Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring Chicken Mushroom

As the spring season progresses, we are finding ourselves very busy and out in the woods and fields almost every day. Between jobs, our daughter, her school functions, and other obligations, we try to head out to find our favorite wild foods when we find some time. While May and June are not the best times for mushroom hunting, sometimes we find ourselves a lucky spring chicken (Laetiporus sulphureus), or sulfur shelf mushroom growing from dead wood. While out on our desperate hunt for Connecticut morels, Robert came across a small yellow blob on a dead tree. Really small, only about an inch across, but he still recognized it as an immature chicken mushroom.

Three days later, we went back out to check the progress of the mushroom. Rain does not have too much to do with the progression of this polypore, since it is growing from wood and not the ground. It has been very dry this month, so there is not much else in the way of fungi to be found in the forest. The original small blob had erupted into a colony of soft and wet growing parts, about the length of our arm, along with other growths along the dead tree. There were no shelves yet, so we left it to grow some more.

After seven days total, we went back today to find a beautiful, big chicken. The humidity brought out some small bugs, but they flew away with a burst of breath. The knife cut through the tender flesh of the mushroom easily, and we grabbed about 15 pounds of fresh "meat" from several clusters of shelves. There is not much to clean, just a few small twig inclusions and a bug or two, and now we have several meals planned this week.

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