Kozák, a mushroom for mushroom pickers! Read how and where to find it and prepare it in 100 ways

Kozák belongs to the same genus of mushrooms as porcini mushrooms, and maybe that’s why it’s easy to identify it in the forest and not bring home something you don’t want instead!

They have an unmistakable look, which you will learn all about in this article!

We also bring you useful information on how to process them, what dishes to use them in and how to cook the best fritters from them!

What is a Cossack?

It belongs to the same family as our favorite mushrooms. They grow in early June and last until autumn.

The most common places of occurrence are the trunks of birches, aspens and oaks.

They are easy to recognize, which is why they are recommended for collection especially by inexperienced mushroom pickers, as it is most likely that they will not mistake the Cossack mushroom for another poisonous mushroom.

Collected mushrooms in one place and some are cut.
Source: scmycoflora.org

How to recognize a Cossack?

  • These mushrooms, with the exception of one species, will tell you immediately, thanks to their specific characters, what they are. The main identification mark is the so-called scales that adorn their legs.
  • The scales are red, brown or black.
  • They are generally large, fleshy and heavy mushrooms and are resistant to forest parasites, so they are rarely infected or eaten.
  • We find them in deciduous forests under, birches, oaks and aspens, from June to the end of November.
  • The hat can be found in various shades of brown, sometimes with a red or gray tinge and with a wavy brim.
  • The surface of the cap resembles velvet in young mushrooms, but with age it loses this characteristic.
  • The pores are dirty white, sometimes with brownish spots. When pressed, there is no rapid color change, but they gradually turn slightly brown.
  • Their leg is mostly white or yellowish-brown, 7 to 20 cm high. Dark brown scales cover the entire surface of the leg, but are noticeably coarser at the base of the stem.
  • The pith is white and sometimes turns slightly pink when cut or broken (NEVER turns blue, which is a useful identification).
Cossacks laid in the grass on the ground with scaly legs and yellow pores.
Source: researchgate.net

Types of Cossacks

Birch Cossack

  1. It grows from May to November and always grows under birch trees.
  2. We find it in small groups on acidic soils.
  3. The hat grows up to 15 cm. In wet weather, it is greasy and sticky, brown, gray-brown in color.
  4. The pores are white and ocher to brown when squeezed.
  5. The leg is grey-white and may have yellow, grey-black patches of scale on it as an adult.
  6. The pith is fleshy and firm, the older the mushroom, the more it loses its firmness. When cut, the color changes from white to light pink.
  7. It is a very tasty edible mushroom with many culinary uses.
A tall and massive mushroom growing in a bright spot in the forest.
Source: flickr.com

Cossack poplar

  1. It grows in the period from June to October. It can be found most often in bright places at the edge of the forest near poplars and aspens.
  2. The hat can reach up to 15 cm in diameter. It is gray-brown to black-brown in color.
  3. Pores are tiny and cream, gray or brownish gray in color.
  4. The leg is fleshy and firm. It is covered with gray-black, black-brown scales.
  5. The pulp of the mushroom is fleshy and white. When cut, its color changes to pink, and after a few minutes it turns into shades of gray-purple and gray-black.
  6. Again, it is an excellent edible mushroom that has a wide range of culinary uses.
A mushroom with a fleshy and firm leg lying in the grass under an oak tree.
Source: flickr.com

Cossack oak

  1. It grows from June to September, especially under oaks.
  2. The hat has a yellow, ocher sometimes even brown color with a velvety surface.
  3. The pores are the same color as the hat and turn black when injured.
  4. The leg is massive and yellow with ocher scales.
  5. The pith is soft when young, later fibrous. When cut, the color changes from yellow to pink and later purple.
  6. This is a good edible mushroom, but due to its rare occurrence, it is recommended not to collect it, but rather to protect it.
Little Cossack in the grass.
Source: flickr.com

All types of cossacks are edible .
A possible confusion can occur with the birch quartzite (also an edible mushroom).

How to adjust and prepare cossacks?

Cossacks have been part of our kitchens for many years.

In fresh form, it is recommended to consume only small mushrooms to avoid stomach upset

Most often, these mushrooms are dried because their taste is enhanced, because in the fresh state the taste is really bland and delicate.

In scarier mushrooms, the leg becomes fleshy and firm, while the hat loses this characteristic and is often subject to forest pests.

Therefore, if you decide to prepare older mushrooms, start processing their legs first and only later the cut and cleaned hat.

Canned mushrooms with dill, carrots and onions
Mushrooms fried in butter with herbs
Fresh sautéed mushrooms with radishes and peas
Chicken supreme in mushroom-wine sauce (prepare chicken breasts according to our recipes )
Soup with walnut pesto
Spaghetti bolognese with mushrooms (you can find the best recipes for bolognese sauce here)
Fresh mushrooms cooked in sour cream
Short ribs with dried Cossacks and root vegetables ( you can learn how to prepare delicious ribs in these recipes )
Cream soup with fresh mushrooms.
Source: eatsmarter.com

Mushroom fritters from Cossacks

What will we need

  • 250 g of flour
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 250 ml of chicken stock
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g of grated cheese
  • 200g pickled and drained cossacks (or more if you really like a mushroom base)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Frying oil)


  1. Heat the chicken stock and butter in a small saucepan, when it starts to boil add the flour all at once, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir until the mixture is sticky and a large lump of dough forms
  2. Continue to cook the dough, stirring occasionally, for another 4-5 minutes to make sure the water has evaporated
  3. The dough must be firm, otherwise the recipe will not work if it is too loose
  4. Remove the dough and transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for a few minutes
  5. Then, on low speed, mix in the canned Cossacks, cheese and add the eggs one at a time
  6. Taste a piece of dough and season as needed
  7. Heat the oven to 50 degrees
  8. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep, wide pan
  9. We use two spoons to form balls from the dough and put them in oil and fry them
  10. Fry the mushroom fritters until golden so that they are sufficiently cooked
  11. Then take them out and put them in the oven to keep warm while you fry the rest of the batter.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)