This conspicuous bracket mushroom is native to North America and Europe and grows as a parasite mostly on hardwood trees, particularly on oak,. It appears high up in the tree attacking the heartwood, appearing in the spring and remaining until early autumn. The fan-shaped bracket grows six to almost twenty inches across and has a velvety lemon to orange-yellow color, that dulls with age. The tubes and pores are yellow, the spores are white, and the yellow flesh has a pungent odor. Usually the brackets grow in overlapping tiers so produce quite a mass on a tree.
Chicken mushroom is generally considered a delicious treat with a flavor similar to chicken, lobster, or crab. Some people, however, experience discomfort after eating it including swollen lips, cramps, and indigestion. Chicken mushroom can be eaten cooked or frozen, but does not dry well. Only very young, juicy, brackets should be eaten and they should not be eaten raw. To prepare the mushroom for cooking, separate the individual brackets, and clean them by washing, if necessary, which can be done because the flesh is dense. Blanching in salted water for two to three minutes is advised if the flesh is tough. The brackets can be sautéed in butter, or used in cream sauce, curry, risotto, or soup.
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