Finding Edible Mushrooms

There are several jelly mushrooms on dead branches after rain. I’ve looked at them for years never suspecting I was looking at some edible mushrooms.

Around the Ozarks morels rule. Chanterelles may have more recipes in the wild mushroom book. The one most sought after is chicken of the woods. No one mentions jelly mushrooms.

Jelly mushrooms are different. They look like colored pieces of gelatin with a strong skin. I see them in white, yellow and brown.

Brown jelly mushrooms are edible mushrooms
Brown jelly mushrooms are very different from what people picture when they think of mushrooms. Clusters of these appear on dead hardwood branches and trees after rain all summer. Their edges dry quickly as the air dries. They range from a half inch to several inches across.

In researching possible sources of wild food for the Carduans I looked up these mushrooms. The white and yellow ones are not edible. The brown ear variety are edible mushrooms.

A related species that looks like the brown ear ones here is popular in China as an ingredient for hot and sour soup. I was willing to give them a try.

When I’m not looking for these mushrooms, I see them here and there. When I am looking for them, they seem no where around. Where should I look?

Fallen trees and branches are a good place. The mushrooms are picky. They avoid sycamore. They seem to like oak and black walnut, I think.

A few were growing on a branch. I taste tested one. Bland. Chewy. Not bad, but definitely an ingredient, not on its own.

Rain is a common visitor here. Since it falls in small amounts, up to two inches, there are no floods. Instead the days are cool, moist to wet and perfect for many plants.

different edible mushrooms
Another name for a brown jelly mushroom is ear mushroom. Backlighting makes these mushrooms glow inside. They are firm to the touch. Their surface feels like soft cloth. Sliced open the inside is like firm gelatin.

I found a fallen tree, probably black walnut. It was covered with these edible mushrooms. I gathered a big handful to mix with greens and onions to stir fry for dinner.

Morels and chanterelles stir fry and sauté well. Button mushrooms from the market do as well.

I rinsed off the mushrooms, chopped the greens and onions. Once the pan and oil were hot, I tossed in the mushrooms and onions.

Jelly mushrooms are different. They hissed. They popped. They exploded into the air. Every time I stirred the pan, a new round began.

The mushrooms darkened and I tossed in the greens. The onions were done. The greens were done. How do I know if the mushrooms are done? Other than darkening, they didn’t change much.

The dish was edible, even tasty. The jelly mushrooms stayed chewy. Next time I’ll try soup.

More about Ozark mushrooms is found in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”