Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicken Of The Woods

    L. cincinnatus


Foraging for mushrooms and other wild foods can be very rewarding. Wild foods have basically remained unchanged throughout recent history and therefore retain much of their natural composition or nutriment. One doesn't have to worry...yet anyway....about genetically engineered foods in the wild. Foraged mushrooms are delicious, free, very nutritious, and certain ones can be very medicinal....being used as immune building tonics ,  for cancer prevention, and more.

The mushroom pictured above is called Chicken of the Woods and doesn't seem to be well known for any specific medicinal uses but it is delicious when picked young (tasting something like chicken) and doesn't have any poisonous lookalikes....which is why I picked this for one of my first foraging and culinary adventures. There are two forms of Chicken of the Woods...the L cincinnatus which is pictured above and grows in a rosette...usually near the bottom of a tree and Laetiporus sulphureus which grows in overlapping shelves as in the picture below.

    Laetiporus sulphureus

The Chicken of the Woods, in the second photo directly above ,is a bit too old to eat. As you can see it has lost much of it's deep beautiful orange color and is beginning to dry out and get tough. When young and fresh...this particular variety will be bright orange on top and will have  a very bright yellow (almost fluorescent ) underside, composed of pores, not gills. So...I left this specimen alone and will come back to this tree next year and hopefully find another specimen that is a bit younger.

The Chicken of the Woods specimen at the very top is the one I took home and cooked up. I sliced up and cooked the whole mushroom at once. I then  ate two meals from it fresh and then I froze 2 containers of the same cooked specimen. Here's what it looked like in the pan! Yummmmm!

Chicken of the Woods is great sauteed and added to stir fries or scrambled eggs. It can also be added to soups or stews. After I cooked it in the pan above, it tasted so good that I ate a whole portion right out of the pan.

With Chicken of the Woods it's important to basically know what kind of tree it is growing on. Don't eat any specimens that have been growing on a conifer as some people experience toxicity from mushrooms growing on pine trees. Even though Chicken of the Woods is one of the safest mushrooms to start out with, before you go mushroom hunting it's imperative that you study several different books on the subject to become more aware of how to distinguish between the poisonous and edible mushrooms. So far I have stayed with only the mushrooms that grow on trees or on the roots of trees. Most of these are nonpoisonous ...but again get yourself a couple of good books that  concentrate on a few safe edible mushrooms with few or no poisonous lookalikes.

Several books that I have used and recommend are The Complete Mushroom Hunter: An Illustrated Guide To Finding, Harvesting, And Enjoying Wild Mushrooms By Gary Lincoff, Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada By David Spahr and Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture

The link below has more beautiful photos of Chicken of the Woods
http://www.mushroom-collecting.com/mushroomchickens.html

The video below shows someone hunting for Chicken of the Woods, harvesting the mushrooms and taking it home to cook it.

 


In modern society we have become so far removed from truly natural food sources that we no longer instinctively know what we are supposed to be eating and when or how to properly prepare the food to either rid the food of anti-nutrients and toxins or to increase vitamin and enzyme content (soaking and fermenting). I am gradually learning how to forage for certain foods and medicinals and am finding the whole experience fascinating. In addition to gathering healthy free food, the whole process of hiking in the woods provides us with exercise, fresh air, sunshine and distances us from the more concentrated  artificial electromagnetic frequencies that are so rife in our environment.

In the near future I am planning to post information on growing your own mushrooms on logs outdoors. Chicken of the Woods is one type that can be grown from plug spawn. I am currently growing Shiitake mushrooms which are purported to be very medicinal and are also delicious and easy to grow. So...more about that at a later date.

For those of you who don't have access to wild mushrooms, don't have the time...or you may just want to try out these healthy culinary delights before further experimentation, you might want to visit Mountain Rose Herbs. Under the category of herbs and spices, look up Maitake, Shiitake, and Chaga mushrooms and read about their benefits by clicking on the information buttons included with each type of mushroom. These three dried mushrooms are very medicinal. Many people buy them in their supplement or pill form but I feel that the whole food is more economical and healthier....and you're getting real food...not just powder in a pill. The whole food fills you up and it's delicious!

I feel that if you like the idea of storing a bit of food, that dried mushrooms are a great prospect. I have a medium size galvanized pail down in my basement filled with 5 lbs of maitake mushrooms, enclosed in the original plastic bag they came in. Whenever I want some mushrooms to add to my soups, stews, casseroles, or scrambled eggs, I just go down cellar, take some out of the bag, reclose it well and put the pail cover back on, soak the dried mushrooms in water for half an hour to an hour (depending on the variety) and then add it to my recipe.It's been a year and a half since I bought them and they are still in great shape.Ordering 5 lbs of dried mushrooms provided more mushrooms than I expected. They are light when dry. It is much cheaper buying these dried mushrooms in bulk rather than buying small amounts in the grocery store. Mountain Rose herbs gives a 10% discount if you buy 5 or more pounds of herbs...in any combination. Mushrooms are listed under herbs and spices. This helps to pay for a little of the shipping.

So....I am learning to grow and forage my own mushrooms but in the meantime I am supplementing my stock with bought dried mushrooms. I became affiliated with Mountain Rose Herbs after buying from them for several years. I have never had any problems and their products...so far.... have always been fresh.

 
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

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