There is nothing better than heading out to the forest to find wild edible mushrooms, especially in Pennsylvania where there is a wide variety of gourmet forms. The Pennsylvania woods are a haven for those who have a desire to hunt for the elusive edible mushrooms that can only be found in the wild. As a beginner, mushroom hunting can be overwhelming as there are many different types of wild mushrooms and some look very similar to each other. Here’s a guide to help you identify and learn more about the most common wild edible mushrooms in Pennsylvania.
Chanterelle mushrooms are a well-known and highly prized wild edible mushroom that grows in Pennsylvania. They are typically found near oak, poplar, and birch trees in late June to early August. Chanterelles have a delicate, slightly nutty, and earthy flavor that pairs well with poultry, seafood, and cream-based sauces. They have a distinctive trumpet shape with a golden-yellow color and a slightly ridged cap.
Morels are highly sought after by mushroom hunters due to their meaty, nutty flavor, and distinct honeycomb texture. They are found in late April to early June in Pennsylvania, usually under deciduous trees. They are cone-shaped with deep, irregular furrows, and range in color from pale grey to almost black.
The Lobster Mushroom, an oddity, is not a mushroom but a parasitic fungus that grows on other mushrooms such as the Lactifluus piperatus or Russula brevipes. These mushrooms have a firm texture with a red-orange color that is similar to that of lobster meat. The flavor is mildly sweet and slightly nutty. They grow from June to September and can be found near oak, beech, and pine trees.
Cauliflower mushrooms, also known as Sparassis crispa, are found in late August to early October in Pennsylvania. The mushroom is large, white, and resembles a head of cauliflower. They can grow up to a foot wide and have a distinct aroma with a delicate, sweet flavor that pairs well with poultry and fish.
Hen of the Woods
Hen of the Woods, also known as Maitake mushrooms, is highly valued for its earthy flavor which is similar to roasted chicken. They grow on the base of hardwood trees such as oak and maples. They have a distinct layered structure that becomes visible when they grow to maturity. They grow from August to October in Pennsylvania.
In conclusion, mushroom hunting can be a fun and rewarding activity, but it is important to only eat mushrooms that have been positively identified as safe to consume. Always consult an expert before consuming mushrooms, and never eat mushrooms that show any signs of decay or slime. With these tips in mind, a day spent foraging for mushrooms in the Pennsylvania woods can be a memorable experience. Happy hunting!