Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hen Party

It being fall, the hen of the woods mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is on my mind. The best place to find these mushrooms is growing on a tree on which you have previously found them- they tend to recur, as the edible portions of the fungus are merely the fruiting bodies of a largely underground organism. I have staked out a few trees on which I have found hens. In a bit of counterintuitive thinking, I begin my search for new hen of the woods sources by looking up- the fungi tend to be found on oak trees, so if you find the tree you might find the mushroom. I did, though, find a small one growing on a moribund (now lopped) maple tree right in front of my house, seen on the right hand side of this photo:

I did not identify the fungus on the right hand side...

I hit paydirt while visiting an ancient oak tree at one of my worksites. This picture, taken last week, shows some of the seven fruiting bodies clustered around the tree like a hen of the woods party:

The fruiting bodies have subsequently gotten bigger, and I harvested the largest one last Friday, using a long, sharp knife to cut 'florets' off of the tougher 'stem' attached to the tree roots. Sauteed in a little olive oil, a portion of what I harvested made a nice meal, accompanied by a nice, crusty baguette. There's more left in the kitchen, and six additional fruiting bodies to lop off of the tree.

I have found an additional small 'hen' on a tree at my principle workplace, but it's not yet big enough to grab. The search goes on, as I look up to the canopy to find oak leaves and look down to find fallen acorns. The hens are out there, they have no poisonous lookalikes, and they are choice. This fall, I am throwing a hen party.

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