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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Foraging is a skill I am actively working to develop. Every week I pick a new edible to learn about and gather notes on. I thought I would share my notes so others may benefit as well.

Standard Disclaimer: I am not a trained foraging professional nor are the people who operate this forum. If you choose to forage it is something you do so at your own risk. Do not eat anything unless you are 100% sure you've correctly identified what you have as a safe edible. Always use a variety of reputable sources when identifying plants/fungi. Just like the foods at the grocery store can cause allergic reactions, wild foods can do the same. It's best to try new foods a sliver at a time to check for allergic reactions.

CHICKEN OF THE WOODS
Alternate Names: Sulphur Shelf Polyporus sulphureus, Laetiporus sulphureus
Botany Natural environment Mushroom Ingredient Polyporales

(Photo Credit: Eat Maine Mushrooms: Mushrooms on the Maine Coast)

I chose this wild mushroom as my first study because it's common in so many regions of North America and has no poisonous lookalikes. This mushroom was named 'chicken of the woods' because, you guessed it, some people think it has a taste and consistency that is similar to chicken. Others argue it tastes a little like buttery lobster. There is a west coast version of this mushroom and an east coast version, all in all there are 12 different species of this mushroom.

Many people who won't eat wild mushrooms because of the risks involved, will still eat a wild chicken of the woods mushroom because of how distinct and easily identifiable it is. It is an all around good mushroom for beginners to forage and identify.

This mushroom forms on dead or dying trees/trunks and forms large sulphur-yellow to orange-ish brackets/shelves. The underside consists of minute holes/pores/spores. NO gills should be present on this mushroom (many of the deadly mushrooms have gills on them).

Chicken of the Woods is best foraged off hardwood trees. Avoid this mushroom if it grows on an eucalyptus and other soft wood trees as it can cause digestive upset in humans. It is also generally recommended that these mushrooms not be foraged out of brackish water situations as it will impact taste, texture, usability in cooking. As with any wild edible, individual allergies/upset can occur. When trying it for the first time it's best to do so in a sliver, in case of allergy or digestive upset. Also avoid consuming alcohol when eating chicken of the woods as it can cause digestive upset as well.

Peak Season: September and October

Tips for foraging: Tuck a canvas sack in your foraging basket to carry these mushrooms home in. Chicken of the Woods often forms in really large shelves and they will fit easily inside a canvas sack. Also, mark your maps where you found these mushrooms in the past because they will often reoccur year after year in the same areas. The specific timing of the bloom can vary by as much as a month, so be sure to check back frequently. When the mushrooms develop, they mature within a day or so, so check back frequently. The outer 2-inches around the tip of the mushroom tend to be the most tender and are the best part to consume in fritters or stir fry. Most people will either toss the rest of the mushroom n the bin or if tender enough, tuck it in a stew.

Nutrition: The chicken of the woods mushroom is a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and other minerals.

Recipes:
Laetiporus with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic on a Bed of Wild Rice
Chicken (of the Woods) Noodle Soup
Chicken of the Woods with Mussels (Yum!)


Preservation:
Does not keep well. Some say it's best to clean them up, fry them and then immediately freeze any extra. It does not keep well as a dried mushroom. Some suggest they can be preserved using traditional canning methods; however, I was unable to locate reputable instructions on this. I did find this: http://www.bukisa.com/articles/367635_how-to-can-mushrooms

Videos:

Sources:
Foraging New England - Tom Seymour - pages 71-72.
Edible Wild Plants - Lee Allen Peterson - page 238.
Wikipedia - Laetiporus - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laetiporus.
MushroomExpert.com - http://www.mushroomexpert.com/laetiporus_sulphureus.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
LOL!!! Me too!!!

And, again, I won't forage a mushroom unless there is no poisonous lookalike. Any mushroom with gills on the underside, I just assume it's poisonous. It's not worth the risk, especially in a SHTF situation. There's only a couple other mushrooms that fall into the no toxic lookalike category and I plan to post about them down the road. They are hen of the woods and oyster mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus), Some would argue morels are fairly safe too, but there is a toxic lookalike, gyromitra esculenta, the false morel, so I avoid morels too.

I am planning to take a class with these folks at some point: Foraging | Maine Primitive Skills School
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think it's a different philosophy up where I live. Maine is probably the most polite state in the country and people are friendly here. Strangers talk to each other and share knowledge all the time. I live on a lake and when we're out on the boat fishing, other people come right up beside our boat and we talk about the hot spots and what bait we're using. Obviously there's some stuff I don't share with others, like my super secret fishing holes. Other than that I share away. I figure the more educated people are, the less destructive they tend to behave out in the woods or on the water.
 

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Great post preppermama..
Missus Whoppo and I were poking around the Evan's Notch area off rte 113 (north of Fryeburg) last month and hit the 'shroom lotto... Chicken of the Woods and Various Oyster 'shrooms a plenty. Nom-nom-nom-nom.

There are some great field guides available for identifying 'shroom and other edible plants... everyone's kit should include these!
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great post preppermama..
Missus Whoppo and I were poking around the Evan's Notch area off rte 113 (north of Fryeburg) last month and hit the 'shroom lotto... Chicken of the Woods and Various Oyster 'shrooms a plenty. Nom-nom-nom-nom.

There are some great field guides available for identifying 'shroom and other edible plants... everyone's kit should include these!
I've been out in that area before Whoppo. I also enjoy Grafton Notch quite a bit. Hiking trips are a great time to practice foraging skills, even if you just spend time identifying things and don't actually bring stuff home.
 
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