Mushrooms have been a staple in lots of different dishes for a very long time. There is a big divide when it comes to mushrooms though… you either love them or you hate them!
Though lots of mushrooms are pretty dangerous and can be life-threatening, there are many more edible mushrooms out there than you might think. From portobello to chanterelles, you just have to know where to look.
One popular edible mushroom is actually called “Chicken of the Wood” but what exactly does it taste like? We’ll be going over everything you need to know about these wonderful mushrooms right here!
What Is Chicken Of The Wood?
So if you’re new to the world of mushrooms, you’re probably wondering what an earth Chicken of the Wood actually is.
It sounds like it should be a type of chicken that is completely native to the forest, but it’s actually a type of fungi that is edible. This particular type of mushroom is found on the bark of trees.
They actually go by a lot of other names, some of which include Crab of the Woods, Sulphur Shelf, Sulphur Polypore, and Mushroom Chicken.
There is another type of mushroom called Hen of the Woods that is similar but be careful not to get them confused.
They are bright in yellow and orange colors and they are usually found growing on dying or dead trees.
What Does Chicken Of The Wood Taste Like?
Chicken of the Wood actually gets its name from its chicken-like taste and texture.
Once they are cooked, they can taste quite meaty and they are actually a really popular choice for vegetarians and vegans when they are looking for the perfect meat substitute.
Some people say Chicken of the Wood actually has a bit of a lemony taste too, and it even tastes a bit like lobster or crab rather than chicken.
Regardless of if you think this popular mushroom tastes like chicken, lobster, or crab, you can be sure that Chicken of the Wood is absolutely delicious!
It’s such a popular editable mushroom because of its taste and accessibility. It’s actually one of the easiest mushrooms to wild forage.
How To Identify Chicken Of The Wood
Chicken of the Wood is a great mushroom to go out foraging and identifying because it’s one of the easier ones to work out. It is a great mushroom for beginner foragers.
However, before we get into how you identify one, it’s really important for you to know that if you have any doubts at all, leave the mushroom alone.
Always take someone more experienced out foraging with you, and don’t rely solely on the internet for information regarding the mushrooms.
If you aren’t sure about a mushroom, take a picture of it and leave the actual mushroom where it is. Once you get home, use the picture to find out what it is.
If it is the right mushroom, you can always go back the next day!
The only place Chicken of the Wood is found is on the bark of dead or dying trees. You’ll never find them growing on the ground or in any fields.
They are most commonly found on oak trees, but it’s not uncommon to find them on other hardwood trees, such as cherry trees or beach trees.
They don’t grow exclusively in forests either, you can find them in parks, on hillsides, on trails… you can find them practically everywhere.
It’s all about the tree rather than the location.
Like most mushrooms, Chicken of the Wood is usually found between late September to mid-November. However, you will sometimes find them as early as June.
It really depends on the climate and weather in your specific location, but use these months as your guideline.
One great thing about Chicken of the Wood is that once you find a spot where they are growing, they will continue to grow in that spot year after year.
The mycelium of the Chicken of the Woods grows in and on the tree all year round. The only downside about this is that if the weather isn’t right for mushrooms one year, they may not fruit very well.
The color of the outside cap will range from a bright white-yellow to a bright white-orange.
As the mushroom gets older, the brightness of the color will fade and the flesh itself will become harder and more crumbly.
Chicken of the Wood doesn’t really have a stem, so if you’re looking for one and you can’t find it, this is why. The caps themselves grow in large brackets and each is described as an “individual shelf”.
These individual shelves can range in size, anywhere between 2 to 10 inches across.
The brackets of the Chicken of the Wood are roughly fan-shaped and they can range from being lightly wrinkled to smooth.
They grow on top of each other in an overlapping pattern, so they can be quite large and abundant.
How To Cook Chicken Of The Wood
If you are successful in foraging for Chicken of the Wood and you are 100% sure that they are the real thing, then you’ll probably want to know how to cook them correctly.
Before you cook them, make sure that you wash them thoroughly.
You can eat Chicken of the Wood in a lot of different ways. Soups work especially well, but they are so versatile that the way you cook them is entirely up to you.
Because Chicken of the Wood is usually used as an actual chicken substitute, you work especially well for any chicken recipe.
All you have to do is follow the recipe as you would normally, but replace the meat with the Chicken of the Wood.
Many people agree that Chicken of the Wood has a lemony flavor, so this means they pair really well with herbs such as cilantro. Adding herbs like this will really compliment and bring out the flavor of the mushroom.
You can cook Chicken of the Wood in so many different ways. You can saute them, grill them, fry them, or even bake them.
Once you learn how to cook Chicken of the Wood in a way that you like, you will end up using them in your recipes again and again.
So if you were curious about if Chicken of the Wood tastes good, we can assure you that it really does! It is a very versatile mushroom that is loved by so many people, and it makes for the perfect meat substitute.
Try some for yourself and see how delicious it truly is!