The Chicken-Of-The-Woods is so colorful! A friend contacted me with his find so that I was able to photograph it before being harvested. He explained that this mushroom was edible when grown on a hard wood base whereas if it were grown on a conifer it is considered inedible. He also mentioned that a small percent of folks (2-3%) could have gastric difficulties when digesting it so initially it would be a good idea to eat a small prepared portion before consuming more. Fortunately I am not in that category! I sautéed mine in butter and yum!The Puffball mushroom is marvelous to eat! A fresh puffball will be completely white inside, much like a marshmallow. If there is any discoloration inside it is unfit for consumption. My previous finds yielded small ones about the size of ping-pong balls, but after this moist weather I found several puffballs that were about the size of grapefruits! I sautéed these in butter and it was so tender that it melted in my mouth, unlike previous experiences with store-bought mushrooms of other varieties.
These are two of the classic “Foolproof Four” easily identified edible mushrooms as cited in the article “Mushroom Collecting 101” posted by saveourskills.com. This list includes Puffballs, Chicken of the woods, Morel, and Chanterelle. These 4 mushrooms are named because they are very easy to identify and they do not have many poisonous look-a-likes.
I am grateful to have a friend that has experience and expertise in this field. I recommend that you find someone in your area with the same credentials or locate a local mushrooming club to learn more and have a source for positive identification. It is a fascinating and rewarding field of study and I hope to share more of my discoveries in future articles.