We found our first lion’s mane mushroom and (after looking it up and confirming it with a local mushroom expert!) we went back and got it and cooked it up! Lion’s mane is said to stimulate brain cells, support mental health, has anti-inflammatory properties, and promotes gut health. Lion’s mane typically grows on dead wood- usually beech, oak, maple, walnut and sycamore. It’s said to be one of the most delicious mushrooms out there, having a similar consistency and taste to crab. Some grocery stores carry fresh lion’s mane and you can also order it online. It’s also an ingredient in many mind and memory-boosting supplements and teas. Check out our first lion’s mane foraging adventure in the video:
Last year, I started foraging for mushrooms for classification purposes / to try to learn to identify them. I hoped to one day learn enough and to be able to connect with mushroom experts who could help verify my finds so that I could eventually learn the mushrooms in our area and find out which ones were edible.
I have lots of books on them but there are typically so many deadly look-alike mushrooms that it could be very easy to misidentify a mushroom as edible when it could actually really hurt or kill you. I began by picking mushrooms and photographing them from various angles. (You always want to photograph the bottom of a mushroom because various gill patterns can clue you into what type of mushroom it is.) I tested spore colors and patterns by putting them caps gill-side down on black paper and putting a glass cloche over top and then waiting a bit for the spores to drop so I could see what colors the spores were. I labeled the mushrooms as what I thought they were – after taking all of that into account- and photographed them for future reference. MOST of what I found is poisonous btw!!
There are so many beautiful types of mushrooms and, whether eating them or not, I just love looking at them and learning about them.
A couple of weeks ago, when I was in the woods with Gisele and Louie, hunting for any remaining late-season mushrooms, Gisele came across what looked like lion’s mane growing on a fallen over dead tree. I photographed it and reached out to my friend in the mycology group and he confirmed it was lion’s mane. He said it was one of the MOST delicious mushrooms he’d ever had (shared by a friend) and that they are super rare. He’d made crabcakes with his lion’s mane gift and said they were amazing. I was so excited!!! The weeks got away from me and I wasn’t able to go back until this weekend, but sure enough, it was still there!!
The lion’s mane we’d found was a bit dried-out but I thought I could at least try perk it back up by soaking it in water -which is what you do with dehydrated mushrooms before cooking. I gently dried it off, sliced it into thin pieces so we could each have a bite, and fried it in butter, sprinkling it with Old Bay. I topped it off with onion grass Louie found in the woods.
To get the downloadable recipe on how to make the dish go here!
I can’t even describe how good these little bites we had were. Maybe it was because we only got a bite or so each, and quite possibly because it was friend in butter, these babies were HEAVEN!!!!!! All I can say is, if you can get your hands on some fresh lion’s mane, MAKE THIS ASAP!!