Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) mushroom hunting
The Hen of the Woods mushroom (Grifola frondosa), also known as Maitake in Japan, is typically found in September/October at the end of mushroom season. (Photo via www.theforagerpress.com) However, GardenSnob staff found some last weekend in Lincoln, MA and in Temple, NH! This is a delicious mushroom that can be used the same way you would use a white button mushroom. It has a nice, woodsy flavor but doesn't overpower anything. Finding one will make you feel like you won the lottery. They might be 20-30 or even up to 50 lbs each! Hen of the Woods freeze extremely well and can last up to two years if the freezer stays around 0 degrees. Just clean and cut into pieces or strips and freeze in ziplock bags. If you're feeling entrepreneurial, try selling some to a boutique food or cheese store near a city. One upscale cheese place in Cambridge is selling them for $28/lb. Here's a recipe for a two hen salad from "Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America" by David W. Fischer and Alan E. Bessette:
Hen of the Woods Salad
3 green onion with tops, chopped
1 small tomato, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
8 ounces Hen of the Woods, chopped
1 Lb. Cooked, skinned, boned chicken
2 slices crisp cook bacon
2 Tbsps red wine
½ cup peanuts or pine nuts
Saute onion and tomato in oil and butter until onion is soft. Add mushrooms and cook 4 minutes more. Add large chunks of chicken and remaining ingredients to mushroom mixture and cook a few more minutes. Allow to cool. Add a favorite salad dressing and chill. Serve over a bed of lettuce or on avocado halves. Serves 2 to 4.
You could make it a three hen salad by adding chunks of tuna, the chicken of the sea. We know that was silly but sometimes things get a little slap happy at GardenSnob. To help you identify edible mushrooms, please read, re-read, and carry with you a reliable reference book with photos. "Mushrooming Without Fear" by Alexander Schwab, is an excellent guide with lots of pictures and a color bar for each type of mushroom. For the Hen of the Woods entry alone there are 12 photos. This book is available at Amazon for $11.21. Happy Hunting!
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Posted by Mary Ellen at July 4, 2008 6:20 AM