Not something you see every day, a Missouri hunter stumbled upon a “monster mushroom” while out and about in a wooded area earlier this month.
The Missouri Department of Conservation took to its Facebook account to share images of the ginormous fungus. “Check out this massive Chicken of the Woods mushroom Jackson Sifford found while recently hiking in Stone County!” The post reads. “Chicken of the Woods is a layered, fan-shaped fleshy fungus. It grows in overlapping clusters on dead or dying trees, stumps, buried roots, or living trees. Find them through November!”
KansasCity.com also reported that the mushroom can get tough. So it is recommended that those looking for it cut off the tender edges for eating and leave the rest along the tree. “They have the texture of chicken, and with a little imagination can taste like chicken. This fungus can be used as a chicken substitute in casseroles, enchiladas, and more,” officials explained.
However, before those who are picking the mushrooms for a big dish, officials explained that they should try only a small amount for the first time. This is due to some people getting an upset stomach or swollen lips after consumption. It’s also important that the fungus is properly identified before eating.
Missouri Department of Conservation Reveals How to Preserve Mushrooms For Later Use
Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Conservation shares how to preserve mushrooms for later use. The agency revealed that most of the fungus dry. It recommends using a food dehydrator or drying them in a barely warm (135 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit) oven.
“Slicing them into uniformly thin pieces can speed up the process,” the agency writes. “If you’re using an oven, evenly space the mushrooms on ungreased cookie sheets. Turn them occasionally. You can also lay them outside on a screen, or string them so they can hang in the sun.”
It was also noted that in order to prevent decay, it is best to dry mushrooms until they are cracker hard. This means they snap when they are being bent, and when they are not bendable.
Another method that can be used to preserve mushrooms is the sauté and freeze method. This is for fungus that doesn’t dry well. The types that are perfect for this method are chanterelles, hen of the woods, and chicken of the woods.
“After cleaning, sauté them in a little butter, salt, and pepper,” the agency writes. “Add onion, garlic, or shallot for even more flavor — until the water in the mushrooms has evaporated. Let the mushrooms cool, then spoon them into quart-sized freezer zip bags (pushing out all the air) and place in the freezer. Try freezing the bags flat on a cookie sheet; they store well in the freezer that way and will later thaw out quickly.”