Monday, October 14, 2013


My mushroom classes and forays with the mushroom society have taught me to recognize several common mushrooms, but one is always seeking the edible ones, and here I found one in a ground-level hole in a tree, a few "petals" of Chicken of the Woods or Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus), so called because of its bright-yellow underside. This isn't Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa), which looks like an actual hen with gray feathers and no head; years ago I found a glorious 24-ounce Hen in my woods, which I kept for a while out of sheer delight with it, and now I know that one was edible too. The Sulfur Shelf should perhaps be called "Chicken Breast of the Woods," because it has lovely dense white meat, divinely scented like canned mushroom soup.
The pieces you can break off from the shelf-like whole are fresh enough to eat, and I broke off about three ounces, leaving the remainder. Having checked it with my mushroom-identification manuals, and having seen slides and real-life samples in a course and actually obtained some recipes for Chicken of the Woods (always cook wild mushrooms), I was sure this was the choice edible, but was too chicken to take even a sliver, saute it and bite. I left it for wildlife to enjoy.

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