"Chicken of the woods"?

Colin Davidson cabd2 at biotech.cam.ac.uk
Tue Jun 18 07:06:24 EST 2002

"Bill Walker" <bhw at wam.umd.edu> wrote in message
news:pgpmoose.200206180936.26169 at net.bio.net...
> I was trying to identify a large mushroom growth I found at the base of
> an oak tree.
> The best I can guess after looking through many books and websites, is
> that it is Laetiporus sulphureus, or Polyporus sulphureus: "chicken of
> the woods".
> Whatchy'all think?
> (sorry about the poor scan - I wanted to protect the scanner platen
> glass from the dirt and stuff)
> http://www.wam.umd.edu/~bhw/Mushroom1.jpg
> http://www.wam.umd.edu/~bhw/Mushroom2.jpg

Looks very like it. Do the smell and the taste match the identification?

> How best to store it?  Fridge?  Sliced and dried?

Fridge it for now. Your specimen looks, in my opinion, to be a little old
for drying. When you dry older chicken of the woods, even in thin strips, it
tends to rehydrate poorly. The result can be papery, even woody.

Longer termstorage (more than a day or two) can best be achieved by dicing
it up, cooking it, and freezing it. I personally find that sauteeing with
some onion and adding just a little vegetable stock works quite well. I tend
to defrost a half pound bag when I'm making a chicken stew or curry, and
when cooked it's awfully ahrd to distinguish the meaty bits from the
mushroomy bits. The flavour works really well when used this way.

I've experimented with pickling this mushroom, by cooking in vinegar and
water (50/50) for 15 minutes with peppercorns and some spices, followed by
pouring over with olive oil and sealing tightly. The result is tasty enough,
but I haven't quite figured out a really good way to use it yet.

> How would one go about propagating such a mushroom?  Comprimise the bark
> of the appropriate species tree and stuff some mushroom into it?

Looking in Paul Stamets book "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" I see
that he reccomends inoculating hardwood logs, presumably by using plugs of
fresh material, which would make sense as this species seems to grow most
often on stumps. My own experience of picking this species indicate that it
fruits most heavily on willow, so if you have such wood avilable then that
might work well.

> Also:
> I had collected a bunch of other mushrooms for identification, and
> noticed that there were a bunch of tiny white worms emerging from what I
> tentatively identified as Marasmius oreades, the "fairy ring mushroom".
> (Of course, it could be damn near anything else for I know.  They were
> brown/yellow, gave a brown spore print, grew in a ring in the grass near
> some small planted trees, and had gills broadly attached to the stipe -
> the kind of gills where not all of them are attached to the stipe.
> I'll try to get a scan of the ones I dried out at 37 deg C. )
> Anyway, how do most people 'debug' their mushrooms, either for sample
> preservation or as preparation for eating?

Hehe. Marasmius oreades, if it is that mushroom, is one of my favourites for
eating. It also dries marvellously. When dealing with a great big mushroom
like, say, a penny bun or an agaricus, I might be tempted to cut off any
parts too heavily 'wormy', but when picking the fairy ring champignon (not a
big beasty) of which you speak I normally move on to another ring until I
find some that aren't infested. Here in the U.K. it's so common that if you
find any M. oreades you'll find lots. Some people don't sorry about the
worms and just dry and powder the whole thing, but I don't have the stomach
for that.

You're best picking this mushroom shortly after rain, when the growth is
fresh and there hasn't been long for the maggots to make their mark.

Be -especially- careful with M. oreades until you get the feel for what
you're doing, and even then be cautions. It's not impossible that you could
mis-identify one of the Clitocybe species for it, and your mistake could be

> Thanks for helping a fledgling mycologist/mycophile/mycophage :)

You're welcome! I hope I've been of some small help.

More information about the Mycology mailing list