A winter mushroom
There are mushrooms that can be found only in nature, and of which one must therefore go in search of the undergrowth in the period of growth. There are others, however, that lend themselves to cultivation, and are easily found even in fruit and vegetable shops, or at the supermarket. Pleurotus Ostreatus belongs to the latter, a fungus that grows almost everywhere in Italy, but can also be found on the market, although obviously the flavor of the cultivated mushroom is not as intense as that of spontaneously grown mushrooms. In the common language of mushroom hunters it is called gelone, due to the fact that it grows in winter; it is also called orecchione, orecchietta or recchia, because its shape can remember that of an ear that protrudes from the trunks of the trees, on which it grows.
The characteristics of the gelone
If you decide to go in search of the ice cream, you could easily recognize it, given its very peculiar shape. In fact, even the botanical name already indicates its appearance: pleurotus is the composition of the terms pleuron, or lateral, and otos, or ear. In fact, the gelone looks like a side ear of trees. The term ostreatus instead indicates the shape of the hat, which, as the fungus grows, increasingly takes on the appearance of an oyster, curling at the edges. The hat is covered by a rather silky cuticle, which becomes viscous if there is a lot of moisture. The color varies from light gray to purplish brown, while the lower blades are whitish. The stem is lateral and eccentric, short, and in turn whitish. The hat can reach up to 25 centimeters in diameter.
Where to find the ice cream
The gelone, in nature, is widespread in poplar or beech woods, because it grows along tree trunks; but it is found very copiously also in the stumps, or on the trunks cut and dead. Since it is born in autumn, it is not very easy to confuse it with poisonous mushrooms, because at this time of year very few can be found. However, it is always a good idea to consult an expert for identification, since the gelone can be confused with the olive fungus, which is toxic, and has a morphological conformation very similar to the gelone, although its color is very different (in fact it has a yellowish cap). If you want to be on the safe side, it is better to buy the ice cream at the supermarket: its consumption is advisable not only for its taste, but also for the benefits it brings to human health.
Gelone: How to consume the ice cream
The gelone is used not only in the kitchen, but also in mycotherapy. Its main virtue is to keep blood cholesterol levels at bay. In fact, the gelone contains lovastatin, which is used precisely to lower bad cholesterol, and therefore to keep the arteries clean and healthy. Furthermore, the gelone strengthens the immune system (some think it also protects against tumors) and has an antioxidant action. It is not toxic under any circumstances, even if large quantities are consumed. It is also commercially available in the form of food supplements: but having the possibility, it is certainly better to eat it cooked on the grill and sautéed. In fact the meats of the jelly have a good smell of fresh flour, are firm and compact, and very tasty on the palate.