Rufous Milkcap

Lactarius rufus


Distinguishing characteristics:
The Rufous Milkcap is a rather small to medium-sized edible mushroom. Its cap is a uniform reddish brown, the colour of gingerbread, with a silky sheen when dry, initially convex and later becoming flattened or somewhat funnel-shaped. There is usually a distinct point in the centre of the cap. The gills are a light reddish shade. The stem is slim, smooth and hollow, the same colour as the cap or lighter. The flesh is a light brownish colour and the latex is white and non-staining. It has a hot, acrid flavour and a crisp, coniferous scent.

The Fenugreek Milkcap closely resembles the Rufous Milkcap. Its cap is slightly larger, paler, and has a velvety surface. Uniquely among the Milkcaps, its latex is as clear as water. The Fenugreek Milkcap is probably slightly poisonous, so a novice mushroom hunter should learn to distinguish between the Fenugreek and Rufous Milkcaps. The Fenugreek Milkcap is especially at home in moist environments such as swampy riparian forests and pine bogs. The Ugly Milkcap (L. turpis) is also no longer recommended for consumption.

The Rufous Milkcap grows alone or in groups throughout Finland in many types of forests, barren pine heaths in particular, and sometimes even among lichen vegetation on rocky outcrops. In dry summers, Rufous Milkcaps can be found in swampy heaths and drained bogs, particularly at the edges of drainage ditches. The Rufous Milkcap is a very common and abundant mushroom.

Harvest season:
Depending on summer weather conditions, the season falls sometime in July to October.

Prior to consumption, freezing or salting, Rufous Milkcaps must be boiled for 10 minutes in copious water. After boiling, they should be rinsed under running water, and the boil water should be discarded. Small Rufous Milkcaps are suitable for marinating and for various kinds of pickles.