Northland Adventures: Hunting Wild Mushrooms - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Northland Adventures: Hunting Wild Mushrooms

Chicken of the Woods mushroom Chicken of the Woods mushroom

COON VALLEY, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- According to the Wisconsin DNR, there are more than a dozen types of wild mushrooms that are edible in the Badger State.     

Wisconsin's landscape is not only ideal for agriculture and raising cattle, it is also the perfect habitat for wild mushrooms.

"Within about five minutes of the house, I can find three or four different types of mushrooms that I can use in whatever cooking I want to," said Jon Lee from Coon Valley.

Lee has hunted for mushrooms for years and showed News 19's Lindsey Hayes for a Northland Adventures report how to identify three different types of edible fall fungi.

The first type is the Meadow Mushroom.

It often lives among the cattle and cowpies.

"In this field there might be 30 or more pounds of these mushrooms," said Lee.

Lee said these mushrooms taste like your typical button mushroom in the grocery store, however have twice the flavor.

Lee said this is how to identify a meadow mushroom: "It is pink gilled very important to be pink. It cannot be white because it might be poisonous. It is convex shaped like an umbrella top and it grows in fields or meadows. Some of these mushrooms can be poisonous in the woods, so I would only collect these mushrooms if they were in a pasture or a field."

While meadow mushrooms are only safe in the pasture, some edible mushrooms prefer the woods.

"I have never found a Box elder mushroom on anything other than a Box elder tree.  They are pretty easy to identify. Box elder mushrooms are also white in color and they may grow 20, 30 or 40 feet up in the tree," said Lee.

"Box elder mushrooms like areas of trauma in a tree, so look for missing branches and white gills.

They are umbrella shaped and always have a curved trunk.

The third edible mushroom hides deep in the forest; its name is the Chicken of the Woods.

"They are great Summer to Fall mushrooms. This is much different in taste compared to the other two and this one really does taste like chicken. It is shelved," said Lee.

Jon said any of these mushrooms taste great in soup or fried in butter.

First, we cleaned, cut and fried the Chicken of the Woods in sweet cream butter and added salt and pepper.

Next, we cooked the Box elder mushroom in butter, onion juice and added salt and pepper.

Lastly, we enhanced the Meadow mushrooms with 1/2 cup of minced onions, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cup of garlic cloves and chopped parsley and lemon juice.

News 19's Lindsey Hayes said, "I think the Chicken of the Woods is my favorite. It really does taste like chicken and its texture is like chicken too."

Lee recommends double and triple checking mushrooms before you cook and eat them.     

He said "when in doubt throw them out."  

Lee said if it is your first time trying wild mushrooms, only have a few to make sure you are not allergic or they don't make you sick.

Jon says "Bring a knife with because you don't want a lot of dirt on the mushroom, so I will cut the mushroom at the stem and at the ground level and there will not be any extra dirt that I will have to try and clean off.

The mushroom crop depends on the weather.

"They don't come out every year, but with the right conditions you will find hundreds of them.

A good rain event or a couple of days of rain will make these mushrooms pop up abundantly typically these are in the summer to fall you can find them," said Lee.


Chicken of the Woods


1 lb. Chicken of the Woods mushroom, cleaned and sliced into 1/4″ thick pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, 1/4″ dice
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: freshly chopped herbs (such as thyme or oregano)

Directions: In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil starts to become fragrant (before smoke point) add Chicken of the Woods, stirring to coat the mushroom. Cook for 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, and cook for another 5-7 minutes until onion starts to brown. Add a ¼ cup wine and bring the mixture up to a simmer.  Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes, and then add the remaining ¼ cup of wine, stir, and simmer again.  If the mushroom is still a little too tough after all of this liquid is absorbed, add more liquid and simmer longer. Otherwise, remove from heat and serve atop grilled or toasted crusty bread brushed with olive oil or butter, sprinkled with freshly chopped herbs.


Meadow Mushrooms:



1 lb. Chicken of the Woods mushroom, cleaned and sliced into 1/4″ thick pieces

1/2 cup minced onion

3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Lemon juice to taste


Box elder Mushrooms:

Fry in butter. Add onion juice and salt and pepper.



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