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Tastes like chicken

| 30 Aug 2016 | 04:23

CHICKEN OF THE woods is an easily identifiable and safe mushroom to start your mushroom seeking adventure. It’s amazing in a stir fry, baked, breaded and fried, or sautéed. The texture is similar to its namesake’s, and it can be a good replacement in any recipe that calls for chicken.

This mushroom has yellow pores on its underside. The pore surface, as opposed to gills, is a telling characteristic. One of the main factors in safely identifying this mushroom against other bright orange mushrooms is that it grows directly on wood. This means that when you find it, you should look to see that it is orange and fan shaped, has a porous underside, and is growing out of wood directly. Otherwise, it can be one of many other mushrooms, some of which can be poisonous.

Ethical and sustainable harvesting of all mushrooms is important, and although there is some debate amongst mycologists, it is generally recommended to remove the tender part of the mushrooms with either a knife, or by hand, and in the case of chicken of the woods, by breaking off the fans, but not necessarily removing the entire base. Often on chicken of the woods everything but the fans are very woody and inedible; while these parts can be used for stock, the real gem is in the soft succulent tips, which break off like a cooked piece of white meat chicken.

One main issue in their edibility is people harvesting it once the mushroom is dried out. In most climates without high humidity, you really only get three to four days after the rains to get fresh mushrooms. After that, mushrooms quickly become bug hotels. This may be one of the reasons a select few people can get digestive upset eating this mushroom. This is easily avoided by eating a small amount to see first how you’ll react to it, and this is especially important for children. Look for the mushrooms on downed oak and maple as the bark peels off.

Recent research has also shown that chicken of the woods is medicinal and is active against staph. DAN DE LION