I prefer to simply sauté "hens" in butter and sprinkle lightly with steak seasoning.
• Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are described as “fall” mushrooms, but they can be found as early as late August, and as late as November.
• “Hens” grow best in damp conditions. Although much of Minnesota is currently experiencing a moderate drought, that can change quickly.
• Bur oak savannas are prime locations for finding hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. Look for the large fungi around the bases of living trees.
• To harvest a “hen,” use a long knife to cut the main stem just above the ground.
• If you find a hen-of-the-woods, note the spot because they often grow in the same location year after year.
Brainerd, Minn. – I’ll always remember the first hen-of-the-woods mushroom I found.
My foray afield on that late August afternoon was initially intended to be a deer-scouting effort. More precisely I was scrutinizing the local bur oaks to see if the acorns were ripe and dropping to the ground. As most deer hunters know, acorns are a favorite food of whitetails. During late August and early September one need only to find newly fallen acorns and eventually deer will show up. So will bears, turkeys, squirrels and other woodland wildlife.
When I spotted the first hen-of-the-woods I was initially surprised. I had read about the big woodland mushrooms, but had never actually gone out looking for them. What I remembered was that they were a mushroom that grew during fall. Well, fall was almost a month away.
Unfortunately, my newly discovered hen-of-the-woods was nearly dried up and some parts were covered by what appeared to be mold. My finding though, prompted me to look further.
I recalled reading that “hens” as they are sometime called, grow at the bases of deciduous trees, usually bur oaks. So, during my deer-scouting-turned-to-mushroom hunt I simply ambled from bur oak to bur oak, which greatly narrowed down the search area. Even though the brownish colored fungi are well-camouflaged against the forest floor, it wasn’t long before I discovered a second “hen.”
This specimen was a dandy. I broke loose the dinner plate-sized mushroom from its main stem at ground level. Once home I removed the many spoon-shaped petals from the main stem, washed the pieces under cold water and stored them in the refrigerator.
Hen-of-the-woods are regarded as one of the most preferred mushrooms. Much of the reference material I have read describes “hens” as fall mushrooms, but, at least where I live in central Minnesota, the tasty mushrooms can be found in August, too. Every hen-of the-woods I have discovered grew at the base of a bur oak tree. I’ve discovered cool days following heavy precipitation are the best times to look for “hens.” Bur oak savannas are prime locations.
The hen-of-the-woods mushroom is reasonably easy to identify. To me (and obviously to others) the mushrooms resemble a brown or tan hen chicken sitting on a nest. Thus the name hen-of-the-woods. Some people call the mushrooms “ram’s heads” because, with some imagination, the fungi do look like a brown woolly sheep’s head.
Generally the overall shape of hens-of-the-woods is oval. The mushrooms, unlike toadstools, have many overlapping brown-colored spoon-shaped caps. The interior flesh is white, and the bottoms of the caps are covered with tiny pores instead of gills. The caps grow on short stems and each stem originates from one common, heavy stalk. Although some hens-of-the-woods appear to be attached to the lower trunk of a tree, they actually sprout from the trees’ root system.
“Hens” are large mushrooms. The biggest I have found weighed 8 pounds, but some top 40 or 50 pounds. Most are about the size of a dinner plate.
Luckily, hen-of-the-woods can be easily stored. They can be cut into pieces and frozen without parboiling, or dried for later use.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|Houston||36||2nd Qtr 3:24|
|Milwaukee||39||2nd Qtr 6:44|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|Phoenix||0||2nd Prd 10:34|
|Buffalo||1||2nd Prd 13:12|
|San Jose||1||2nd Prd 13:47|
|Florida||2||1st Prd 2:17|
|Edmonton||0||1st Prd 17:10|
|NY Rangers||0||1st Prd 16:27|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Ohio||67||2nd Half 4:47|
|Penn State||44||2nd Half 5:02|
|Northern Colorado||62||2nd Half 0:36|
|Duquesne||42||2nd Half 6:21|
|Troy||39||2nd Half 15:26|
|UCF||29||2nd Half 17:01|
|DePaul||37||2nd Half 15:47|
|Alabama||32||2nd Half 17:50|
|Miami-Florida||24||2nd Half 17:34|
|Baylor||54||2nd Half 15:47|
|Texas-El Paso||4||1st Half 16:00|
|Savannah State||7:25 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|
|Alabama State||52||2nd Half 5:33|
|Louisiana Tech||37||2nd Half 15:50|
|Southern Ill||0||1st Half 20:00|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?