Tuesday, October 25, 2011


When people think of "wild" mushrooms in the Midwest, most think of the Morels that pop up in secluded locations in early spring. There's nothing wrong with Morels but the hunt for them is as fun as the picking and eating.
There's another kind, however, unknown to most, easy to identify and oh-my-golly how much better and versatile than Morels. It goes by many names - hen-of-the-woods, hen and chicks, rams-head, sheepshead, cauliflower and others. Japanese 'shroomers call them Maitaki.

                    Shown here, a typical, volley-ball-sized Hen-of-the Woods.

I once heard Alton Brown describe them as second only to truffles as far as being flavorful.
This was a bumper year. I've had to alter the places and routes I travel on my coyote trap line this year because of the late harvest, but those detours have taken me to new woodlands and I've turned my travels into mushroom hunting expeditions. Success! I've located several new oak trees that shelter these treasures. And, because they are perennials, they'll likely be another one there, next fall.
A big one may weigh 10 pounds or so, a small one is a pound and most are about the size of a volley ball and weigh 4 or 5 pounds.  Another of Alton Brown's quotes is very appropriate - "Good Eats."

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