This beloved and medicinal delicious mushroom is found generally at the base of very old red/black oak, some times on white oak and very rarely on ash. Ironically my first find this year was on ash but it was 2 weeks too old. Latt invited me to his woods where he had already harvested a couple and being such a great guy went out in the heat to water one for me during the prolonged dry spell. So I had fresh maitake, the oriental name, last night thanks to my friend Latt.
They can range in color from white, gray, tan or brown. The more sunlit the darker they are. You want them nice and moist if they feel dry or leathery they aren't good in my opinion but I know some old timers that swear by soaking them if caught in time. I like my wrapped in foil with seasonings and butter and then baked or grilled. My mom prefers to fry in butter with seasonings. You can find directions on preparing & storing them at this link
You'd probably like the King also \"Porcini\" if you look at the bottom of the page at that link you'll see a link to them. they are found in the hardwoods and especially Oak. Same for Chicken in the woods. Tastes like a fried chicken mushroom. They are found on live oak wounds and dead oak material primarily but other hardwoods to. Your passing all these probably every time you go through the woods.
Yep hens are probably my favorite. Hearty and they hold up well when you cook them. Great on pizza, in spag sauce, on the grill, great sauteed and served in a mushroom omelet etc. One good size mushroom will last a long time and give you plenty of mushroom to cook in different recipes.
Here is a pic of the one i picked the other day. Hobbler. If they are fresh they look like this. They can be white, brown, dark brown and sometimes almost black. All the same thing tho. they will smell fresh and mushroomy. If they are smelly like rotten fish or slimy then they are too far gone so don't eat them. But if they are fresh they will look like this and the pic GMCpaul posted.
Hobbler, here is a pic of a tree full of \"Chicken of the woods\". GMCPaul had posted a pick too. I used to eat Chicken of the woods and honestly I just got tired of them. Shroomdawg and I were hunting together a couple of weeks ago and we saw these Chickens growing on this fallen tree. We didn't pick a one of them. I think he is tired of them too. Anyway give them a try tho. Many people love them. But to me they are not even close to a Hen of the woods. Hen's are so much better in my opinion.
This is the pic of the Chickens below: