Unexpected edible mushrooms from the wood chip pile

About a year ago the arborist dropped off a load of wood chips (mostly pine) at my place. The pile sat for about 9 months. This fall I spread the chips on a hillside behind my house. When I was shoveling the chips they were fairly dry. White fungal mycelium was evident throughout most of the pile and there were dense clouds of white dust emanating from each shovelful. Apparently the chips were being colonized by the fungus Auricularia auricula, commonly known as “wood ear” or “jelly ear” mushroom.

Now that the rain has returned to California the mushrooms are fruiting all over the shaded hillside. So far my wife and I have harvested several pounds for cooking and more keep popping up every day. They have a fantastic shroomy aroma when boiling in the soup pot and they firm up a bit when cooked, which is good because they are quite brittle uncooked.

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that is pretty cool…you can’t beat free food. much to my wife’s dismay, I’m not a mushroom fan. never really appealed to me…

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Nice! I am fairly new to eating/identifying wild mushrooms so I have tried only the more obvious varieties. Unfortunately I have never tried wood ear. Every time I found them they were dried up. I have a Stropharia bed in my garden and have never heard of someone having a wood ear bed, but why not? My family tradition is gathering black morels in the spring and boletus in the fall. One of the best mushrooms I have tried and in my opinion highly underrated is the giant puffball. Nice pictures btw

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Nice, I am pretty sure you now have enough to store! Do you freeze them? I usually cut extra mushrooms and put on the skillet under cover on low heat until they give water out and start boiling, then cool and freeze in one meal portions. In winter you can use them for soups or fries.

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I am also a newbie to wild mushroom collecting. This is the first type that I have had the courage to eat. Naturally I had considerable trepidation and did a fair bit of research before taking the first bite.

Those Stropharia beds look very interesting! I’ll have to consider adding that to my list of projects.

We do have more production than we can eat fresh.
So far I have just been using them fresh with various soups, stir fry and egg dishes.

The literature indicates that these mushrooms are commonly dried for later use in Chinese dishes.
I really like your idea of precooking and freezing though.

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Given most of us have trees, stropharia in a chip-mulch bed around trees, berries, etc is a natural–they are aggressive decomposers and easily grown.

If you can get chips…

This is an old post but I made this account just to chime in here. The mushroom pictured is definitely not auricularia. It is most probably a species in the genus peziza. Could be edible, or not. Please, never eat a wild mushroom unless you can positively identify it (or at least narrow it down to a few options). Hunting/eating wild mushrooms can be very rewarding, but to the untrained eye(and the trained eye), many distinct species may resemble each other. Some edible mushrooms have deadly poisonous lookalikes. Have fun and be safe!

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