Archive for the ‘Chicken of the woods’ Category

September is when our Wild Fungi Foraging Tours start, we have found lots of edible fungi alot of what we have already found in previous months (see July/August):

Chichester food Fair September 2011

We attend the Chichester food fair and as you can see from the picture below we had lots of fresh Wild fungi we had picked the day before:

Justin & Stu on the stall

Winter Chanterelles & Hedge Hog Fungus, Porcini, Chanterelle, Horn of Plenty.

As the Ceps/Porcini were up we had our first

‘Midnight Cep hunt”

Then Justin went off to the South of France to go carp fishing http://www.paradiselakes.co.uk/index_paradise_lakes.cfm and couldn’t resist a bit of foraging:

Our First Wild Fungi Tour kicked off on September 25th (half day) – very productive !!!

Beefsteak Fungus


Plums and custard

Before we had even left the car park we had beefsteaks in our trugs:

Beefsteak or Ox Tongue – Fistuline hepatica.

Beefsteak Fungus – Bracket 8-25cm across, 2-6cm thick, usually single, tongue-shaped or semicircular, upper surface pinkish to orange-red and finally purple-brown, rough with rudimentary pores.   Moist to tacky.  Flesh thick, succulent; mottled, dark flesh-pink with lighter veining, with bloodlike sap; reminiscent of raw meat. Odor pleasant.  Habitat singly or sometimes several in a cluster on the base of living oaks or chestnuts, also dead hardwood stumps. Season July-October. Edible-good.

We also spotted some plums and custard.

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Preserving Chicken of the Woods

If you do find a chicken of the woods don’t simply rip it off the tree.  This will stop it growing again in future.  However if you cut off a chunk close to the tree new mushroom growth will resume next season.

Chicken of the woods does not keep well as a dried mushroom.  The best way to preserve it is to fry small pieces of Laetiporus sulphureus in butterand then freeze them for up to three months – as follows:

.1) Underside of the Chicken of the Woods.

.2) Top of the Chicken of the Woods

.3) Cut the chicken of the woods into smallish chunks.

.4)Put the pan on the heat.

.5)Roughly about an inch size chunks.

.6)Add a good amount of butter enough to coat all the chunks.

.7)Add the Chicken of the woods to the pan.

.8)Keep turning the chunks to make sure they are coated in butter.

.9)Once the chunks look slightly golden.

.10)Place them in an air tight container suitable for the freezer.

.11)Place lid on and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Brown Birch Bolete – Leccinum scabrum

This is probably the earliest we have found one of these! Usually found near Birch Trees – medium sized brown cap, small grey pores bruising brown, slim white stem covered with tiny brown-black scales denser near the base.

Bilberries – Vaccinium myritillus

Usually found on heaths and moors or woodland.  An erect shrub growing 20-50 cm high with hairless twigs and oval slightly toothed bright green leaves.  Fruits small round and blue-black.

Chicken of the Woods

(See May for details)

We have found some cracking Chicken of the Woods. 3 on one tree!!!

Larch bolete – Suillus grevillei

Larch Bolete – Cap 3–10cm, yellow to chrome becoming flushed rust, shiny when dry. Stem- yellow above the whitish ring and punctate or occasionally netted, flushed cinnamon below. Flesh pale yellow in cap, darker lemon-chrome in the stem. Taste and smell not distinctive. Tubes pale yellow. Pores small, angular, lemon-yellow becoming flushed sienna, bruising rust. Habitat with larch trees. Season late summer to autumn. Common. Edible.

Girolle/Chanterelle  – Canthrellus Cibarius

Girolles – also known as Golden Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the most prized and sought after Wild Mushroom. They taste fantastic and have an apricot aroma. They can be anything from 5mm to 100mm in diameter.  They are available from July to November. They are very versatile whether on their own or in a mixed mushroom dish or with meat or fish. They also give a wonderful colour to sauces and the overall appearance of the dish.  It is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped. On the lower surface, underneath the smooth cap, it has gill-like ridges that run almost all the way down its stipe, which tapers down seamlessly from the cap.

Peppery Bolete – Boletus piperatus

Peppery Bolete – Cap 3–7cm, cinnamon to sienna, at first slightly viscid then dry, smooth and shiny, stem same colour as cap, slender, tapering towards base, where it is a distinctive lemon-chrome. Flesh flushed red above tubes and under cuticle, intensely lemon-chrome in stem base. Taste peppery, smell not distinctive. Tubes cinnamon then rust-coloured, not bruising, decurrent or subdecurrent. Pores angular, rich rust-coloured at maturity.  Habitat variable, particularly in birch scrub or mixed pine and birch on sandy soil. Season late summer to autumn. Occasional. Edible – peppery flavoured.

Charcol burner – Russula cyanoxantha

Charcoal Burner – Cap 5–15cm across, flattening to depressed at the centre, sometimes one colour but usually a mixture, dullish lilac, purplish, wine-coloured, olive, greenish or brownish, firm to hard, greasy when moist, with faint branching veins radiating from centre, half peeling. Stem white, sometimes flushed purple, hard. Flesh white. Taste mild. Gills adnexed to slightly decurrent, whitish to very pale cream, rather narrow, oily to the touch and flexible, not brittle as in most Russulas, forked at times. Habitat under broad-leaved trees. Season summer to late autumn. Very common.

Fairy ring champignon- Marasmius oreades

Fairy Ring Champignon/Fairy Ring Mushroom. – Cap 2–5cm across, convex then flattened with a large broad umbo, tan when moist drying buff tinged with tan at the centre. Stem, whitish to pale buff, tough, rigid. Flesh thick at the centre of the cap, whitish. Smell of fresh sawdust. Gills white then ochre-cream, distant.  Habitat often forming rings in the short grass of pasture or lawns. Season late spring to late autumn. Common. Edible and good.

The Prince – Agaricus augustus

The Prince – Cap 10–20cm across, yellowish-brown covered in chestnut-brown fibrous scales. Stem whitish with small scales below the ring which discolour brownish with age, bruising yellowish; ring white, large and pendulous. Flesh thick and white, becoming tinged reddish with age. Taste mushroomy, smell strongly of bitter almonds. Gills free, white at first then brown.  Habitat in coniferous and deciduous woods. Season late summer to autumn. Uncommon. Edible – good.

Horse Mushroom – Agaricus arvensis

Horse Mushroom – Cap 8–20cm across, ovate at first expanding convex, creamy white yellowing slightly with age or on bruising. Often slightly clavate at the base, concolorous with the cap, the ring is formed of a double membrane, the lower splitting into a star-shape around the stem. Flesh white, thick and firm in the cap, pithy in the stem which tends to become hollow. Taste mushroomy, smell of aniseed. Gills free, white at first then flesh-pink, finally chocolate brown with age.  Habitat amongst grass in pasture or thickets often in rings. Season autumn.  Edible – excellent.

Giant Puffball – Langermannia gigantea


Giant Puffball – body 7–80cm across, not quite round, whitish and leathery, the outer wall breaking away to expose the spore mass, attached to the substrate by a root-like mycelial cord which breaks leaving the fruit body free to roll around and so scatter the millions of spores. Habitat in gardens, pasture and woods. Season summer to autumn. Uncommon but locally frequent. Edible when still white and firm – good.


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Wild garlic – Ransoms/Allium ursinum

The flowers are starting to come up on the garlic now, which will help  with identification The flowers seen as clusters of snow-white, star shaped flowers in spring and early summer, which grow on long stalks above broad, bright green leaves. See February for description for leaves etc.

Flowers can be used as decoration on meals

Garlic flower fritters

  • 250ml milk, or milk and water mixed
  • 110g plain white flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Dried wild garlic flowers.

When using dried flowers re-hydrate in the milk. Lift each flower and allow excess milk to drain off then dry flower on kitchen paper. Whisk the milk, flour and egg together until you have a smooth batter and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Dip each flower into the batter and deep-fry at 220°C until golden brown all over. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot as a garnish.

Water Mint –Mentha aquatica

Common by edges of streams, in damp meadows and woods.  A rough and hairy mint, often grows in large clumps.  Leaves can be tinged with purple and grow in opposed pairs.    Lilac flowers in a round bushy head at top of plant in July-September.  Can be used as if it were garden mint.

Lemon, Mint & Cucumber water

  • 1/4 a cucumber, sliced thin
  • a lemon, sliced thin
  • sprigs of mint
  • 2 quarts water

Add cucumber, lemon and mint in a pitcher. Fill with water. Enjoy!

Wild  Marjoram, Oregano – origanum vulgare

Common in grassy places on chalk and limestone, a slender herb.  The leaves are oval and usually un-toothed, flowers July to October – The flowers are a pale pinkish purple, in bunches at the head of the plant.  Try drying the leaves as the herb becomes sweeter and ideal in home-made bread or rolls!!!!

Wild Strawberries – Fragaria vesca

Widespread and frequent on grassy banks, heaths and open woods.  A low creepy plant with hairy runners and stems.  The leaves are in groups of three, toothed,shiny green, the fruits are small drooping red berries with the seeds protruding in late June to September.  A white 5 petaled flower.

Dryad’s Saddle/ Pheasant back mushroomPolyporus squamosus

This mushroom is commonly attached to dead logs or stumps at one point with a thick stem.  The body can be yellow to brown and has “squamules” or scales on its upper side.  They can be found alone, in clusters of two or three, or forming shelves. Young specimens are soft but toughen with age.  It is particularly common on dead elm.   It is generally not recognized as an edible mushroom unless the specimens are very young and tender. Cookery books dealing with preparation generally recommend gathering these while young, slicing them into small pieces, and cooking them over a low heat.

Chicken of the woods –  Laetiporus sulphureus

Chicken of the Woods also known as the sulphur polypore, is a safe and easily recognized edible mushroom with a soft texture and no gills. The mushroom grows in large brackets – some have been found that weigh over 45 kg, and they can be 5-60 cm across. It is most commonly found on oak trees, though it is also frequently found on yew, cherry wood, sweet chestnut, and willow. You may find this mushroom during the summer and autumn, brightly coloured fungus is typically found in clusters but is occasionally solitary. Chicken of the Woods is leafy in shape and grows in a semi-circular form around tree trunks or stumps. Bright yellow and colourful when young, the Chicken of the Woods begins forming with multiple thick, petals that develop a bright ivory and yellowish-orange colouring on a velvet-like outer skin. It tends to lighten in colour near the edges. This mushroom has no gills, instead its bright yellow undersurface is covered with tiny pores. As it matures, it becomes thinner and speckled with many small dark brown spots that develop into a mixture of tan and off-white shading as the fungus gets lighter in colour and becomes shaped like a wrinkled fan with multiple leafy protrusions. When young, it is thick and juicy with a soft and spongy texture (as seen above), becoming hard and brittle or crumbly as it ages. Chicken of the Woods should be harvested when they are young and tender, as older specimens get more woody and develop a sour flavour. Specimens that are found attached and growing on conifers and eucalyptus or Yew are considered inedible only  Should only be eaten from Oak trees.

Chicken of the Woods Omelette recipe (serves 4)

  • 1 cup diced Chicken of the Woods
  • 1/4 cup shredded cream cheese
  • 2 or 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 or 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan over low heat. Beat the eggs and cream, add salt and pepper to taste and pour into the pan. As the eggs start to cook, sprinkle the Chicken of the Woods, cheese, shallots and parsley over the top. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more until the egg mixture sets. Fold the omelette over and remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 1 minute.

Elderflower – Sambucus nigra

Habitat found in woods, hedgerows and waste places. leaves in group of 5 large dark green and slightly toothed.  Flowers are umbels of numerous tiny creamy white flowers.  Sweet smelling. Reddish black berries August to October

Elder-fizz – pictured above

To make 14 litres/3 gallons you will need:-

  • 10-12 elderflowers heads
  • 2 large lemons, juice and zest
  • 900g/2lbs white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Pick the elderflowers on a sunny day when they are in full bloom and check for any bugs or bits.   Put the sugar into a large jug or bowl and pour over enough hot water to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon juice and zest and the vinegar.  Pour into a sterilised bucket, add the flowerheads and make up the liquid to approximately 14 litres/3 gallons.  Cover with a clean teatowel or lid and leave for three days, stirring occasionally.  Strain the liquid through a muslin-lined sieve into a large jug and then pour into sterilsed bottles and seal tightly.   Store laid on their sides – the drink will be ready in about two weeks when it will be very fizzy!

Marsh Samphire – Salicornia

Also known as Sea Asparagus, it grows in salt marshes and on beaches.  This is a small (about 15cm tall) green succulent herb with a jointed horizontal main stem and erect lateral branches. The leaves are small and scale-like and as such the plant may appear leafless.  The plant makes excellent eating. It is best picked in June and July when the stems are young and succulent. If collecting always wash in sea water before taking home and wash as little as possible in fresh water as the rigidity of the stem is dependent on the salt water within it. This will be leached out if the plant is kept too long in fresh water. When young they can be eaten raw and used thus for salads or garnishes. Otherwise they can be boiled like asparagus for about eight minutes in salted water before being served with salted water.

Samphire with lemon, butter and olive oil

One of the simplest ways to serve samphire, and one of the best. It is also lovely served with fish.

  • 100-200g marsh samphire a head
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small knob butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges

Start by carefully picking over your samphire, removing all the root and any tough stems. Now wash and rinse it thoroughly, to get rid of any grit and sand, and break up larger, multi-branched pieces into their smaller pieces. If you bought (or picked) whole, uprooted plants, you can expect to lose between a quarter and a third of it in the cleaning and trimming.

Bring to the boil a large pan of fresh, salted water, drop in the samphire and cook for three to four minutes. Drain, season with pepper, toss with the butter and a little olive oil, and serve at once, with lemon wedges, alongside a good piece of grilled fish.

Bugle – Ajuga

Bugle is a small, spreading plant that produces a ring of blue flowers on top of each set of leaves.  It has a very dark stem and dark green leaves, often tinged with blackish violet.  It is most often found in semi-shaded, moist conditions but can also feature in sunny damp meadows. Has medicinal uses.

Sea Kale – Crambe maritima

Leaves below: – Flowers to the left: – medium sea kale bottom left: – Young sea kale bottom right:-

Sea-kale is a long-lived perennial plant and established individuals may reach several meters in diameter. The leaves have a thick waxy covering which keeps them waterproof.  First flowering does not generally occur before the plant is at least five years old. Flowering branches covered with small white flowers are produced  from early May to mid-August.  The fruit ripens a few months after flowering and the whole flowering branch including the fruit dries out and generally break off from the plant, a process hastened by strong winds.  At the end of the growing season, the above ground parts of the plant die back and the underground parts alone survive the winter. Each spring, the previous year’s flowering branch produces a succession of cabbage-like leaves. The first leaves are a deep vivid crimson-purple, successive leaves becoming greener.  Being generally restricted to shingle Sea-kale is a rare plant, although it may be locally abundant where it is found.

Sea Kale and butter sauce

  • 225g/8oz unsalted butter
  • 1shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 110g/4oz sea kale (6 pieces)
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Chill the butter and cut into small cubes, keep cold.  Put the shallot, vinegar and water into a frying pan and reduce to 2 tablespoons.  Lower the heat and gradually whisk in the butter piece by piece, slowly.  Add the seasoning and lemon juice.  Cook the sea kale in an asparagus kettle for 3-4 minutes so that it is al dente. Serve.

Sea Beet – vulgaris maritima

Sea Beet forms sprawling clumps on shingle beaches and cliffs as well as other coastal habitats. The leathery leaves are dark green and glossy, and the stems are often reddish. The flower spikes are long and wavy and appear from July to September. The tiny flowers are stalkless and have no petals, but  yellow stamens are visible when the plant is in full flower.
This is the ancestor of the garden beetroot and is also related to spinach.

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