2021 has been a fruitful year for mushroom hunting! I typically prefer to grow my own but this year I have been on the hunt for the elusive Grifola frondosa, aka “Maitake” , aka “Hen of the Woods” here in MN…
Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, it contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.
Wild maitake grow in the forest, particularly older forests. More often than not, they are found at the base of oak trees, especially dead or dying oaks or stumps. Occasionally, they’ll fruit from elms or maples. Because of their coloring, they tend to blend in very well with the leaf litter around them, so they can be challenging to spot from a distance.
I took a limited bit of knowledge and it applied it to a targeted forage and I had great success.
I managed to fill up a Jeep full over a weekend, once you understand where to look, its amazing how plentiful it is here in MN.
The one thing I did not want to do is waste all these great findings, so after giving away pounds to friends, I decided to try maitake jerky.. I started with this recipe: The 3 Foragers: Foraging for Wild, Natural, Organic Food: Hen of the Woods Recipe – Maitake Mushroom Jerky
I ended up buying the largest dehydrator I could find in town… 16 trays, seems to be enough for 1 extremely large hen.
The Raw mushrooms were about 1 full grocery bag full.
The Jerky ended up tasting great! Next batch I would prefer to have a little more spice, but not bad.
Now I am going to clone the monsters I found and start growing an Indoor MN strain… looking forward to that, I prefer the maitake beetle and spider free in my basement 😉