Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa)
After teaching us about choice
Johnny Stanley sent us each home with a big hunk of Hen of the Woods (Grifola
off the ten pound mushroom he had brought as a demonstration. Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A
Field-to-Kitchen Guide points out only two field marks to keep
in mind when identifying Hen of the Woods:
- First, look for sheer size. Hen of the Woods comes in
clusters at least six inches by four inches, and is often much
bigger. The cluster looks a bit like a clump of coral, made up of
pale gray or brown fans with a whitish, pore-dotted underside.
- Next, take a look at the habitat. Hen of the Woods grows on
the ground in the woods, generally at the base of a tree or stump.
only lookalike species are all edible, so even if you confuse a
Cauliflower Mushroom for a Hen of the Woods, there's no harm done.
I cooked up our door
prize as part of a broccoli and mushroom omelet. The stems of the
Hen of the Woods are too tough and have to be discarded, so I just cut
off the fan-shaped caps, tore them into pieces, and sauteed them in a
bit of oil with broccoli florets --- both softened at about the same
speed. Throw in some seasoned eggs, and the result was every bit
as good as our homegrown shiitakes and oysters.
Hen of the Woods is
usually found on or near oak trees and will fruit in the same spot for
several years. Also known as Maitake, the species can be
cultivated at home, but is less dependable than shiitakes and oysters. To grow Hen of the
Woods at home, inoculate a freshly cut oak stump with storebought
spawn, or inoculate oak logs then bury them horizontally so that one
long side of the log is just above the soil surface. Be prepared
to wait 1 to 3 years for fruit.
Looking for something more
dependable? Our homemade chicken
waterer keeps your
backyard chickens well hydrated for days.
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