Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hen of the Woods

Erika called, "Check out the two-foot wide, brain-like fungus under this maple!"  With a bit of research, I identified it as a Hen of the Woods.  Folks who are foolish enough to eat wild mushrooms prize this species, which takes long, slow cooking according to the Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-kitchen Guide. But never, ever take my word as gospel as far as fungus identification goes! Eating wild mushrooms can be fatal! The Hen of the Woods is primarily an eastern fungus, but is found across the country. Look for this species on the ground near tree bases.  Despite our finding it near a maple, the fungus prefers oaks. The name refers to its reputedly tasting like chicken. I ate Hen of the Woods at a Minneapolis restaurant but found it tasted slightly moldy. Other sources say Hen of the Woods gets the name by looking like a crouching grouse.

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