Urban Foraging for Chicken of the Woods

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We ate a tree fungus for dinner a few nights ago. It may sound strange, but it was delicious! A friend brought over a large bag full of Laetiporus sulphureus the other night. It’s a mushroom that is commonly known as Chicken of the Woods or the chicken mushroom.

Apparently the growing conditions for Chicken of the Woods were ideal this year. I’d never tried it, but our friend assured us that she had tried it the previous night and suffered no ill effects, so we were game.

Chicken of the Woods grows on hardwood trees. It grows in layers, is orange/white in color, and can be as big as 10 inches across and weigh as much as 50 pounds. It dies back in winter but usually grows back in the same place every year. It should be harvested before it gets too old, as it can get tough.

It must be cooked before eating, and can be prepared much like chicken. Jim cleaned it carefully and cut out sections that appeared older. We sautéed it in oil (you can also use wine) and had it with salsa on a tortilla. It was delicious! Chicken of the Woods can be frozen without losing its texture, so we cleaned up the rest and now have a gallon bag full in the freezer for winter.

We love urban foraging, and I’m happy to report that our friend found this batch of Chicken of the Woods in an urban area. We grow nearly all of our own vegetables, but we haven’t really had a homegrown protein source, until now. Chicken of the Woods is high in protein and makes a nice meat substitute. Since trying it we’ve been on the lookout as we walk and drive around the city, looking for more!