wild food foraging


“Chicken of the woods” (Laetiporus sulphureus)

Chattahoochee national Forest
September 21st 2015

There are generally two types of Chicken Of The Woods. One that has yellow pores and one that has white pores. We generally find the white pore variety close to the ground where the old trunk or roots of a decaying tree still remain. The yellow poor variety is usually found growing on the trunk of a dead or dying tree. Personally we prefer the white variety because it seems to be a little thicker which makes it slightly better when cooked. We have posted photos of both white and yellow variety. But regardless of what variety you find it is a tasty edible! The texture is really like chicken meat. If one were to slice the mushroom thick, sauté them in a pan with butter and chicken stock, one would easily believe that they are eating chicken. It’s great in a roast or a stirfry too.
It’s exciting when finding this mushroom because it pops out of the forest with its bright orange and yellow color. It’s beautiful and is supple to the touch. Here in the Southeast, we wait until the temperatures change, the leaves begin to turn, and have had about a week of rain. We keep an eye out when hiking or when driving the gravel roads in the mountains we keep our eyes peeled and take it slow.
We consider the Chicken Of The Woods mushroom in the top five safe mushrooms for beginners to forage. Always consult an expert before consuming wild mushrooms. Below is a link to further reading on this mushroom.

Chicken Of The Woods Wikipedia link:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laetiporus

We hope this post finds you doing well!



Day 218: Backyard Salad

I have to say, I love Fall in the Ozarks where it’s normally warm enough still to be able to go out and pick some tasty greens from the backyard. Those pictured above are a batch I threw in a beef stew for some added nutrients, but most of the greens I pick can be eaten raw as well. 

Be cautious about where you pick your greens. Only gather from areas where no pesticides or herbicides are used. Avoid gathering from areas with a lot of vehicle traffic. Avoid gathering from sidewalks or near asphalt. Wash all foliage thoroughly before eating.  

Here are some of my favorites that can be picked in the Spring and Fall. Maybe you have some growing around you as well?

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) greens are a great year-round green, packed full of nutrients and vitamins. I usually pull them up whole because I also use the root, but you can also just harvest the tender greens and flowers. The smaller the leaf the lighter the flavor. Dandelions are known to be very bitter so mixing them with other wild edibles is suggested. 

Plantain, both the common (Plantago major) and the ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) varieties are great to eat and much like other greens are packed with vitamins and nutrients. The leaves can be eaten raw when small and tender but should be cooked with other greens when they are more mature. I usually harvest plantain like I do dandelions, root and all. 

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) are both very common backyard edibles that are normally found in the Spring, but can be gathered in the Fall as well, although they’re not likely to be blooming so know what the leaves look like. I’ve paired these two together because they are so often mistaken for each other, although if you study the photos below you’ll be able to distinguish the two without a problem. Henbit can be eaten raw, but dead nettle tends to be a little bitter and fuzzy, so cooking is recommended.  

Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) is most often found in the Spring, but occasionally pops up in the Fall and early winter. It’s an excellent salad or cooking green that’s high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Violets (Viola) are another mostly forgotten potherb and salad green. There are many varieties, the ones growing in my yard have bluish-purple flowers that are without scent but still tasty. There’s also a few varieities that have very fragrant flowers that make a wonderful tea. The flowers and leaves are both wonderful eaten raw or cooked with other greens. Be aware, the root of the violet is a laxative and emetic, and the leaves of the yellow violet when eaten in a large quantity can be a laxative as well. 

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is sometimes hard to identify, but look up some photos on google and you should be able to get it down. It’s generally considered a weed (like all of these edibles) and is often found coming up out of cracks in the sidewalk. It is a mild green that can be eaten raw in salads. 

In Celtic Ireland, not only were wild boars and sows held in high esteem, but so were domestic pigs; and the swineherds who tended them were credited with magical powers. Their herds of swine would have been semi-wild, foraging for food in the forests of kings; the herders were thus semi-wild themselves and imbued with the woodland’s magic. The Táin Bó Cúailnge and other ancient texts tell stories of swineherds who battle each other in contests of magic, or who utter prophesies at key moments in the lives of heroes and kings.


Propagating a Wild Oyster Mushroom Specimen

The Christmas of 2015 was incredibly warm and wet in Northeastern US. We decided to go on a casual drive around the neighborhood when suddenly my fungal senses started tingling. From the corner of my eye, I saw a cluster of engorged of oyster mushrooms their elegance on a decaying (Dutch?) elm by the roadside. We haven’t found a hull of shrooms this amazing since the chicken-of-the-woods find on one of our fishing trips. I know the photo might not look impressive, but I swear to you there’s at least 5 pounds.

Since we found these shrooms by a high traffic road side, I’m a little paranoid and uncomfortable eating this immediately due to the unknown runoff pollution that might have been absorbed by the wood. I’ve never propagated a wild culture before so I took a small sample to cultivate the mycelium and grow more shrooms like I did with my coffee grind experiments last winter. So far so good…the mycelium is happily colonizing the card board. (Gosh I wish I had a setup to colonize a gel plate, but no time or funds at the moment!)


PS. - I’ve said this a bajillion times on this blog already, but DO NOT put any shrooms or foraged food into your mouths or hands unless you are confident in identifying and preparing the food. DO use good judgment and take personal responsibility for your own actions.

Herb Gathering

The red clover was a no-brainer, so easy to find, and it makes for good tea.  However, I have never known a thing about elderflower, and yet, after some online research, and a little luck.  I found some.  I will only pick a little and will do so the day I leave, but oh, I am excited to learn about the plants.  It has also come in handy with all the rain and clouds that have not stopped me from looking for birds, but does not make for the best photographs.  Here is the lovely elderflower ~