I have been accustomed to finding mushrooms and fungii in the Spring through Fall seasons but recently this Winter while walking along a creek through the woods I spotted some bright yellow fungus growing along the edge of a fallen log. Having perused a number of books and guides in the past I recognized it as witches butter! I collected some to bring home to verify and taste. Other common names for this fungus include yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, and yellow trembler.
Witches butter is easily recognizable as it is bright yellow to orange in color and is semitransparent with lobes that appear greasy or shiny when damp. It turns out that there are two types of witches butter, one being yellow that grows on fallen hardwood logs with bark and a more orange version that grows on barkless conifers. It is sometimes found during warm spells in Winter and often after a period of rain. Both “jellys” are considered edible and a year round survival food.
There is some debate about edibility while raw or when cooked with proponents on each side of the argument. It is usually best to cook all mushrooms for consumption as it renders them more digestible and brings out nutritive elements. It is considered a delicacy in the cuisine of other countries and is often used in soups, much like it’s cousin “Wood Ear“.
I encourage all aspiring mushroom foragers to locate an expert in your area to positively identify your finds for safety sake and to assist you in learning more about this enjoyable pursuit!