Candy caps are considered a choice and highly sought-after edible mushroom, but are not typically consumed as vegetable the way most other edible mushrooms are consumed. Because of the strongly aromatic quality of these mushrooms, they are instead used primarily as a flavoring, much the way vanilla, saffron, or truffles are used. They impart a flavor and aroma to foods that has been compared to maple syrup or curry, but with a much stronger aroma than either of these seasonings. Candy caps are unique among edible mushrooms in that they’re often used in sweet and dessert foods, such as cookies and ice cream. They are also sometimes used to flavor savory dishes that are traditionally prepared with sweet accompaniments, such as pork, and are also sometimes used in place of curry seasoning.
They are usually used in dried form, as the characteristic aroma intensifies greatly upon drying. To use them as a flavoring, the dried mushrooms are either powdered or they are infused into one of liquid ingredients used in the dish, for example, being steeped in hot milk, much the same way whole vanilla beans are.
As a result of these culinary properties, candy caps are highly sought after by many chefs. Lactarius rubidus is commercially gathered and sold in California.