mushrooms is a popular Finnish outdoor activity, just like berry picking.