Goto ContentsGoto Top Page

Fairy-Ring Mushroom

Marasmius oreades

This petite mushroom is a nuisance to lawn owners: its mycelium browns the grass in arcs and rings. But it redeems itself by being a fine food. A homeowner can fight back by eating the mushrooms as they periodically appear. The rings formed by Marasmius oreades increase in diameter with time as the fungus seeks new food. Rings may grow to many feet across. A number of studies measuring distance and growth rate have estimated that rings of the M. oreades are probably centuries old and hundreds of feet across. The grass inside the ring recovers, but along the borders the damage continues. The French call it faux mousseron, or "mushroom scythe." The fairy-ring mushroom fruits abundantly during the warm months in the eastern United States, and all year in the west after rain or periodic watering.

FairyRing Mushroom -- Click for larger image

The flat, dry, tan to brown Marasmius caps are little more than 1 inch in diameter. The centers are raised and dome shaped. The widely separated buff-colored gills throw off many white spores. The odor of these mushrooms is agreeable. When waterlogged and aged, however, they acquire a fetid and disagreeable smell. It only takes one or two of these to foul a batch of dried mushrooms. Sun-dried specimens found on the lawn are safe, but not as good as mature caps dried at home. (Remember: do not try to identify mushrooms without the help of an expert.


Remove the fibrous stems with scissors and discard. They are too tough to eat. Insects seldom attack these mushrooms. Clean the tops under water with your fingers.


The flavor and aroma of M. oreades are out of proportion to its size. Added fresh to soups, ragouts, and stews, it confers a definite, somewhat sweet taste. This sweet quality also enhances the taste of cookies. It is excellent sautéed in butter with onions. Surprise your friends and family with a subtle change in flavor by adding this tasty and fragrant mushroom to your favorite soup. The caps are quite firm and tolerate long cooking. To prepare for use where shorter cooking times are called for, simmer them beforehand for 15 minutes in water with butter and lemon juice.


This mushroom is often dried before use, although it is delicious fresh. The caps are thin and dry quickly. String them on a thread with a button on the bottom and hang in a warm place. One of the unique characteristics of M. oreades is its amazing ability to rapidly take up water to resume its original texture, appearance, and taste. You needn't soak it prior to adding it to such foods as soups or stews. Just drop it into your pot.

Fairy-Ring Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 as first course

A great way to experience this small but strongly flavored mushroom.

  • 1 cup fresh or dried fairy-ring mushrooms (soaking these mushrooms is not necessary)
  • 2 large shallots or green onions, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • Cayenne
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry

If using fresh mushrooms, cook them with the shallots and butter in a heavy soup pot for 3 minutes. If using dried mushrooms, add about 1/2 cup of water to the pot with the butter and shallots. Add the flour, stir a minute or two, and whisk in the broth. Add the half and half, thyme, Tabasco sauce, cayenne, and salt to taste.

Simmer the soup over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not allow it to boil. Add the sherry just before serving.

--Louise Freedman


Rice Pilaf with Fairy-Ring Mushroom

Serves 4 as a side dish

Fairy-ring mushrooms are charming small mushrooms that can add a great deal of flavor to many dishes if they are cooked a little longer than most other mushrooms. Other mushrooms can be used in this recipe.

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fairy-ring mushrooms
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 cups hot beef broth
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy sauté pan or skillet and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth. Adjust the flavor by adding the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until the rice is soft and fuffy. Remove the lid and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

--Louise Freedman

Fairy-Ring Cookies

The sweetness of the fairy-ring mushroom enhances the flavor of these cookies. Substitute almond extract for the flavoring ingredient in your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

  • Your favorite sugar cookie recipe, without the flavoring
  • 1 cup dried fairy-ring mushroom caps, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix the cookies according to the recipe. Add the mushrooms and almond extract. Bake according to the recipe directions.

--Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms