Pigeons are a huge number! Thanks to us, learn to recognize them and process them perfectly

Pigeons are colorful diamonds of the forest!

You certainly know them, but do you know how to recognize the individual species? Do you know how they differ, what their taste and smell are?

In our article, you will learn not only their general identifying features, but also the exact definition of individual varieties.

We will not deprive you of ways to clean, adjust and process yourself. They are really tasty mushrooms with a delicate aroma, prepare them in our recipes!

What is a pigeon?

There are at least 200 species of pigeons in Europe. This family has a large number of different colored caps, which makes their individual identification very difficult. Their coloring is also easily interchangeable with other different types of mushrooms.

Therefore, pay attention to the general definition and description of individual species, which are given below in the article.

What are the general characteristics of pigeons?

  • Mushrooms are commonly found in deciduous forests. They are most often found near beeches and oaks, sometimes around birches. They often thrive in the shade of bushes.
  • They can be found singly or in clusters.
  • Hats generally have a nice round shape and stand out for their bright color. Red, yellow, purple, green, white and gray are common colors and can be found in combinations.
  • The diameter of the hat is around 8 cm and the height is around 6-10 cm.
  • Neither species has leg rings or a skirt.
  • All species have straight strong legs and grow up to 2 cm in diameter and are never thin or hollow.
  • The legs are the color of chalk and can easily be broken like this.
  • The pods are almost always white. If you run your finger over them, they will break, much like sliced almonds, instead of snapping back into place.

How to do a pigeon taste test?

Once you are 100% sure that you have a pigeon, you can do a test to see if it is edible or not. Do it ONLY if you are 100% sure you have a pigeon! Lightly bite into the pulp and leave the chewed bite on the tip of the tongue for about 15 seconds. If you start to feel a burning sensation, a bit like when you eat chili, spit out the bite, the pigeon is not edible . This test will not harm you in any way, even if you perform it with the most poisonous species.

Two types of edible pigeons, red and white.
Source: researchgate.net

Types of edible pigeons

Almond dove

  1. The hat is most often pinkish, but sometimes it can also be found in purple or reddish-brown. There may also be yellow or brown spots on the hoof.
  2. It has fragile cream-colored peels.
  3. The flesh is firm, white, and turns rusty or yellow when cut.
  4. The smell is indistinct and the taste is nutty, a very tasty pigeon.
An almond colored mushroom, found in grass.
Source: svampguiden.com

Greenish dove

  1. The hat is broad and fleshy, occurring in light green, gray green or olive.
  2. The surface of the hat is matte, shiny when wet.
  3. The rinds are thick, creamy white and rusty when old.
  4. The flesh of the leg is white and turns orange when cut.
  5. It has a mild taste with a nutty aroma and is considered one of the tastiest types of pigeons.
A mushroom with a green-blue hat and white scales.
Source: pbs.twimg.com

Blue dove

  1. The color of the hat is very changeable. It occurs from light pink, through shades of blue, purple to olive brown, ocher brown or gray green. There are also yellow-green spots on the hat.
  2. The pods are flexible and white when young.
  3. The pith is white, but also purplish and rustier in cross-section.
  4. The aroma is mild and the taste is nutty. We rank it among the tastiest pigeons, and mushroom crackers, fried foods, sauces and soups are prepared.
A fungus between oak leaves with a dark blue to black hat.
Source: funghiitaliani.it

Grass green dove

  1. The hat can grow up to 10 cm in size and has a green, grey-green color, sometimes with highlights of yellow.
  2. The surface of the hat is dry, shiny and smooth. When it rains, the hat is slimy and sticky.
  3. The rinds are very fragile, at first dirty white and later cream.
  4. The flesh is firm and white. When damage occurs or the fungus is already old, it acquires a rusty or yellow color.
  5. The smell and taste is indistinct. Young mushrooms are ideal for any kind of processing, the slight burning sensation disappears with heat treatment.
A mushroom with a green hat and white edges.
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Pigeon red (strawberry)

  1. The hat is pinkish-red to reddish-brown, usually darker in the center and lighter at the edges.
  2. The peels are fragile, creamy white with an ocher color when they are old.
  3. The leg of the fungus is white and wrinkled, later gray.
  4. The aroma is faintly sweet and fruity and is ideally added to meat mixtures and sauces.
  5. It is a very rare edible mushroom that can be found under beech and oak trees.
Mushrooms with a large reddish-brown hat.
Source: etsy.com

Blackening dove

  1. The hat is whitish when young, later grey-brown to almost black.
  2. The petals are white when young, even black when old.
  3. The leg is smooth white when young, later turns brown. Red and black in cross-section and when injured.
  4. The smell is earthy, the taste is delicate. It is used in the preparation of sauces, soups or fried mushrooms.
An ugly looking mushroom with a black-brown hat and white scales.
Source: flickr.com

So which pigeon is poisonous?

Pigeon thrower

  1. This species has a very bright red hat. As you know red is a well known warning color in nature, so generally stay away from red to be 100% safe.
  2. A taste test will quickly let you know if you have one of the inedible mushrooms.
  3. Vrhavka is considered the most poisonous, but it only makes you sick if you eat it. If you just take a bite, you will feel a very hot taste on your tongue, which will tell you that it is a poisonous species.
An inedible mushroom with a distinctive red hat and white scales.
Source: flic.kr

How to dry pigeons?

Start drying the mushrooms as soon as possible after picking them to prevent them from spoiling.

Clean the mushrooms first, especially if you are going to grind them into a powder and use them as a spice.

  • If you have a dryer, set it to a temperature of 55-65 degrees.
  • If the mushrooms are wet from the rain or warm from being in the car, before you start processing, cooking or cleaning them, spread them out on a baking sheet and immediately cool them in a slightly damp towel. That way, they retain their taste and freshness better.
  • Cut the mushrooms into thin slices so that they dry faster.
  • Slices that are too thick may be stiff after rehydration. Do not dry the mushrooms whole, as they can become very hard.
  • Basically, the thicker the sponge, the more water it holds and the longer it will take to dry. However, it will never take more than 48 hours. In the final stage it would be fragile and brittle.

No dryer

  • Cut the mushrooms into the thinnest slices possible
  • Sliced mushrooms can be strung on a string, then hung and left to air dry outside
  • Hang the mushrooms in a well-ventilated area to dry them faster
  • You can also spread the pigeons on a baking sheet and dry them at a low temperature, around 50-60 degrees, until they are completely dry

After they are dried, they can be ground into a powder that can be added to soups, butters or spreads.


Mushroom flavor is released by cooking. Rehydrate the pigeons for 15-30 minutes.

Dried red pigeon.
Source: amazon.ca

How to process pigeons?

This type of mushroom is very tasty. In general, with its indistinct and mild taste, together with its pleasant aroma, it goes well with many dishes.

To make sure you prepare your pigeons in the best way possible, there are a few main things to keep in mind:

Pigeons are always best cooked a little.
If you want to serve pigeons raw, it is a good idea to peel them first.
You can boil them in salted water for 20 minutes. Or soak them in cold water for a few hours.
Pigeons are very suitable for frying or in baked dishes.
If you are making a soup from them, be careful, because some species release bitterness that you might feel in the soup afterwards.
Pigeons are made into “steaks” in vegetarian dishes. The ones with the bigger hats, which are all grilled, are chosen. It is then seasoned with cumin, rosemary, coriander and onion rings.
Pigeons go well with all kinds of vegetables, sour cream, onions.
Seasoning with dill, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, sage and other spices. They can be used in salads, appetizers and stuffing.

Fry the pigeons in butter or bake them in a baking dish with meat, potatoes, vegetables and cream. Or add them to these baked salmon recipes .

You can also finely chop them and add them to mayonnaise with peeled tomatoes, salad leaves mixed with watercress and served with French dressing. Get inspired by our recipes for arugula salad and prepare a more elaborate version of it!

Green pigeon peas can be peeled, thinly sliced, mixed with watercress leaves and added to French dressing and served with tomato slices.

When baking the pigeons, wash them, dry them and put them skin side up in the oven. Pour enough melted butter over them, add salt and pepper and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pigeons from the oven and add two tablespoons of stock or water to the roasting pan in which they were baked and let the sauce boil. Pour this sauce over the pigeon steaks. This type of mushroom is perfect for meatless recipes like these seven special recipes for vegetarians .

Vegetarian burger with mushroom steak.
Source: quora.com

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! :)