top of page

5 Wild Edible Mushrooms & Recipes

“Mushrooms were the roses in the garden of that unseen world, because the real mushroom plant was underground. The parts you could see - what most people called a mushroom - was just a brief apparition. A cloud flower.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood



Wild mushrooms are magical and wondrous forest beings. Not only do they indicate the vitality of a forest, they are great sources of food, protein, and medicine. Foraging for edible foods, including wild mushrooms, is a skill I find empowering. What a beautiful way to be resourceful. As soon as the spring showers come, and the warmer weather emerges, I feel like a kid on a scavenger hunt, searching for candy.


I began foraging for mushrooms about four years ago, and I still have a record of all the mushrooms I found that year. I created a mushroom log that included location, time of year, and size of each mushroom that I found. I was OBSESSED!


My eagerness and enthusiasm is and always will be coupled with an abundance of caution. I took to heart the stories of other foragers getting sick from eating mushrooms and most especially, the story of a master forager who died after consuming a mushroom.


YIKES! I am far from a master forager, so I have to be completely and absolutely positive about a mushroom, or I won’t touch it. I urge and beg you to take the same caution.


Safety First


The FIRST RULE of foraging for wild mushrooms:


NEVER, EVER eat mushrooms that you are not 100% sure of your identification.


You can examine, do a spore print, research, but if you are not positive, do not bring it to the table. This is not a trial and error situation. It can be a deadly risk to take. I’m all for leaps of faith when it comes to trying a new hobby or trying a new path in life, but when it comes to wild mushrooms, absolute certainty is the only way to go. If you aren’t 100% certain of your identification, it’s not worth eating. It’s that simple.


The SECOND RULE:


If you have identified a mushroom that you are certain is edible, but it looks old or has a lot of bugs in it, do not eat it. This is almost a sure sign that you may have gastrointestinal distress.


Also, please note there are many people whose digestive systems do not welcome wild mushrooms. You may have found a mushroom that truly is edible. Your tongue may love the taste and flavor, but your stomach and system rejects it.


The FINAL RULE: never, ever eat a mushroom raw. Wild mushrooms need to be cooked.


Are we clear on the rules? Excellent. Now to the fun stuff :)



Wild Mushroom Prep


BUGS!


Let’s start with some basic cleaning techniques for mushrooms.


First, we’re not the only critters who enjoy wild mushrooms. It is very common to find a wild mushroom with insects, both large and small, on them. Some people remove only the bigger bugs, like slugs, beetles and spiders. They don’t mind the tiny little bugs because they’re going to cook the mushrooms anyway. Other folks remove all the bugs, regardless of size. I’d say I land somewhere in between. I don’t like my foraged mushroom to have hundreds of little bugs everywhere, but a few is no big deal.


I always start by cutting the stem to make sure no bugs are burrowed inside. Then, I cut the cap so see if there is any evidence of tunnels or small pin holes that insects have created. If the insects are really bad, I opt for soaking in salt water to see if I can get rid of them.



CLEANING


For each wild mushroom below, I offer cleaning suggestions, but let’s touch on the basic cleaning options for your wild mushrooms.


Most mushrooms will have dirt, leaves, or some form of grit that needs to be washed or cut off. It is important to consider the size, shape and texture of the mushroom because it will change the cleaning technique.


If you have a small soft brush, this could help clean the gilled mushrooms. Other cleaning techniques include damp cloths, spraying water and brushing the gills or using your fingernail to scrape the dirt off.


Some mushrooms, like the bolete variety, get leaves stuck in their crevices. In this case, you can cut the area to remove the leaves as much as possible or you can remove the area where the mushroom has formed around the leaf if that is easier. Boletes do tend to have small insects that burrow into the pores, so I would store it separately until you get home if you have more than one mushroom you’ve harvested.


Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your mushroom, you’ll want to lay them on a towel to dry out before cooking. Try to avoid over-soaking. Mushrooms are packed with water already and absorb water easily, so letting them dry before sauteeing is key.


Now, let’s take a look at 5 edible wild mushrooms!


5 Wild Edible Mushrooms



1. Chicken of the Woods, Sulfur Shelf, Laetiporus sulpureus


This mushroom is called Chicken of The Woods because of its chicken-like texture. It’s thick, meaty with a stringy, flavorful texture. It’s porous so it absorbs any marinade you want to add! This is a delicious mushroom, and when you find one it’s usually enough for many meals!


Polypore Mushroom

Chicken of the Woods is considered a polypore mushroom, known for their tough or woody exterior with pores instead of gills underneath. They grow on wood, and are known to be recyclers of woody plants. There are brown rotters, which feed on cellulose, and white rotters. In this case, Chicken of The Woods is a white rotter and feeds on lignin. This lingin-eating characteristic is known to have evolved approximately 300 million years ago at the end of the Carboniferous Period. Members of the polypore group can be used for food, medicine, fiber, papermaking and dying. We use this one for food!


Description: The fruitbody is a large fan-shaped, petal-like surface that is velvety, dry, wrinkled, and roughened. It’s usually bright orange fading to yellow-orange at the base and then creamy white at the margins. It’s tough, fleshy, and fibrous with wavy edges. Stalk is thick, whitish and tough.


Spore Print: White


Occurrence: These are found in overlapping clusters of fan-shaped petals, sometimes solitary, on hardwoods, especially oak. You’ll most likely see them arrive in July, or summer. Once you find a spot, mark it because most likely you’ll find another year after year.




RECIPES


Rinsing

This mushroom has many layers, with crevices that need thorough rinsing. When you harvest this large orange friend, it’s pretty common that leaves and dirt particles stick to it. I usually break off the different fan-shaped pieces from the stalk and begin to rinse each piece. Once all the pieces are separated, and rinsed, place on a towel and pat to dry. These mushrooms are very porous, so try to avoid submerging in water or over rinsing.


Cutting


Now you can begin to cut the mushroom into half inch to one inch pieces. You’ll notice while cutting that the outer edge of the mushroom is much softer, and usually more tender when cooked, whereas the areas closest to the stalk are tougher and a bit more chewy when cooked.


SAUTEED


Personally, I love these mushrooms best sauteed. They have such a juicy, flavorful texture with their absorbent quality.

  1. Simple sauté

    1. Add butter or olive oil, and sauté for about five minutes

    2. Add onion or garlic, and then salt, and a pinch or pepper, or red pepper flakes.

    3. Top off with parsley

  2. Liquid sauté

    1. Add butter or olive oil and saute for about five minutes

    2. Add onion, garlic

    3. Then add either liquid aminos, or a dry white wine

    4. Top it off with a bit of lemon juice and thyme


FRIED


Another way to prepare these chicken of the woods is with good ol' southern fried chicken style, with butter and a flour batter. (Recipe is inspired by Forager Chef)


First cut the mushrooms lengthwise so you have wide pieces that are about ¼” to ½” thick.


Ingredients:

  • Butter

  • Flour

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Paprika

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Eggs


Direction:

Begin by preparing your flour mix with about a cup of flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and a tiny pinch of cayenne. Then beat your eggs together in another bowl, and take your mushroom slices and coat with flour first, then egg, then flour again. Place in a cast iron skillet with butter or oil until each side is golden brown.



2. Indigo Milky, Lactarius indigo


These mushrooms are known for their bright blue appearance. It is not a common color in the forest, so when you see these vibrant blue emerging fruitbodies, it’s hard to miss them. Their name is perfectly descriptive for their character. They have that potent indigo color and then near their gills, they release a dark blue milky liquid, which makes them milk caps!


Milk Mushroom

As you may guess, these mushrooms are known for their clear or colored, milky juice called latex. This juice will exude when it’s been disturbed or injured. So when you slice into it, or remove the stalk, you’ll see its milky juice. Most of the caps of milk mushrooms are flat or upturned with a slightly sticky texture. They are also usually zoned with concentric circles of color.


Description: These mushrooms have a funnel-shaped, convex depressed, sticky, smooth blue cap, with darker blue zones, or concentric circles. Sometimes you can even see a tint of silvery-green color as they age. Gills are a darker blue, attached or subdecurrent to the stalk. The stalk is thick, sticky with a white flesh that stains blue on exposure. The latex is dark blue, slowly becoming dark green, changing the gills to greenish-blue.


Spore Print:Creamy White


Occurrence: Solitary, scattered or in small groups under conifers or hardwoods. I usually find them at the edges of forest trails in summer-fall.



Recipes


Rinsing


These mushrooms are fairly easy to clean, especially if you get them before the bugs do. I usually just spray water from my faucet and let them air dry for about 20 min.


SAUTEED


These mushrooms are great with a low-medium heat sauté with olive oil. Add a generous amount of oil to the ban,with a cap full of apple cider vinegar. Sauté for a few minutes and then add garlic and a small amount of crushed red pepper.



FRIED


I really enjoy these mushrooms fried on a bbq wrap. Mmmm, so good! (Recipe is inspired by Tyrant Farms)


Ingredients:

  • Oil

  • Flour

  • Baking powder

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Garlic Powder

  • Cumin

  • Rosemary

  • Chili powder

  • Eggs


Directions:

Prepare the flour mix, with a cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, salt, pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp of cumin, and ¼ tsp of rosemary, chili powder. Then separate into two bowls. This recipe is messy and playful. Now whisk together 2-3 eggs, with a quick pour of milk if you have it. No biggie if not.


Now dip the mushrooms in flour mix first, then egg, then flour mix. Place on a warm cast iron skillet of olive oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides.


Then serve with a bbq, lettuce, cheese wrap and a glass of kombucha! Delicious!



3. Oysters, Pleurotus ostreatus


Oysters are like eating something from the ocean: fishy. You’ll find these growing in clusters right out of dead trees. Their texture is delicate, soft, and gilled. When you lightly saute them in butter, with a pinch of salt and pair them with eggs, they are yum!



Description: Oysters are clustered together in fan-shaped layers of semi-circular sections. They are smooth, creamy white and usually have an incurved, wavy margin. The gills are decurrent, close or crowded, and the stalk is short, white with tiny hairs at the base. The flesh is delicate, creamy white with easily tearable gills.


Spore Print: White to pale lilac


Occurrence: Most likely you’ll see overlapping clusters connected to one stalk base, emerging from a dead piece of hardwood. They can be on stumps, trunks, logs, or just dead trees.


Recipes

Rinsing: These mushrooms will have tiny little bugs that embed in the gills, so you’ll want to make sure to rinse really well, and sometimes even as you cut you’ll notice more coming out. Spray thoroughly in a strainer and then let air dry for about 20 min, or gently press with a towel.


SAUTEED:


Personally, oysters are best with very little added to them since they have a lot of flavor on their own and just need some enhancers. Start with a pan and add some butter and turn to medium heat. Cut the oysters in strips, or smaller bite sized shapes. Place in the pan with green onion, garlic and a small bit of spinach, and then sprinkle salt. From here, I normally add them to toast with an egg and it’s so good, but you can keep it to the side with eggs, just put it on toast, or just eat it like that!


PIZZA:


Once I have lightly sauteed them, I have also placed them on a pesto pizza, or hummus pizza. I prefer a pesto base over a tomato based pizza because for me the tomato flavor overrides the flavor of the oysters. Simply get a preferred crust of your choice, smother it in pesto, or hummus, add the oyster mushroom, with a little more parmesan. Depending on the crust you use will impact the temperature and bake time. I bake a small gluten free whole wheat crust at 400F for about 20-25min.



4. Lion’s Mane, Bearded Tooth, Satyr’s Beard, Hericium erinaceus


Tooth Fungi

The fertile surface of these mushrooms have “teeth” or soft icicles that hang downward. Typically the entire fruit body is covered in these teeth with no stalk.


Description: This is a protruding white to yellowish cushion-shaped ball with long spines, resembling a beard. Flesh is thick, soft, and white. These are easily identifiable with their icicle teeth coming out of trees or logs. These mushrooms can require you to look up, rather than down. They like to grow out of decaying trees higher up.


Spore Print: White


Occurrence: You’ll usually find these mushrooms alone, or with one other on decaying hardwood trees, or larger fallen trees. Just like most mushrooms, note their location if you find one because you’ll likely find another. I normally find these mushrooms in late September-November.


Recipes


SAUTEED (recipe inspired by A Couple Cooks)


Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces lion’s mane mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil for vegan)

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

  • 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste


Directions:

  1. Cut off the bottoms of the mushrooms, then slice them.

  2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium high heat until browned, about 2 minutes.

  3. Flip and allow the mushrooms to brown another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, soy sauce and salt. Taste and add more salt as needed. Serve as a side dish or even better, on toasted bread with spicy mayo.


LION”S MANE CRAB CAKES (recipe from Michigan Mushroom Company)


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 pints) Lion’s Mane Mushroom

  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt (organic mayonnaise can be used as a substitute)

  • 1 tsp soy sauce

  • 1 cup organic bread crumbs

  • 1/4 cup diced onion

  • 1 egg (you can easily make this recipe vegan by replacing this with a “flaxseed” egg)

  • splash of white or red wine vinegar

  • 2-3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

  • lemon juice from 1/4 lemon

  • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil (or alternative) for cooking the cakes

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For remoulade:

  • 1/4 cup non or low-fat organic Greek yogurt

  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli Mustard)

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

  • juice of 1/4 lemon

Directions:

  1. Cut Lion’s Mane mushroom into large pieces. Toss them in olive oil and roast in the oven, with garlic at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins. Turn halfway through. The mushroom will shrink substantially as the water cooks out.

  2. Next, put the mushroom and garlic mixture in a food processor and pulse 4-5 times until the mix is broken down into smaller chunks.

  3. In a separate bowl mix together the egg, soy sauce, Greek yogurt, lemon, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Use a whisk to evenly mix the wet ingredients. Add breadcrumbs, onions (sauteed or raw) with the pulsed mushroom mixture.

  4. Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon (depending on the desired size of the crab cakes) to measure equal portions of crab cakes. With your hands, form into cakes.

  5. Heat about a ½” of coconut oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and fry until lightly browned on both sides.

  6. Finish with a touch of sea salt

  7. For remoulade: Using a whisk, mix yogurt, mustard, parika, lemon juice and salt and pepper.


5. Black Trumpet, Craterellus fallax


Black Trumpet mushrooms are usually in clusters, but they are hard to find because of their color. They do appear just as they are named, like a black trumpet. Normally, I find these mushrooms in the summer on the ground closeby to some form of water. Even though these guys are small, they are flavorful and don’t require a lot to cook because of their paper thin texture. They are best as a sauce, in soups, or a gravy.


Chanterelles

These mushrooms are considered to be in the chanterelle family. The common feature, as some of you know, of chanterelles are that they are typically vase-shaped with the false gill-like ridges along the vase with a hole at the center. These mushrooms are normally soft with a wavy, wrinkled bouquet at the cap.


Description: Black trumpets are funnel-shaped with an in-rolled, wavy edge at the cap. Their color is normally a greyish, dark brown, blackish color with a blackish, decurrent veinlike ridges. The stalk is tubular, hollow almost all the way to the base with a thin, brittle flesh.


Spore print: Pale pinkish-orange


Occurrence: Usually in groups, scattered or in clusters near moss banks and water. Typically under mixed woods or hardwoods.


Recipes


Rinsing


These mushrooms can be a bit tricky to wash because of their flimsiness and their vase-like shape. Ideally, you wouldn’t rinse any of the chanterelles under running water, rather pulling away the debris, using a brush and dabbing with water. Typically, I cut them at the base so I don’t carry the dirt from the base. And then for the Black trumpets, you’ll just want to make sure the center hole is clean, which can be done easily by cutting it down the middle.


BLACK TRUMPET GRAVY Recipe from Forager Chef)


Ingredients:

  • 2 grams dried black trumpet mushrooms

  • 8 cups homemade, unsalted chicken stock

  • 1 tablespoon shallot, diced ¼ inch

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, plus one tablespoon for finishing the sauce

  • ½ cup dry sherry

  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Reduce the chicken stock on medium in a wide pan saute or brazier pan until you have about 2 cups left.

  2. Heat a small saucepan with the teaspoon of butter and add the shallots. Brown the shallots lightly, then deglaze with the sherry and add the reserved stock, mushrooms and their liquid. Continue simmering the sauce while you cook the quail, it needs to be reduced to about ¼- ½ cup.

  3. To finish the sauce, heat the sauce, then whisk in the butter to thicken it. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon easily, like gravy. If it doesn’t, reduce it a while longer. Double check the seasoning for salt and adjust as needed.


BLACK TRUMPET LINGUINE (Recipe from Forest Mushrooms)


Ingredients:

  • Salt

  • ½ lb. black trumpets

  • 6 tbs. Butter

  • 12 oz. linguine

  • Nutmeg

  • White pepper

  • ½ c Parmesan Cheese

  • 3-4 tbsp fresh chives


Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare your balck trumpet mushrooms ensuring they are fully rinsed, and then squeeze dry, chop and set aside.

  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring until well wilted and tended, about 8-10 min.

  3. When the mushrooms are about done, cook pasta until texture is to your liking. Remove about ¼ cup of cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Add remaining butter, mushrooms, nutmeg and white pepper.

  4. Toss to mix, adding reserved water as needed. Add cheese and toss until pasta is coated and ingredients are integrated. Sprinkle chives for garnish.


Conclusion


There you have it - 5 delicious forest delicacies. My mouth is watering just imagining all these wild mushroom dishes.


I’d love to hear more about your foraging adventures or wild mushroom dishes. Tag us on Instagram (@wayofbelonging) with your favorite recipe or an exciting mushroom that you find!





References



"A Couple Cooks." 12 October 2021. https://www.acouplecooks.com/recipes/ “Cooking Wild Mushrooms.” Mushroom, 12 October 2021. https://www.mushroomthejournal.com/cooking-wild-mushrooms

"Forest Mushrooms, Inc." 12 October

2021. https://www.forestmushrooms.com/ "Michigan Mushroom Company." 12 October 2021. https://michiganmushroomco.com/

"Mushrooms." Forager Chef. 12 October 2021. https://foragerchef.com/mushrooms-2/

"Tyrant Farms." 12 October 2021. https://www.tyrantfarms.com/


79 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page