Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mushroom Time!

Any mushroom hunters out there? Here is the pride of my mushroom hunting career!

This is a Chicken Polypore Mushroom, and I found it (and ate it) in June of 2008. I had seen the same fruiting body (yes, like a piece of fruit or flower, they come back to the same place repeatedly) several years before. I wanted to collect and eat it then, but my husband would not let me, telling me i did not know enough about collecting wild mushrooms. Eventually that year, the enormous colorful fungus was crushed by a 4-Wheeler, and went to waste!

I began gathering research to make SURE i had properly identified this fabulous hard-to-find and highly prized edible so that the NEXT time it popped up, i would be ready. It happened in 2008, as i said, and it was delicious. This gorgeous specimen was approximately 10" across, and took me several weeks to eat (all by myself.) It really did have a little bit of a meaty, chicken-like flavor. Full bodied and wonderful.

The only complaint i had was that it had been growing on the ground on a path. Most of the time, these fungi are hard to find because they grow up in the trees. This one was growing on the root of a White Oak tree, and since it was in the path, as people (or animals or rain) came by, little bits of dirt and leaf litter were tossed up onto the surface of this delicate fruiting body. Because the fungus grows every day, the dirt was encased by edible flesh. Unfortunately, i ended up scraping large areas that were obviously embedded with detrius as i cooked it. I resolved to myself that i would not let this happen next time!

Guess what i saw today while walking the dogs....

Not one, but TWO Chicken Polypore Mushrooms!


These have been growing for several days, but are not ready to harvest yet. There is already a little coating of sand, but i have brushed back the leaf litter. I admit, i saw them yesterday, but did not realize they would grow this quickly. We have had alot of rain (compared to previous years) this year. I had meant to make a protective sheild yesterday, and forgot. Not so today!

I cut a gallon jug in half and made two soft plastic shields.


My son helped me nail the shields in place around the fungi.


This is the bigger of the two mushrooms. As you can see, i had to lift and compress the flesh of the growth a little in order to get this gallon container over it. I did see some brusing on the flesh. I am interested to see what will happen with this one, but as there is a second, i am feeling like it is worth the experiment.


Both mushrooms have little fences around them. I am hoping they will grow taller, and be able to "avoid" the plastic. I also hope that any people or animals walking there will both not step on them, and will not kick up dirt onto the surface. I don't know if it will help with splashing by the rain...it's an experiment!


Now the waiting and watching game. When these turn beautifully orange with a thin white border on the edge, like this one from two years ago, i think they will be ready to eat. It will be interesting to see if my husband will join me in this deliciacy this year...but i don't care! I am ready, willing and very able to eat it all myself.

If you have experience with, or suggestions about this process, please let me know!

If you are interested in hunting, collecting and eating wild mushrooms, please be careful. There is alot of information about it online, but i recommend a good book to carry with you. The book i use is the Smithsonian Handbook of Mushrooms. It has wonderful color pictures, and includes edibility information, including if the mushrooms can be mistaken for inedible (or poisonous) ones.

pamela

4 comments:

My Mother's Garden said...

Pamela, This is such an interesting adventure! That mushroom is really spectacular looking, beautiful actually. I hope your plastic shields work and that you get to enjoy feasting on the mushrooms soon.
~Karrita

Midnightcoiler said...

That's one beautiful mushroom. I want a bite!

Jaci said...

Pamela, that is an amazing mushroom! You are so brave to trust that you have identified it correctly, and I'm so glad you did. Good luck with your protectors this year :)

niftyknits said...

Such a beautiful mushroom - I hope nobody else harvests it before you after your careful attention. Like you I love spotting fungi, but I'm not brave enough or knowledgeable enough to eat them. We saw a magnificent ancient bracket fungus yesterday, so so old it looked almost as if it was made of rock. Naturally I'd forgotten the camera...