Chicken of the woods mushroom is a true gourmet mushroom that’s a favorite to eat for many mushroom lovers … and we are working on its cultivation
I get this question a lot: What is your favorite mushroom? My answer is a really young, tender, and fresh chicken of the woods mushrooms. It is an incredible mushroom to eat because it is so juicy and succulent.
This mushroom is also known as the sulphur shelf mushroom, referring to its bright orange and yellow or white pores. It’s a very bright, vibrant mushroom you can find while foraging in the forest. It’s scientific name is Laetiporus sulphureus or Laetiporus cincinnatus. The mushroom is called the chicken of the woods because its texture is said to resemble the texture of cooked chicken. We agree wholeheartedly.
Chicken of the woods are most commonly foraged in the wild. They are frequently found growing from wounds of oak trees or at the base of the tree. The mushroom can also be found on some types of conifers, sweet chestnut trees or willow trees. In the Northeast, these mushrooms appear from early spring to late autumn. If the weather conditions are appropriate, the mushrooms can come back year after year. If you find an abundance while foraging, or if you end up growing your own like we discuss below, then you can freeze the bounty that you do not consume while fresh.
Growing chicken of the woods mushrooms at home
This is an interesting mushroom because it is so delicious yet the ability to cultivate it is difficult. Most mushroom farmers do not know how to grow it and there are not any consistent production methods for growing this mushroom. So we are left with this interesting predicament. We are exploring how to cultivate this mushroom and there are a lot of spawn providers that are trying to reliably grow this mushroom.
I have seen a few farms successfully fruit chicken of the woods through inoculating logs. This has been done with the similar strategy used for growing shiitake mushrooms on logs, which involves drilling holes into the logs, filling the holes with plug spawn, sealing the holes, and letting the logs sit. Since we love chicken of the woods and have seen some farms successfully fruit them, we are offering this mushroom in plug spawn through our website. Growers can experiment with this mushroom on their own now.
What I have learned involving the process of growing chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods takes a bit longer to fruit than shiitakes. For instance, it may take two years for the fruiting to begin. The success rate in fruiting the chickens will also be lower than that with shiitakes. It is a little bit more experimental.
When foraging I typically find this mushroom on oak or maple trees. Those would be ideal types of wood to use if you are trying to cultivate these mushrooms at home. Here in the Northeast you can find COTW growing from May through October. Keep your eyes peeled for the bright orange shelf-life creature growing off the edge of downed trees. If you do want to try growing your own because they are so delicious and beautiful, I’d recommend inoculating a downed oak tree with our plug spawn that we have available through our website. This would be an ideal option for inoculation, and since the mushroom can lead to abundant yields, you may be able to develop a consistent source for fresh mushrooms for years to come.
We hope you can develop a long-lasting relationship with this amazing mushroom. If you want to try growing them in your backyard, garden, or commercially, then check out our plug spawn now.