The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Chicken of the woods

Homesteading harvest

As Thoreau might say, I went to the woods in search of leaves for chicken-coop bedding and came home with a bright orange fungus as a bonus.

Okay, so Thoreau's quote doesn't go quite like that. But what can be better than stumbling across a choice edible within my usual stomping grounds?

Chicken of the woods

Laetiporus undersideActually, I always get a little nervous when I bring home a wild mushroom species I've never prepared before. Granted, chicken of the woods is relatively easy to identify due to its bright yellow, gill-less (pored) underside, so it's considered one of the hard-to-kill-yourself-with fungi. On the other hand, even properly identified chicken of the woods can make some people sick, especially if harvested from eucalyptus or conifers. Luckily, our mushroom was sprouting out of the base of a dead red oak and was quite young, making it less likely to irritate allergies.

Chicken of the woods pieces

I sauted up the flesh in oil with a clove of just-harvested garlic and some salt and pepper. Then I teased our palates with just one piece of mushroom on each plate for lunch in case we turned out to be allergic.

There were no negative reactions. Instead, we both found the taste to be extraordinary, like a more richly flavored piece of chicken. I think chicken of the woods just moved to the top of my favorite-mushrooms list!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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