Hen Of The Woods

I don't have any excuse or text to really go with this red-breasted nuthatch, I just thought it was cute, perched in the sun.

So, this morning I went to check on the shaggy mane mushrooms I found yesterday and they were well on their way to be coming an inky cap. Here's an up close shot of the inky:

Check it out, it kind of looks like blood, so that combined with the auto digestion just creeps me out and makes me not want to eat it. However, I took a walk with Non Birding Bill and not far from where we found the sulphur shelf tree, we found:

Hen of the Woods! Super Yummy! Mr. Neil found some last year and asked all of us to keep an eye open while he's been traveling so we could harvest and save it for him. Hen of the Woods is different than Chicken of the Woods (that's sulphur shelf) and as I understand it, gets its name from looking like a fluffed up chicken sitting on the ground. It's also known as maitake which you may find from time to time in grocery stores.

Check it out, mushrooms bigger than my head (now that is big). Usually when you find them, you find several pounds at a time. I called my buddy Stan to do a little bragging and find out what his favorite way is to preserve them. He highly recommended drying them. There was plenty to go around, so I decided to freeze some and to dry some so Mr. Neil could have some options when he gets home.

First thing I had to do was slice them up and make sure to get the bugs and dirt off them. The slices reminded me of coral.

Check out the cool patterns in the stem, kind of reminds me of a geode.

Even NBB couldn't wait to eat the mushrooms. I put some of the slices on a cookie sheet making sure they weren't touching and placed them in the deep freezer. Once they were rock solid, I put them in baggies and left them in the freezer.

Per Stan's instructions, I chopped some of the slices into one inch pieces and put them in the food dehydrator. Stan prefers this method because when you rehydrate them, you end up creating a very rich mushroom broth this is perfect for soups.

By the end of the day the pieces were dry and we placed them in mason jar for later use.

By the end of the day, the inky cap was very black and surprisingly dry. There are more popping up in the yard and in the woods.

Here's the inside of the inky cap, kinda freaky.

And now I realized that I am very tired and must get to sleep if I'm going to wake up in time for banding.