So many questions about the sulphur shelf mushroom that we found on an oak tree while walking out to the hives on Saturday.
Did we really eat it? Yes, and had plenty leftover for storage.
Sulphur shelf is also known as Chicken of the Woods and is one of the "Foolproof Four"--one of four edible mushrooms that you cannot mistake for anything poisonous in North America. Many claim this is a favorite to eat, and though I enjoy sulphur shelf very much, I must say that Hen of the Woods is my favorite thus far (I have yet to sample giant puffball).
Though sulphur shelf can be huge and yield quite a bit of food, the best parts are the tender outer edges. I cut off about an inch of flesh off of each bracket for a few reasons: fewer bugs, more tender and flavorful flesh, it's more likely to keep growing and we can harvest again this summer, and other critters might want to eat it.
Even just taking the edges, I still had an over flowing bowlful of food! This is such a colorful fungus, it's really fun to just take a moment and admire all the beauty of bright orange and sunny yellows, even after you cut into the flesh.
A good sign that you are cutting the fungus at the right time is that will drip after you cut it, this sulphur shelf was dripping like crazy--a good sign for freshness and flavor. We took the pieces inside and Mr. Neil rinsed them in water and filled the bowl with about equal parts water and white vinegar to kill off any bugs still inside. If you ever find chicken of the woods--don't let bugs keep you from trying it--the vinegar trick works GREAT and the flavor is well worth it.
The fates were with us, because the night before, Mr. Neil had roasted a chicken and he saved the carcass. It's a good idea to cook fungus before eating, this makes it easier to digest. We put the carcass, some potatoes, carrots, and a little chicken stock in a pot with some water and added the sulphur shelf--it was a wonderful aroma. The fungus boiled in the broth for about a half hour and we removed three baggies worth for freezing and saved the rest for dinner.
Just from simmering in the chicken broth, the chicken of the woods was most tasty. Even though this is a safe fungus to eat, it's still a good idea to only eat a small amount for your first serving to see how your gastrointestinal tract reacts with it, so we only had a small amount with dinner. When you eat it, you can really feel a chicken like texture in your mouth, but the flavor reminds me somewhat of eggs. We ate the sulphur shelf from the soup, but saved the broth for later.
And speaking of eggs, this morning I sauteed some of the sulphur shelf in butter with some onions and corn tortillas and mixed that with some scrambled eggs. Sort of an extra ingredient to my migas recipe.
For lunch, Mr. Neil took out the soup he started the night before, heated it up and added some eggs--for a sort of egg drop soup. I think this was my favorite way we had the fungus all weekend. It was so meaty and juicy from being in the broth all night. We even had some roasted with marinated chicken breast for dinner and as I type this, more sits in the freezer, and yet even more is growing on the tree--another brand spanking new bracket was found this evening. Now that's what I call a giving tree.
There are several books out there on getting started with wild mushrooms. One I started with was written by my buddy Stan called Start Mushrooming. Another good one is Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America.