Cooking and storing
The Hen of the Woods, AKA
Anything you can do with
button mushrooms you can try with Maitake!
Since a collection of Hen of the
Woods Mushrooms as big as forty or fifty pounds are common at one tree in my neck of the
woods, I have tried a variety of ways to store this bounty of fall, to get me through our
You can dry it, if you can put up with the awful smell!
You can can it, many people do, but I have an easier method.
I get together with a few appreciative friends and we have a ritual
mushroom cleaning party. Armed with a knife, a towel, a bowl and lots of freezer bags, we
sit, chat, clean and bag. Then we pop the bags directly into the freezer. That's it. no
pre-cooking or par-boiling. If your freezer stays good and cold the mushrooms can last for
two years. We try to use reasonable serving size bags because when you use them it's
easier to use a whole (small) bag, then to try to break the frozen clump. We also chop the
mushrooms into different size pieces in different bags to use different ways. I have a
friend from Laos who has some dramatic recipes using Maitake strips about two inches long
and a quarter inch wide and she cuts the mushrooms to size before freezing them.
course, the cleaner the better when bagging because you'll want to defrost right in the
pan. If the mushrooms you find were growing under a rotten tree, the mushroom can actually
grow around the wood particles and they'll be embedded in the mushroom flesh. Those
mushrooms may not worth cleaning unless its all you have.
Try Maitake in anything you would use white button mushrooms in and try
them alone fried with butter and salt. Cook it until crispy or cook until thy're just
done. It's a very versitile and delicious mushroom. Freshly picked and cooked Hen of the
Woods are delicious, and a large find will help get you though the winter!
- Roy Reehil
Hen of the Woods
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