Autumn’s Gift: Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

You find them at the base of trees, mainly Oaks.

You find them at the base of trees, mainly Oaks.

We received a terrific surprise today as we drove by one of our (family secret!) known sites for the Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosis).  Two fresh “nests” had appeared, seemingly overnight, no doubt due to the past few rainy days.  This choice edible mushroom occurs in the fall, usually at the base of an oak tree, at least this is true for all three spots we count on.  They return year after year, so we start checking our sites around the middle of September.  A look tells you how it got its name.  The mushroom looks like a fluffy hen, settled down on her nest.  They are not too difficult to clean.  The firm texture means they can be rinsed quickly without absorbing much water, although we have found that most of the soil and leaf debris brushes off.

Hen of the Woods is known as Maitake in Japan and is thought to have medicinal benefits, but we love the rich earthy flavor and firm texture of this mushroom.  Wild mushroom risotto for dinner tonight!


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