Foraging for Chicken of the Woods

Foraging for food is becoming the next big thing with folks looking to get away from the grocery store. One things folks can try there hand at is edible mushrooms. (Please do your research, carry a field guide, and ask if your not sure!) We LOVE hunting morels in the the spring time. There is nothing like wandering in the woods and the delight of finding those yummy little gems. In fact this year the oldest country kid found his first one ever!

Recently I walked out, maybe 10 feet from our back door, and was SHOCKED to find a mushroom growing that I had never seen before. It was bright orange and very large. My first thought was “I wonder if we can eat that?” I’m a little strange, I know, but you would not believe the things we have foraged just in our own backyard, mere steps from the house! After calling the family together to gawk in awe of this find, we set to work identifying the mushroom, which turned out to be a Chicken of the Woods.

How do I know we IDed this thing properly? Because there is nothing else that looks like it! With that knowledge in hand, we scampered to the kitchen to figure out how to eat that bad boy. My hubby sliced the mushroom into strips and sauteed it with a little butter and DANG!!!! It tasted like chicken! I kid you not!! If you deep friend that bad boy in batter and told your kids they were eating chicken tenders, they would have no clue it was a mushroom!!

Your curious about them now, aren’t you? You want some for yourself don’t you? Well here is the low down on Chicken of the Woods……..

Chicken of the woods are mostly found from August through October, though we found ours in July.  Chicken of the Woods are VERY noticeable from long distance because of it’s size and very bright colors. These aren’t like morels where you have to keep an eye on the ground. Just gaze off into the forest and they jump out at you!

Chicken of the Woods grows on many types of dead or mature hardwood trees. While they will grow on conifers, everything I have read says to avoid them as they don’t taste good.. These mushrooms grow very fast so don’t be surprised if it wasn’t there the day before! And when you do find them, there is usually a lot. What are you going to do with so much? Dance a happy dance because this mushroom is perfect for freezing!

When you go to freeze your bounty, simply cut the mushroom up into smaller slices or pieces and set them on a cookie sheet in your freezer. Make sure you avoid pointy edges on your pieces so they don’t rip your zip lock bag later. No one likes freezer burned food. Once your pieces are frozen on your cookie sheet, simply bag them up and put them back in the freezer. This method of preserving works wonderful and it is so easy to do. We recently thawed some to make a soup and its texture and taste held up wonderfully.

So how do you cook Chicken of the Woods? Well first off, you want younger mushrooms as they are more tender. If you find an older one, just use the edges. Make sure you clean your mushrooms but don’t soak them as they will absorb like crazy. Once you have them cleaned and cut up, Chicken of the Woods can be sauteed, fried or baked. They can be used as a substitute for chicken in a recipe. They are wonderful in soups as well. My hubby made a curry lentil soup with these that was so good the littlest country kid was licking the bowl! This mushroom is so versatile! Keep in mind, that unless you are frying them (and they are so good deep fried), go easy on the oil as they like to absorb.

I hope by now you are intrigued, possibly drooling, or maybe you are already grabbing your keys and heading to your car, shouting for your family to hurry up so you can head to the woods to find some. I promise you, this mushroom is an amazing culinary experience! And to think, it was right out my back door!

*** NOTE *** While there are no look-a-likes of this mushroom, as with anything, some folks are sensitivity…..just try a small amount at first, wait a few, then chow down!

**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**

32 thoughts on “Foraging for Chicken of the Woods

  1. I have been seeing a lot of article on foraging … I think the thought some people has, if it isn't grown at home, or in a supermarket, they aren't eating it. Which is a shame, because nature offers so many great things to eat.

    1. It was grown at home! LOL Just out my back door! But I so know what you mean. We love going to "find" food.

    2. Growing your own is so much more rewarding anyway … of course I would not consider it foraging if you actually purposely grew it … but you can pretend right? 🙂

    3. Oh I pretend a lot of things LOL Tonight I shall be the queen of my castle… so what if everyone is asleep and the dog is my only subject LOL

  2. Love it! I do a lot of foraging, but not yet mushrooms – just learning about them now. Honestly, I am still afraid to harvest them from the wild. I have learned a lot about them from books, but need to attend some mushroom foraging walks to confirm my ID. With store bought shrooms, I like to sautee in butter with diced potatoes, onions, and fresh herbs. In fact, we are having that for dinner tonight. Pinning this to my mushroom foraging board!

  3. Hi there! I loved reading this post. We do a bit of foraging ourselves, and we do love mushrooms so I'll be on the lookout for this one.
    Thanks so much for sharing and have a great day.

  4. This is so cool! How wonderful to have it just pop up in your backyard! Kinda like manna from heaven. 🙂

    1. LOL It is! Kinda like our black raspberry patch that just appeared one year thanks to the birds!

  5. Stopping by from Thursday Favorites blog hop. So glad I found this! This is so interesting. I am always scared to eat wild mushrooms but after reading this, I will have to try it. A soup sounds delicious 🙂

  6. This was new information!! Thanks for teaching us on the Thursday Blog Hop!!

  7. Thanks for coming and linking up at #The Weekend Social. Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on ! I hope to see you there!
    [email protected]

  8. WOW! I'm going to be watching out for these mushrooms! Thanks for telling us about them on Wildcrafting Wednesday! 🙂

  9. Thanks so much for linking up to Teach Me Tuesday. You are very much appreciated!! Hope to see you again this week!!

    Have a great day!

  10. This was awesome! I had never heard of this type of mushroom before! Thanks for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I can't wait to see what you'll share this week.

  11. This is such an awesome post and I'm hugely jealous that you live in a place where you can find these. I don't live anywhere near any woods, and even in the nearby mountains we only have mostly evergreen trees, so I'm not sure these would be anywhere to be found. They sure are pretty! Thanks for sharing with us on The Yuck Stops Here, I'm always happy when I see your posts! I hope to see you again tomorrow! HUGS

  12. Mindie,
    These sound amazing. I wish I could try them. I will have to see if they grow somewhere in Colorado.
    Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Have a great week.
    Debi @ Adorned From Above

  13. I've never heard of this! Sounds great. Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  14. What a neat looking mushroom! Thanks for the submission to the HomeAcre blog hop. Please stop by and submit another post this week 🙂

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