Chicken of the Woods – Edibility, Identification, Distribution

Laetiporus sulphureus

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  • Edibility – 3 – young, tender specimens only – cube and simmer in salted water for 5 mins before use. Some people have an adverse reaction, so try a small amount for the first time. Excellent in pies, stews, currys etc – a genuine textural substitute for chicken!
  • Identification – 4 – Bright orange, irregular, velvety (never hairy), layered brackets
  • Distribution – 2 – enigmatic and occasional – I seldom actively search for them, but tend to look up more than usual in oak woodlands.
  • Season – May – October – Often coming in two ‘waves’ – in early summer then autumn
  • Habitat – Mostly oak trees, standing or fallen. Occasionally other species – do not eat if growing on yew!
  • Harvesting – Take only young, tender, moist specimens, or sections of the whole thing. It is possible to cut out sections at intervals, keeping fresh food growing on the tree. You may need a ladder or good climbing skills. I know a chef in the highlands who shot one out of a tree!

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