Fall Mushrooms?

I grew up hunting spring mushrooms … the mantra  around here is “May is Morel Month in Michigan.” My grandpa has an eye that’s like a magnet for morels. I did not inherit that part but I did inherent a love of all things nature.

Yesterday I was enjoying my Sunday the only way an introvert can enjoy it … reading, playing a computer game, taking a walk with my dog, brushing my horse, watching a movie. The reverie was broken when a strange car entered the driveway. Two men were inside and hesitantly I approached them. One asked if he could get a mushroom off the property by one of our pastures. I said, “yes” and asked if it was a puffball. (I’ve harvested and eaten puffballs before.) He said, “no, it’s a Hen of the Woods” and he showed me some that he had already collected.

I saw one of the men carrying the mushroom and it was the size of a bushel basket. After they left I went to the gather site and noticed it was under an oak tree. I looked up “hen of the woods” and found that it’s a safe edible mushroom, it’s also know as Maitake Mushroom, and it has medicine properties. According to this website, studies are ongoing into its action against:

  • cancer (especially breast, liver, and lung)
  • diabetes (may control blood glucose levels)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure

I love to learn new things about nature and so I went back to what was left of the mushroom and took some pieces. Time to experiment! I washed the pieces and cooked a small piece up … it’s a good idea to test mushrooms in small amounts to see if you have a reaction to them.  Several hours later, no reaction, so I cooked up the rest of the hen of the woods. I cooked the pieces in butter with steak seasoning and they rival the taste of morels … just delicious. What a perfect surprise addition to a great fall Sunday.  Fall mushrooms, yes!

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