Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
The first time one comes upon Chicken of the Woods in the wild, it can seem almost too good to be true. The bold saffron and sulphur yellow mushrooms can entirely envelope a stump or log, growing in masses of succulent, plush shelves. Specimens have been found weighing up to 100lbs. The species smells sweet when fresh, and tastes wonderful -indeed very much like chicken. The texture holds up well and, again, is very reminiscent of chicken breast. Unlike many other mushroom species, sliced Laetiporus freezes well, which is very convenient when one finds 50lbs at once!
Though historically resistant to indoor commercial cultivation, there have been recent promising developments in the artificial cultivation of laetiporus on sterilized, supplemented bags of hardwood sawdust. A technique of encouraging the species to fruit through the filter patch of a mycobag, as opposed to cutting the bags open as one would with most other species, seems most promising.
Alternately, one can inoculate stumps or hardwood logs with colonized plug spawn with generally good results. Laetiporus is also one of the few species that can be grown on conifers (pine), though hardwood is preferred.
Interestingly, the mycelium of this species has been shown to be strongly antagonistic to Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis, and destroy E. coli on contact. It also shows strong activity against Serratia marcescens, which is a major source of urinary tract infections.
For Chicken of the Woods spawn, go here.
For recipes, go here.