Chicken of the Woods

by Susan on September 27, 2010

The other morning, I was hiking in the woods with Sadie and Skyler. All around me were these bright orange mushrooms, lighting up the woods. They were beautiful, and since I know nothing about distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous ones, I decided that I would come back the next day and take some pictures.

I got home and headed off to the Mill City Farmer’s Market where to my surprise, there was a mushroom vendor selling the same kind of orange mushrooms I had just seen in the woods! I found out that they were called “Chicken in the Woods” and were actually supposed to taste like chicken! All I knew was that the woods I hiked in were full of them!

The next morning, I started out, so excited to find these amazing mushrooms. Since they are supposed to freeze well, I thought I would gather a few. As I walked along the path, there was not a mushroom to be found. Someone had beat me to it. I finished the hike and went home empty handed.

Yesterday, the dogs and I decided to take a different path. As we came up a hill, I looked off to the left and in the distance, shining like an orange beacon, was a whole tree, full of these beautiful mushrooms. I let them be and today when we went back to check, they were still there!

I harvested a few and brought them home. I have not decided what to do with them yet (you can also dye wool with them) but I can assure you that my mushroom expert friend will have a look before they go in my mouth!

Tomorrow we are going to be talking about the benefits of coconut oil, and I have a wonderful recipe for fresh mint, cacao macaroons!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

leah September 27, 2010 at 8:02 pm

you’re a lucky lady, as that is one tasty fungus (and fortunately doesn’t look like any poisonous varieties). in my vegan-but-not-raw days i had some chicken of the woods at an environmental centre when someone brought it back from a hike. they sauteed it and if i hadn’t seen the mushroom cut and cooked, i would’ve sworn i was eating chicken (and although i never liked meat, this was juicy and decadent).

enjoy!

llmisher September 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

What region of the country can these mushrooms be found?

Susan September 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

They are most popular in the North West but I am in Minnesota. I have also heard of them growing in Hawaii.

Dot D. September 28, 2010 at 10:35 am

How adorable are these?! Look just like chickens. BTW, would you know if there is a fungus such as candida that we can get from eating mushrooms (a fungus, too)?

Susan September 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

My research indicates that the answer is no but I am not a nutritionist or a physician. If you have a health concern, you should ask your doctor.

Faith Lubitz September 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

so Susan, I suppose you could marinate these for a lovely un-chicken raw dish…?

Susan September 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Honestly? These will go in the 10% category and get cooked. They are wild mushrooms, I don’t want to take any chances. :-)

bitt September 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I’m pretty sure I’ve had these. We have a wild edible guy who does all the harvesting and brings them to the farmer’s market here in seattle. I wish grocery stores had more variety in mushrooms–there are so many out there!

bitt September 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm

And just saw the other comment…Once I stupidly ate some mushrooms raw that you are supposed to cook (they were morrel). It was dumb and I didn’t get sick but you are smart to cook them to be safe!

Joanna Rawvelous September 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

Yes, these look just like the ones that I was telling you I made a raw chicken soup out of. I did not cook them and they were great :D See what your expert says, but I’m fairly sure he’s gonna say they are fine to eat. What a find this is! I hope the tree stays your little secret ;p

JOanna

Catherine September 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

When harvesting these mushrooms, you don’t want to remove the whole fungus from the tree. Shave the mushroom, leaving about an inch of growth (or more) attached to the tree and the mushroom will keep growing for future harvests.

Branda October 5, 2010 at 6:31 am

This is facsinating. The photos kinda remind of Lobster Mushrooms. I’m told the ‘lobsters’ are suppose to have a seafood aroma when cooked. Since I don’t like fishy aromas, I’ve never tried them.

If these ‘chickens’ turn out to be safe for eating (and delicious), perhaps there’s some way to collect the spores and grow them at home. I’ve seen mushroom kits that folks can purchase, but I’ve never attempted such a project. It’s been on my growing to-do list for a few years.

I didn’t know you could freeze mushrooms. I’ve only seen them dried. Good to know :)

Vanessa March 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

My uncle introduced us to this mushroom last year and sent me home with enough for a few meals. I chopped it, blanched it, then froze it. Today I just made a cherry ‘chicken’ salad with them. So I really hope they are okay to eat without being extremely cooked! :)

Susan March 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Let me know!!

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