Also known as jelly tongue, and ox tongue, this bracket fungus is )a parasite of oaks and.chestnut trees and can be found singly or in clusters in deciduous woods, parks, and open spaces in North American as well as Europe, Australia, and North Africa from late summer to autumn. The tongue-shaped bracket is 4 to 10 inches wide, up to eight inches deep, and 2.5 inches thick. The surface is the color of calves liver, slimy, and covered with little papillae. The underside consists of short white tubes that are easily separated become red with age. A stem may or may not be present. The spores are pale ochre and the flesh is thick, spongy, fibrous, and contains a red juice that resembles blood.
The beefsteak mushroom is highly lauded by some for its good texture salty, tart flavor but criticized by others as being sour and acidic. It can be used raw, cooked, or frozen but turns tough when dried. To prepare for cooking, separate individual brackets and wipe of with a damp cloth. To avoid any acid taste, slice and soak in milk two hours or more then broil, grill, or use in soups or stews. It is especially good when cooked like liver with onions and garlic.
The genus name, Fistulina, comes from the latin word, fistula, meaing “small tube. The specific epithet, hepatica, is from the Greek word hepatikos meaning of the liver.
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